Chest Pain with CPAP

by Sue
(M. Aurora, il)

My husband has used the cpap machine for 4 months and is getting sleep results with it, but ever since he started using it he will wake up after about 6-7 hrs sleep with extreme pain under his diaphragm and in his back.

The doctor doesn't seem to know why. He has decreased the pressure - with no results.

Do you know why and how to fix this problem? He is sleeping more, but with this pain upon waking, it is getting him down.


The chest pain from using CPAP is a mystery for many doctors, especially for those without experience. Sometimes a patient with CPAP chest pain needs to visit different types of doctors (pulmonary doctor, rheumatologist, cardiologist) to discover if there is a chest infection, or heart problems.

So it's very important to understand that any unexplained chest pain should be checked out by doctors.

Note: Unexplained means anything that is not related with stretched muscles from physical exercises or something similar.

Now, let's assume for a moment that your husband doesn't have medical problems (heart problems, infections, fybromialgia, etc.) then he clearly is not comfortable with the CPAP pressure.

By the way, you didn't say how high is the CPAP pressure. Is it over 15?

There are 2 reasons why a person may have CPAP chest pain:

  1. one reason is the high pressure, when your husband is probably breathing more deeply because of it. This can stretch the chest muscles more than they are used to being stretched.

    Stretching the chest muscles can cause chest pain, and this pain usually disappear in max 8 weeks of CPAP use.

  2. the second reason is that your husband sleeps now much better than before using CPAP, so he may not be moving around as much in his sleep anymore.

    This can put additional strains to his back, but he will probably get used to the strains in a couple of weeks.

Solution to CPAP Chest Pain

If your husband has problems with the CPAP pressure, a good solution is to lower the value to an acceptable pressure.

I know that his doctor already lowered the air pressure, but maybe is not enough. There is a solution to this, but it may be expensive:

  • it's possible to combine the CPAP with a sleep apnea dental device, which will dramatically lower the CPAP pressure without losing the benefits of the treatment.

  • The dental device is a mouthpiece that fits over the upper and lower teeth, holding the lower jaw slightly forward. This will keep the soft palate and tongue from falling back into your throat when you sleep, preventing snoring and sleep apnea episodes.

    So, a lot of mechanical work will be taken by the dental device, thus allowing the CPAP to do his job at a much lower pressure.

    Note: To use a dental device combined with CPAP, a nasal pillow or nasal mask will be needed.

  • you could try a sleep apnea dental device instead of CPAP. In this case, there is no air pressure, and no uncomfortable CPAP mask, hose, or CPAP machine. It should be much more comfortable.

  • there are some special functions on expensive CPAP machines, which help exhaling easier when you sleep with CPAP. These functions are EPR (on ResMed CPAP machines) and C-Flex (on Respironics CPAP machines). Check if these functions are enabled.

  • using a BiPAP machine can help the patients with high pressure, because the pressure drops through the whole exhalatory phase. It's not constant pressure like in CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure).

  • the final option is to work the chest muscles through breathing exercises and they will get use to it.

Other articles that can be interesting for you:

I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back.

Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide

Comments for Chest Pain with CPAP

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Dec 30, 2017
Could be Gas Pains
by: Anonymous

I have had problems with chest pains back pains.
I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia which keeps my stomach open and CPAP blows air into my stomach.

I have to get up and try to release and pass the gas thru me and then strap on the mask and sleep till morning when I have to do the same. I get down in a baby pose and try and relax which is not as easy as I'm in so much pain and so full of air I can hardly walk!

It's a small price to pay to see as the way I feel now after waiting for right machine 3 yrs having 40AHI
I really feel amazing most of the day now, feels like my brain has been massaged when I wake up.

I can't ever remember feeling as good as I feel after just 2 weeks. I have had 3 machines over past year, tried every type mask nothing seemed to work until I got ASV machine.

I have Central Sleep Apnea from trauma to my neck from 3 rear end traffic accidents.
I'm interested in finding out if how many others have Central Sleep Apnea?

Feb 25, 2018
Chest pain during sleep
by: Hull lad

I've used cpap for a couple of years now and I'm still experiencing chest pain to left side when I'm asleep on my right I've spoke to the doctors and clinic and they say theve never heard of this before.

I've experienced the feeling of been bloated with ait when I've slept a long time however this is completely different this is a very sharp pain like a cramp left side under breast and toward my side almost like pinning me to the bed I find this very painful but as soon as I return to sleeping in my left the pain goes has anyone else experienced This? I use the cpap on level 10 with the full face mask

Feb 26, 2018
Arrophegia (sp?)
by: Anonymous

I have central sleep apnea, and I have a hiatal hernia, so any CPAP machine I use, my stomach and gut get filled with air due to a hiatal hernia.

I wake up a few times a night get in yoga baby pose to relieve gas and if you aren't careful with your diet this condition can make life uncomfortable. For this, I watch what I eat and what time I eat is most important. I eat dinner at 4-5 pm and that way by 10-11 when I hit the hay my stomach is empty and it very important that I sleep on the left side as during sleep study I had fewer AHI on the left side.

This condition is manageable I now wear depends as it has caused "wet gas" and I had messed my bed and clothes. Its a small price to pay to get sleep, due to doctors and insurance, my condition went untreated for 3 years, I was a mess of anxiety depression and anger, now that I get 5-6 hours on
ASVbipap machine, I feel better than I can ever remember, hoping the oxygen-starved brain which made some very bad decisions in those three years
and hardly remember anything from past 10 yrs.
Hoping my brain will get better with time.

Sep 20, 2018
Chest pain
by: Wroy

Sleep apnea caused me chest pain, that is how I got diagnosed 8 years ago. CPAP has improved my sleep but the high pressure, 18, on it own started to cause me chest pain. I switched to Bipap 18/14 autoset with a little improvement in my chest pain.

My chest pain I believe is cardiac. I don't get the chest pain every morning (The frequency goes up when my weight goes up) but when I do wake up with chest pain, it gets worse on exertion and I easily get short of breath.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to convince multiple pulmonologist and cardiologist that the pain is cardiac related and my health is getting worse. I did a stress test 5 years ago that was OK.

I am exploring the recommendations of this article to combine a dental appliance with the Bipap and see how it goes with a lower pressure.

Mar 30, 2023
CPAP and chest pain NEW
by: Cathie

I have used a CPP machine for a number of years.i gave always had trouble with pressure levels. My doctor says - you figure it out. The machine provider suggested increasing the pressure to 9 from 8 and it worked for a month until the chest pain started. Then got worse. After a couple of trips to the ER room,as the first concern is heart issues, I finally got diagnosed with costocontritis. It went away after two 10 day sessions of naproxine and acetaminaphine. But then comes ofc and on. I reduced the pressure to 6 and that works better but still get it from time to time but less severe. My machine provider - another rep - suggested increasing the ramp times so now its 40 nminutes. Much better. I have always used a dental device.

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