Sternum Pain: What Is It?

Is that this trigger for concern?

Your sternum, or breastbone, connects the 2 sides of your rib cage collectively. It sits in entrance of many main organs positioned in your chest and intestine, together with your coronary heart, lungs, and abdomen. In consequence, many situations that don’t essentially have something to do along with your sternum could trigger ache in your sternum and the encompassing space.

Your first response to chest ache, particularly extreme or constant chest ache, could also be to suppose it’s a coronary heart assault. However in lots of instances, chest ache has nothing to do along with your coronary heart. That is very true in case you’re beneath age 40 and don’t have any severe well being points or current situations.

Sternum ache is definitely extra seemingly brought on by situations that need to do along with your muscle tissue, your bones, or your digestive tract than along with your coronary heart or the sternum itself.

Maintain studying to study the commonest causes for sternum ache and when you must see your physician.

The commonest explanation for sternum ache is a situation referred to as costochondritis. This happens when the cartilage that connects your ribs to your sternum turns into infected.

Signs of costochondritis embrace:

  • sharp pains or aches on the facet of your sternum space
  • ache or discomfort in a number of ribs
  • ache or discomfort that will get worse if you cough or breathe in deeply

Costochondritis doesn’t all the time have a selected trigger, however it’s most frequently a results of a chest damage, pressure from bodily exercise, or joint situations like osteoarthritis. Costochondritis isn’t a severe situation and shouldn’t trigger you to be involved.

See your physician if the ache persists or if in case you have different signs which may point out a extra severe underlying situation.

Situations or accidents to the muscle tissue and bones round your sternum also can trigger sternum ache.

This contains:

  • joint damage
  • collarbone (clavicle) damage
  • fractures
  • hernias
  • surgical procedure on the sternum (akin to open coronary heart surgical procedure)

These aren’t the one musculoskeletal situations which will make your sternum harm, however they’re among the many commonest.

Sternoclavicular joint damage

The sternoclavicular joint (SC joint) connects the highest of your sternum along with your collarbone (clavicle). Harm to this joint may cause ache and discomfort in your sternum and within the space in your higher chest the place this joint exists.

Widespread signs of damage to this joint embrace:

  • feeling gentle ache or having aching and swelling round your higher chest and collarbone space
  • listening to pops or clicks within the joint space
  • feeling stiff across the joint or not with the ability to totally transfer your shoulder

Collarbone trauma

The collarbone is immediately related to your sternum, so accidents, dislocation, fractures, or different trauma to the collarbone can have an effect on the sternum.

Widespread signs of collarbone trauma embrace:

  • bruises or bumps round space of collarbone damage
  • intense ache if you attempt to transfer your arm upwards
  • swelling or tenderness round collarbone space
  • pops, clicks, or grinding noises if you carry your arm
  • irregular frontward sagging of your shoulder

Sternum fracture

Fracturing your sternum may cause a number of ache, as a result of your sternum is concerned in a lot of your higher physique actions. One of these damage is commonly brought on by blunt power accidents to your chest. Examples of this embrace your seat belt tightening in a automobile accident or your chest getting hit whilst you’re enjoying sports activities or doing different high-impact bodily exercise.

Widespread signs embrace:

  • ache if you breathe in or cough
  • problem respiration
  • pops, clicks, or grinding noises if you transfer your arms
  • swelling and tenderness over the sternum

Muscle pressure or hernia

Pulling or straining a muscle in your chest may cause ache round your sternum.

Widespread signs of a pulled muscle embrace:

  • ache across the pulled muscle
  • discomfort when utilizing the affected muscle
  • bruising or tenderness across the affected muscle

A hernia also can trigger sternum ache. A hernia occurs when an organ is pushed or pulled from the world the place it usually sits into a close-by a part of the physique.

The commonest form is a hiatal hernia. This occurs when your abdomen strikes up previous your diaphragm into your chest cavity.

Widespread signs of a hiatal hernia embrace:

  • frequent burping
  • heartburn
  • having hassle swallowing
  • feeling such as you ate an excessive amount of
  • throwing up blood
  • having black-colored stool

Try: Muscle pressure remedy »

Your sternum sits proper in entrance of a number of main digestive organs. Situations that have an effect on your esophagus, abdomen, and intestines can all trigger sternum ache. Having heartburn or acid reflux disorder after a meal are the commonest gastrointestinal causes for sternum ache.


Heartburn occurs when acid out of your abdomen leaks into your esophagus and causes chest ache. It’s widespread to get proper after you eat. Ache often will get worse if you lie down or bend ahead.

Heartburn often goes away with out remedy after a short while.

