The sternum, also known as the chest bone or breastbone, is located in the chest’s central position just below the collarbone. This flat bone joins both sides of the rib bones through the cartilage.
Sternum pain is usually felt in the chest area and it is normally associated with various problems that are considered serious such as heart disease. Most of the time, the pain is caused by the inflammation of the breastbone. This means that the pain is not related to any heart condition.
The sternum pain may either be acute or chronic depending on an individual and cause. Sometimes, people who suffer from the pain may feel clicking, inability to stretch or cracking sensations at the sternum bone. The causes of sternum pain are many and varied. Therefore, one should visit the physician to correctly diagnose the cause.
Some Symptoms to Look For
You have to realize that there are different reasons why you may be suffering from sternum pain. Here are some of the symptoms to look for:
- Clicking Sounds of the Bones
- Inability to Stretch
There are times when the symptoms mentioned above are caused by injury or it may be caused by the person’s lifestyle. For example, there are some people who have overexercised. Some people may have done too much running that was required. These lifestyle choices can cause some pain.
The Most Common Cause of Sternum Pain – Costochondritis
This is known as the most common cause of sternum pain. This is the condition wherein the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone becomes inflamed. There are some symptoms that you will experience if you have this condition:
- You may start to experience pain in a couple of your ribs.
- The pain that you are feeling in your chest area may increase when you breathe deeply.
- You may feel some sharp pain on your sternum.
Costochondritis may appear because of different reasons. For example, you may be suffering from a chest injury. It is also likely that you have done a physical activity that has caused the area to become inflamed. This condition is not serious and will go away on its own but if you suspect that the cause of the pain may be something more serious, you can seek the help of your doctor.
Digestive Conditions That Cause Sternum Pain
There are a lot of people who experience having heartburn especially after eating. This is a condition wherein the stomach acids may come up of the esophagus. You may also experience stomach pain after you have eaten.
While this is non-cardiac chest pain, the pain may sometimes be too much to bear that people would feel the need to vomit food. Some people also experience nausea and cough. It is also expected that you may suffer from a sore throat. If you feel this type of pain whether it is heartburn or angina, you need to get yourself checked immediately. Unexplained chest pain is harder to deal with.
This is a digestive problem that can cause some pain to be felt not only in the breastbone area but in the areas surrounding it. You will know if this is the condition that you have if you would also experience other symptoms like nausea and bloating. Stomach ulcers may be caused by a type of bacteria called Helicobacter pylori or it may also be caused by some of the healthy choices that you make.
There are some people who become confused if they are suffering from acid reflux or heartburn. There are some symptoms that you have to watch out for so that you can see the distinction between the two. If you are suffering from acid reflux, you may experience some of these symptoms:
- Burning pain in your chest area
- Abnormal taste in your mouth
- Having trouble with swallowing
- Soreness of the throat
If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, get to know the ways on how you can prevent acid reflux. If you would continue to suffer from this condition, the time will come when it may become a chronic disease.
Respiratory Conditions That Cause Breastbone Pain
Respiratory conditions are those that can cause problems with your lungs, trachea and the other parts of your respiratory system.
This occurs when the bronchial tubes that are responsible for bringing air into your lungs become inflamed. You may become more prone to this condition when you are suffering from colds or flu. When you try to breathe in and breathe out, you will feel that your sternum is in pain. The pain may last for a short time but some people develop the chronic version of this disease because of infections.
There are some symptoms of bronchitis that you have to be familiar with such as the following:
- Wet cough that will require you to spit out mucus
- Having difficulty breathing
- Pain in your chest area
Remember that you are more prone to suffer from this condition when you have had colds and flu for a long time.
People who are suffering from acute pneumonia normally feel like they are about to die because they can barely breathe. Pneumonia occurs because of a bacteria or a virus. You need to look at some of the symptoms so that you can have yourself checked immediately. Some symptoms include the following:
- High fever
- Difficulty in breathing
- A persistent cough
If you suffer from these symptoms, you must immediately visit the doctor in order to give the appropriate medication. You will also be asked to rest.
This is a condition that affects the lungs. The pleura is the tissue that you can find within your chest cavity. There are times when fluids will fill it up or it can also become inflamed. When something is wrong with the pleura, sternum pain is bound to occur. You will know if this is the condition that you are suffering from if you experience the following:
- The pain increases when you cough or when you sneeze.
- You may be struggling to get air.
- A cough sounds abnormal compared to the usual cough that you have.
- You may also get a fever.
Remember that after all of the symptoms, it is a fever that is the rarest that you will get to experience when you have pleurisy.
