Common Causes of Sternum Pain
The chest bone, or breastbone is formally known as the sternum and because of where the bone is located, as well as its primary purpose, sometimes people deal with sternum pain. Located in the center of the chest just below the collarbone, this bone is what connects the ribs via cartilage. This entire system of bones serves an important role of providing a protection to organs within the chest (i.e., heart, lungs). That way, if you were ever to experience an injury, chances are good damage would be minimal.
When it comes to sternum pain, this could be something that lasts just a few days or a chronic condition that you would have to deal with for life. Because there are so many reasons that pain of this type develops, we wanted to provide a brief overview of the more common cause for sternum pain. In some instances, the pain would go away on its own whereas other times, medical intervention would be required.
- Costochondritis – Sternum pain caused by this condition simply means some kind of injury or inflammation is involved. Of all reasons for pain in the chest region, this is the most common. Rather than the pain being associated with the lungs or heart, it is actually caused by injury, inflammation, or even a swollen cartilage connecting the sternum to the ribs.
- Sternoclavicular Joint Injury – With this, the sternoclavicular joint has been injured. This joint connects the sternum to the clavicle. The degree of injury could be something very mild or extremely serious.
- Collarbone Injury – If you were to experience a broken collarbone or even significant injury to this bone from a bad fall, car accident, or something similar, not only would the shoulders and upper part of your chest hurt but you would also have sternum pain.
- Sternum Fracture – Obviously, if a fracture were confirmed of this bone, you would likely have pain to some degree. Because the sternum is such a strong bone, if the break were caused by a serious injury, you may have other more serious injuries going on inside the body.
- Surgery – Another common cause of sternum pain would be surgery. For instance, some surgeries involve this particular bone so as it is manipulated, pain would follow. A prime example of surgery that would cause pain would be open heart surgery.
- Pleurisy – As inflammation of the pleura, which is a membrane comprised of two layers of tissues within the chest wall, having sternum pain is a common complaint. Typically, the space between these two layers of tissue holds a very small amount of fluid that works as lubrication so breathing is easy. However, without the proper level of fluid, the tissue would rub together, which causes pain when inhaling.
- Overuse – If you are extremely active, perhaps involved with physically demanding sports or a job that requires heavy use of the chest muscles, feeling this type of pain would be possible. Typically, reducing demand on the body would help prevent the problem in the future and rest would allow the pain to fade.
- Broken Ribs – Whether breaking one or more ribs from a car accident, fall, or some other trauma, because these bones are linked to the sternum, pain would be felt along the sides of the body where the ribs are located, as well as the sternum.
- Heart Attack – It is rare for sternum pain to be connected to an actual heart attack. However, there are times when a myocardial infarction can lead to sharp or stabbing pain in the neck, shoulders, back, stomach, arms, and jaw. Along with this, most people having a heart attack would have difficulty breathing, they would begin to sweat profusely, and they feel as if someone were sitting on their chest. This pain can be confusing, which is what leads some people to believe the sternum is involved. However, while chest pain is common with a heart attack, sternum pain typically is not.
In most cases, sternum pain is something that can easily be treated. In addition, a variety of things could be done to prevent this type of pain from returning. This is not to say that pain of this type is not real or that it does not hurt but it does provide some peace of mind in knowing that seldom is pain of this bone associated with anything overly serious.