Dealing with Fatigue and Chest Pain? You Might Have Pectus Excavatum

When you feel pain in your chest, your whole body goes on alert. And, of course, your mind starts racing with thoughts of heart attacks and hospitals. Add extreme fatigue to the mix and you know something’s wrong — but what? If you’re thinking pectus excavatum, you might be right.

Getting to the bottom of these alarming symptoms is our job and our passion here at Rockland Thoracic & Vascular Associates

Our team of experts has vast experience diagnosing and treating a wide array of common and uncommon conditions that affect your lungs, veins, and arteries and the support systems around them. 

If you’re experiencing chest pain and fatigue, we encourage you to come see us right away to get an accurate diagnosis and begin a customized treatment plan. 

Should I be worried if I have chest pain and fatigue?

Like a car’s dashboard, your body alerts you to trouble within. When your car’s symptoms are nonspecific, like if it idles fast or feels sluggish, you take it to a mechanic to find out what’s wrong. 

Likewise, chest pain and fatigue are signals that something’s wrong, but it’s not an automatic cause for worry. These two symptoms together can mean you have:

Trying to figure out on your own exactly what’s causing your discomfort is risky. If you have a serious condition and you ignore it or misdiagnose it yourself, you could be headed for a heart attack.

Could my symptoms mean pectus excavatum?

Yes, fatigue and chest pain are two symptoms of pectus excavatum, a condition that causes a deformity in your chest wall. But one thing that makes pectus excavatum stand out from the list of heart disease symptoms is the signature sunken chest.

More common in men than women, pectus excavatum happens when your ribs and breastbone develop abnormally. No one knows why this happens to some and not others, but it does tend to run in families. It could be present at birth or show up years later during adolescence. 

The reason you feel pain and fatigue with pectus excavatum is that your concave chest wall is crowding your heart and lungs, causing these other potential symptoms as well:

If these symptoms are either nonexistent or barely noticeable, your pectus excavatum is primarily a cosmetic issue. But in severe cases, pectus excavatum can significantly hinder your heart and lung function, and then treatment becomes necessary.

Can pectus excavatum be fixed?

Chest wall surgery is highly effective at correcting your sunken chest and freeing up some space for your heart and lungs. We offer three procedures depending on your condition, your age, and your goals.

The Ravitch technique

If your pectus excavatum is the result of an overgrowth of cartilage that’s pulling your ribs inward, the Ravitch procedure is the traditional approach. We remove the excess cartilage, move your ribs and breastbone back into a normal position, and insert a titanium rod to support the new contour of your chest wall.

The Nuss procedure

When tissue removal isn’t necessary, we perform the Nuss procedure, which is much less invasive and is guided by video thoracoscopy. Again, we insert titanium bars and stitch them in place to maintain the integrity of your rommier chest wall. See a brief video of the procedure here

Uniportal video-assisted thoracic surgery (Uni-VATS)

This procedure is very similar to the Nuss procedure, except it only requires one incision. During your consultation and evaluation, we let you know if you’re eligible for this type of surgery. 

What to do if you suspect pectus excavatum

In addition to the physical symptoms of pectus excavatum, there are also some emotional and mental effects to consider. 

The deep divot can cause severe body-image issues, which can lead to depression and isolation. Even if your physical symptoms are mild, surgery may still be warranted to avoid the negative social ramifications and self-esteem issues.

All chest wall surgeries are most effective on younger patients (puberty is ideal, as the body is still growing), but these procedures are very effective for adults as well — the results are successful and permanent 99% of the time. 

Recovery can take up to six weeks, and pain can be managed by oral medication or temporary nerve blocks. 

To find out more about pectus excavatum and whether your symptoms point to this condition, contact us by phone or online to schedule a consultation with our team. 

We have multiple offices in New York in Pomona, Goshen, Fishkill, and the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, as well as Englewood, New Jersey.

You Might Also Enjoy...

My Child Has Pectus Excavatum — Now What?

As a parent, you want nothing more than a happy, healthy life for your child. So seeing a sunken cavity in their chest caused by pectus excavatum can be alarming. Don’t panic. Here’s what you need to know.

Healthy Hacks That Support Lung Health

When it comes to essential body parts, your lungs rank right up there with your heart. Fortunately, you can take some proactive steps to keep your lungs in top condition. Here are some hacks and habits to get you started.

Common Risk Factors for Emphysema

Smoking ravages your lungs, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the leading causes of emphysema. But it might surprise you to learn that smoking isn’t the only risk factor for this serious lung condition. Find out more here.

What To Expect from Lung Cancer Treatments

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths, so hearing the diagnosis can be frightening. But lung cancer treatments can be extremely effective, especially in the early stages. Here’s what you need to know.

Is Oxygen Therapy Right for You?

There’s nothing more frightening than struggling to breathe. And if you live with a condition that compromises your lungs or heart, you may face this scary reality daily. Find out if oxygen therapy can help you breathe more easily.

Tips for Supporting Lung Health

You use them all day, every day, and your life depends on them working perfectly every time you take a breath. Learn some simple ways to ensure your lungs keep doing their jobs and what happens when they don’t.