Skeletal and Muscular Conditions That Cause Sternum Pain
If you have conditions affecting your skeletal system or your muscles, you may experience sternum pain.
The clavicle is connected to the sternum, so if you have any problems, your sternum will feel pain. You will know that if your clavicle is affected, you can hardly lift your arm because your clavicle area is injured. You also have to look for some swelling around the area. Other symptoms to watch out for are the following:
- Some pops and weird sounds when you try to lift your arms
- Your shoulder sags forward
- There are some bruises or bumps on the affected area of the collarbone
A hernia is also known as the condition when an organ is moved from its usual place because of a certain movement. Those who are suffering from this condition normally experience severe pain depending on the location of the area that is not in its proper place. The most common type of hernia is called hiatal hernia. This is a condition wherein the stomach goes up and locates itself near your chest cavity.
If you feel that this is the condition that you are suffering from, you have to know some of the most common symptoms:
- Having trouble with swallowing
- Feeling full even if you have not eaten a lot of food
- Throwing up blood
- Dark-colored stools
If you have just fractured your sternum, you can already expect that this will cause a great deal of pain for you. You may find it hard to move your upper body because this is connected to a lot of movements that you do with your upper body all the time.
The most common reason why you will get a sternum fracture is because of hitting your chest area with a blunt, solid object. You may get this fracture when you fall chest first on the floor or you hit the wall with your chest. Another possibility is when your seat belt almost cuts into your skin because of braking too hard.
You will know if this is the condition that you are suffering from when you notice that your sternum area starts to become inflamed. There may also be a bruise that will start to form near the sternum area.
Other Conditions That May Cause Sternum Pain
You may think that some of the conditions mentioned above are the only ones that can cause sternum pain but there are still different ones that can cause pain and discomfort:
There are times when you will get a panic attack when you are about to go through a situation that you are not too comfortable doing. There is still some time, when you think of something that will happen, even if not likely to happen soon, you can also experience panic. Some people suffered from panic because of frustration. Those who are suffering from generalized anxiety disorder may also suffer from a panic attack more. There are other symptoms that you may experience with this condition:
- Feeling Dizzy
- Chest Pain
- Having trouble breathing
- Having trouble swallowing
While it is unlikely that the pain in your sternum is brought about by a heart attack, there is still a possibility for this. If you are over the age of 40, this is more likely but if you are under 40 and you take good care of your health, the chances that you are going to experience this are less likely. Some symptoms that you may be having a heart attack are the following:
- Pain that is felt at the left side of your chest area
- The discomfort of some parts of your upper body
- Feeling dizzy
If you are experiencing two or more of the symptoms mentioned above, you need to get to the hospital immediately.
There are some conditions that are mentioned above that can be remedied by doing some lifestyle changes. The choices that you make will show through your body’s condition. Remember these things:
- Do not overexert yourself. If you cannot do it, stop.
- Take rests in between doing some exercises.
- Try to eat healthier food so that you can also boost your immune system. With a boosted immune system, you will be less prone to acquiring colds and flu.
- Try out some home remedies that can help cure minor conditions so that they will not escalate and turn into major ones.
- The food that you eat will have an effect on your overall health.
How to Remove Sternum Pain With Home Remedies
Sternum pain may take a long time to heal. During this period, it is advisable to take a lot of rest and avoid any heavy exercise. Some home remedies can also help speed the healing process, here are the best home remedies to relieve sternum pain.
Cold compresses are one of the best ways to reduce sternum swelling. Just prepare a few ice cubes or frozen peas, wrap them in a small rag or towel, and compress the area for 5-10 minutes, you can do this 2-3 times a day.
Note that do not put ice cubes directly on the skin as this can damage the skin.
Bromelain supplements and vitamins
Fresh pineapple has been shown to reduce swelling and pain of the sternum. It also provides vitamin C and K supplements. These vitamins have been shown to reduce healing time bruise considerably.
Low impact exercises
You can take some low impact exercises, such as cycling and swimming, which can help reduce muscle stiffness. You’d better talk to your doctor before participating in these activities to avoid aggravating your condition.
- Take a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables
- Avoid lifting heavy objects and repetitive movements that focus on the sternum area.
- Avoid smoking. This will reduce healing time.
When Should You See Your Doctor
You have learned all of the possible causes of the pain that you are feeling in your sternum. How will you know if you should see your doctor when all of the symptoms seem to be the same? There are some symptoms that may signify more serious problems such as the following:
- Having trouble breathing
- Pain that is felt from your chest going towards your upper body
- Chest pain wherein you cannot pinpoint its main cause
- Sweating even if there is no reason for you to sweat