5 Causes of sternum pain

Sternum pain, or pain in the breastbone, is a common and often unsettling symptom. It can range from mild discomfort to severe, sharp pain. If you’ve experienced sternum pain, you’re not alone. In this piece of writing, I will explore the potential causes of sternum pain and discuss when you should seek medical attention.

1. Musculoskeletal Causes

One of the most common reasons for sternum pain is musculoskeletal issues. These include:

a. Costochondritis: This condition involves inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the sternum. It can result from excessive coughing, heavy lifting, or repetitive strain on your chest.

b. Rib Fractures: A broken rib can cause you severe pain, and the discomfort may radiate to the sternum area. Accidents, falls, or direct trauma to the chest can cause rib fractures.

c. Muscle Strain: Overexertion or improper lifting techniques can lead to muscle strain in your chest, which can result in sternum pain.

2. Gastrointestinal Causes

Your stomach-related issues can sometimes manifest as sternum pain:

a. Acid Reflux (GERD): When stomach acid flows back into your esophagus, it can cause a burning sensation in the chest, often referred to as heartburn. This discomfort can be felt around the sternum area.

b. Gallbladder Issues: Gallstones or gallbladder inflammation can sometimes lead to referred pain in the chest.

3. Cardiovascular Causes

While less common, certain heart-related conditions can lead to sternum pain:

a. Angina: Reduced blood flow to the heart muscle can result in angina, which often causes chest pain or discomfort, including pain in the sternum area.

b. Pericarditis: Inflammation of the pericardium (the sac around the heart) can lead to sternum pain, which may worsen when breathing or lying down.

4. Respiratory Causesa.

a. Pleuritis: Inflammation of the lining of the lungs (pleura) can cause sharp pain in the chest, which you may feel in the sternum region.

b. Pneumonia: Severe lung infections like pneumonia can lead to chest pain, sometimes extending to the sternum.

5. Psychological Factors

Emotional stress and anxiety can manifest in you as physical symptoms, including chest pain. Sometimes, this pain is referred to as “stress-related chest pain.” It’s essential to consider the role of stress and anxiety in evaluating your symptoms.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While some cases of sternum pain may resolve on their own, it’s important not to ignore this symptom, as it can indicate underlying health issues. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Severe, crushing chest pain.
  • Pain radiating to the jaw, arm, or back.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Pain accompanied by dizziness, nausea, or profuse sweating.

For milder or persistent sternum pain, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional. They can help diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment or management options.

Don’t Forget!

Sternum pain can have various causes, ranging from musculoskeletal issues to gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and respiratory factors. Understanding the potential sources of sternum pain is crucial in seeking appropriate medical guidance. Remember that chest pain can be a symptom of serious conditions, so it’s always better to err on the side of caution and consult a healthcare provider when in doubt. Prompt evaluation and diagnosis will help you find the right treatment and ensure your health and well-being.

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