Try: Submit-meal tricks to ease heartburn »

Acid reflux disorder

Acid reflux disorder is just like heartburn, however occurs when abdomen acid and even what’s in your abdomen begins to trouble or put on away the liner of your esophagus. It may be a part of a power situation referred to as gastroesophageal reflux illness.

Signs of acid reflux disorder embrace:

  • burning in your chest
  • irregular bitter style in your mouth
  • problem swallowing
  • coughing
  • throat soreness or hoarseness
  • feeling like you’ve a lump in your throat

Study extra: The best way to stop acid reflux disorder and heartburn »

Situations that have an effect on your lungs, windpipe (trachea), and different components of your physique that assist you to breathe may cause sternum ache.


Pleurisy occurs when your pleura will get infected. The pleura is made up of tissue inside your chest cavity and round your lungs. In some instances, fluid can construct up round this tissue. That is referred to as pleural effusion.

Widespread signs embrace:

  • sharp ache if you breathe in, sneeze, or cough
  • feeling like you possibly can’t get sufficient air
  • an irregular cough
  • fever (in uncommon instances)


Bronchitis occurs when the bronchial tubes that convey air into your lungs grow to be infected. It typically occurs if you get the flu or a chilly.

Bronchitis ache also can make your sternum harm as you breathe out and in. It could possibly final solely briefly (acute bronchitis) or grow to be a long-term situation (power bronchitis) as a consequence of smoking or infections.

Widespread bronchitis signs embrace:

  • persistent moist cough that causes you to spit up mucus
  • wheezing
  • problem respiration
  • ache or discomfort in your chest

Flu or chilly signs that may associate with bronchitis embrace:

  • excessive fever
  • exhaustion
  • runny nostril
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Try: 7 house treatments for bronchitis »


Pneumonia occurs when your lungs get contaminated by a virus or micro organism.

Widespread signs of pneumonia embrace:

  • problem respiration
  • excessive fever
  • persistent cough

Different situations that have an effect on your gastrointestinal tract or your chest muscle tissue may cause sternum ache.

Abdomen ulcer

A abdomen ulcer (peptic ulcer) occurs if you get a sore on the liner of your abdomen or on the backside of your esophagus.

Signs of a abdomen ulcer embrace:

  • abdomen ache, particularly on an empty abdomen, that responds to antacids
  • feeling bloated
  • nausea
  • lack of urge for food

Panic assault

A panic assault occurs if you immediately really feel concern, as if one thing harmful or threatening is occurring, with no precise purpose to be afraid. It’s typically a results of stress or a symptom of psychological well being situations, akin to generalized anxiousness dysfunction or melancholy.

Signs of a panic assault embrace:

  • feeling like one thing unhealthy is about to occur
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • having hassle respiration or swallowing
  • sweating
  • feeling alternately cold and warm
  • abdomen cramps
  • chest ache

Try: 11 methods to cease a panic assault »

Sternum ache can typically be the results of a coronary heart assault. That is a lot much less seemingly in case you’re beneath age 40 or are in general good well being. They’re extra prone to occur in case you’re over 40 and have an current situation, akin to coronary heart illness.

A coronary heart assault is life-threatening. It is best to go to the emergency room straight away if in case you have any signs moreover sternum ache which will point out a coronary heart assault, particularly if they seem with none apparent trigger or in case you’ve had a coronary heart assault earlier than.

Signs of a coronary heart assault embrace:

  • chest ache within the center or left facet of your chest
  • ache or discomfort in your higher physique, together with your arms, shoulder, and jaw
  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • having hassle respiration
  • sweating
  • nausea

The extra of those signs you’ve, the extra seemingly that you simply’re having a coronary heart assault.

See your physician straight away if in case you have coronary heart assault signs or signs that trigger you sharp, constant ache that will get in the best way of your every day life.

You also needs to see your physician if in case you have any of the next signs:

  • sternum and normal chest ache that has no apparent trigger
  • sweating, dizziness, or nausea with no particular trigger
  • hassle respiration
  • ache that spreads out of your chest all through your higher physique
  • chest tightness

If you happen to’re experiencing different signs and so they final for various days, discuss to your physician.

You will discover a major care physician close to you thru the Healthline FindCare device

Your subsequent steps rely upon what situation may be inflicting your sternum ache and the way extreme the situation is.

You might simply must take over-the-counter ache remedy or change your food plan. However it’s possible you’ll want long-term remedy if the underlying situation is extra severe. In some instances, it’s possible you’ll want surgical procedure to deal with a coronary heart or gastrointestinal situation.

As soon as your physician diagnoses the trigger, they will develop a remedy plan that may assist relieve the signs and causes of your sternum ache.

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