Patient Discharge Instructions for Atypical Chest Pain

Posted on 02/16/2018

Atypical chest pain is a short, sharp pain in the muscle and tissue usually felt in the left chest, throat, shoulder, abdomen, back, or arm. It can be due to anxiety or a several different physical causes such as pulled muscle.

Treatment includes self-monitoring and follow-up.

Steps to Take for Home Care

Your treatment and home care plan will depend on what is causing your chest pain. You and your doctor will work together to find the cause. The following guidelines will assist in identifying the cause:

  • Keep a record of the chest pain to report with your provider. Additional things to pay attention to include:
    • What does the pain feel like?
    • Where do you feel the pain?
    • How often do you feel the pain?
    • How long does the pain last?
    • What other symptoms occur with the pain?
    • What seems to make the pain better or worse?
  • Stay calm. Try to reduce stress.
  • Share information with your doctor about your:
    • Diet
    • Other symptoms or medical conditions
    • Medications and supplements
    • Changes in activity level


Make sure you are eating a healthy diet. It should be rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. It may help to keep a food diary to see if your symptoms are related to acid indigestion.

Physical Activity

Be as active as tolerated. Stay away from activities that bring on the pain. Tell your doctor if you experience pain during activity.

You should also:

  • Ask your doctor when you can return to work.
  • Ask your doctor when it is safe for you to drive.


Your doctor may recommend medication to manage your chest pain.

If medications are required you will need to follow these general guidelines:

  • Take your medicines as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
  • Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
  • Do not share them.
  • Ask what results and side effects to expect. If adverse events or unanticipated side effects occur report them to your doctor.
  • Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medicines and herb or dietary supplements.
  • Plan ahead for refills so you do not run out.


Your doctor may want to schedule more tests. You may be referred to a specialist. Be sure to keep all appointments. Have tests and exams done regularly as directed by your doctor.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

It is important to check your progress and call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Chest pain that happens more frequently or becomes more severe
  • You are unable to move around when you have the pain
  • Anxiety or depression

Call for Medical Help Right Away If Any of the Following Occurs

Call for medical help right away if you have symptoms of a heart attack which can include:

  • Chest pain, which may feel like a crushing weight
  • A sense of fullness, squeezing, or pressure in the chest
  • Rapid and/or irregular heartbeat
  • Pain, tingling or numbness in the left shoulder and arm, neck and/or jaw, or the left arm
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness, weakness, or fainting
  • Shortness of breath 

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.