"Mom, my chest hurts when I breathe."
Bedtime. These things nearly always happen at bedtime and the temptation is to simply tell him to get his butt back to bed. Something in his voice tells me that this is more than the usual bedtime stall. His voice sounds small, pinched. I can tell that he is in pain.
He is pink. Glowing almost. Clearly whatever is causing this hasn't affected his oxygenation.
His breath sounds are clear and equal and heart rhythm is regular and rate is about 90. Yes. When your mom is a nurse, the stethoscope comes in handy to rule out ominous things like spontaneous pneumothorax (although the pink lips offered more reassurance there) .
I gave him some water to sip and sat him on the couch for a few minutes to see which way this was going to go. Within a few minutes, his voice was back to normal, although he still complained of pain. When he tried to make a play for the TV controller to turn on "Deadliest Catch" I knew he was going to be OK and sent him to bed.
I can remember having similar symptoms as an adolescent. The pain only lasted a few minutes, but boy did it hurt at the time. Once he headed back up the stairs, I got on Google to find out what this is called.
Precordial Catch Syndrome seems to be the most likely cause of this new symptom. He's the right age, the pain was exactly as described, and the symptoms passed quickly enough. Nobody seems to know what causes it. The pain is exclusively on inspiration (breathing in) and it resolves within minutes. It is possible to break the cycle by taking a deep breath, but I couldn't talk him into that tonight.
He's due for a physical shortly, so if this happens again (likely), we'll discuss it with his pediatrician then. I'm pretty sure he can make a case for sucking it up and taking that deep breath that will break the cycle. If it becomes more frequent, or is accompanied by more worrisome symptoms, we'll make an appointment to be sure this isn't something more serious.