Pleurisy (Pleuritis)

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Understanding COPD

What are the symptoms of pleurisy?

Symptoms of pleurisy include:

  1. pain in the chest that is aggravated by breathing,
  2. shortness of breath, and/or
  3. a "stabbing" sensation.

The most common symptom of pleurisy is pain that is generally aggravated by inspiration (breathing in). Although the lungs themselves do not contain any pain nerves, the pleura contains abundant nerve endings. When extra fluid accumulates in the space between the layers of pleura, the pain usually is a less severe form of pleurisy. With very large amounts of fluid accumulation, the expansion of the lungs can be limited, and shortness of breath can worsen.

The chest (thoracic) cavity represents both the front and back of the upper portion of the body. If the inflammation is more toward the back, then the pain may be described as a back pain. Of importance is that with pleurisy; the the pain will worsen with deep breaths. Most other causes of back pain don't have this symptom, however, for some people back pain will worsen with cough. (As can be seen in spinal disc disease.)

Reviewed on 8/3/2015
References
REFERENCE:

Fauci, Anthony S., et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 17th ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2011.

IMAGES:

1.MedicineNet

2."2313 The Lung Pleurea" by OpenStax College - Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013.. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

3.iStock

4."Thoracentesis" by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - Thoracentesis. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

5.Getty Images

6."Thoracentesis" by National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute - Thoracentesis. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

7.iStock

8."Pleurisy and pneumothorax" by National Heart Lung and Blood Institute

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Allergy and Asthma Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

VIEW PATIENT COMMENTS
  • Pleurisy (Pleuritis) - Diagnosis

    How was the diagnosis of your pleurisy (pleuritis) established?

    Post View 38 Comments
  • Pleurisy (Pleuritis) - Treatments

    How was your pleurisy treated?

    Post View 27 Comments
  • Pleurisy - Symptoms

    What symptoms did you experience with your pleurisy?

    Post View 25 Comments
  • Pleurisy - Causes

    What was the underlying condition that caused your pleurisy?

    Post View 6 Comments

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors