Sometimes a person will experience chest pain they describe as feeling “electrical” or “like electricity running through” and think it’s GERD at work.

However, there is no condition that literally causes electric currents to run through the chest or upper torso.

Not even a heart attack or ruptured aneurysm causes this sensation.

So if you’re feeling electrical sensations in your chest, it only seems like it’s electrical in origin.

Could the electrical sensation
in your chest be from GERD?

“If a person has esophageal erosions or ulcerations, acid reflux can cause sharp pain which is sometimes described as a pinprick sensation,” says Hugh Mai, MD, Director of Endoscopic Ultrasonography and Bariatric Endoscopy, Gastroenterology Division, Sinai Hospital of Baltimore and LifeBridge Health.

“Otherwise, the most likely atypical referred sensation could be due to reflux-reflex response.

“A reflux-reflex response involving GERD means the brain is trying to stop the acid from getting into the larynx and the lungs by telling the muscle in the esophagus to squeeze tightly.

“That can lead to esophageal spasms (non-acid chest pain) and spasms of the bronchioles causing asthma, wheezing or dry cough reflex to clear the throat.

“If taking a strong acid suppressor does not relieve the sensation, further evaluation is needed because the sensation may not be related to acid reflux after all.” It can be heart related.

But remember, it’s not actual electrical currents running through your chest causing this feeling — even if the cause is cardiac in origin.

How Acid Reflux Can Make the Chest Feel

  • Pain, sometimes severe. It can mimic that of a heart attack.
  • A burning or abrasive feeling (a.k.a. heartburn).
  • A feeling of heaviness.
  • A dull, medium or strong ache.
  • Upper abdominal burning or discomfort may also be present.
  • A feeling of something stuck in the chest or esophagus.

Dr. Mai is well-versed in the endoscopic treatment of GERD. LifeBridge Health provides the Baltimore community and beyond with a wide array of choices in health care services.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.