It affects a part of your body called the pleura. When you are healthy, you never notice your pleura at work. But if your pleura has a problem, you will feel it.
The pleura is a thin layer of tissue that wraps your lungs. They fit snugly within your chest, which is lined with another thin layer of pleura.
These layers keep your bare lungs from rubbing against the wall of your chest cavity every time you breathe in. There’s a bit of fluid within the narrow space between the two layers of pleura to keep everything moving smoothly.
When you’re healthy, you never notice your pleura at work. But if your pleura has a problem, you’ll feel it.
When the pleurae are swollen and inflamed, they rub against each other in a very painful way each time your lungs expand. When you inhale deeply, cough, sneeze, or laugh, you’ll probably feel a sharp, stabbing pain in the area that’s affected.
Chest pain from pleurisy has signs that can make it easy for your doctor to know that you have it. You’re likely to notice these things:
- A sharp, stabbing pain that causes you to take small, shallow breaths because it’s worse when you try to breathe deeply
- Pain that spreads to your shoulder or back
- A cough
- Fever and chills