How to crack your sternum

This article was co-authored by Eric Christensen, DPT and by wikiHow staff writer, Amy Bobinger. Eric Christensen is a Physical Therapist based in Chandler, Arizona. With over a decade of experience, Eric works in both orthopedic and neurological fields and specializes in custom orthotic prescription and casting, vestibular reprogramming, and manual therapy. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Sports Medicine from Colorado State University and a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Regis University. In practice, Eric takes a developmental approach to rehabilitation utilizing the Selective Functional Movement Assessment. He uses functional movement patterning and manual therapy to return patients to prior levels of function.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 514,049 times.

Sometimes if you’re stretching a certain way, you may hear a popping sound that comes from your sternum. This can sometimes be accompanied by a feeling of relief, especially if you’ve been struggling with muscle soreness in your chest. There are even stretches you can do if you want to try to crack your sternum yourself. While it’s no more dangerous than popping any other joint in your body, you should see a doctor if you have persistent chest pain, or if the popping is accompanied by tingling or severe pain, as that could be indicative of a more serious issue.

Published by eChristensen on April 13, 2021 April 13, 2021

Dr. Eric Christensen was recently featured in a number of wikiHow articles!

This article highlights how to properly stretch your chest and crack your sternum.

How to crack your sternum

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Sternum popping , collar bone cracking , or joint cracking in general is not considered harmful; and if you go see your doctor about it, he/she will probably tell you not to worry.

This is a natural occurrence and, though we are still unsure why it happens, we are fairly certain it does not pose any threat to your joint health (kinda weird we can make this claim when we don`t know the exact cause of it, don you think?).

Anyways, today we are here to talk about cracking in one specific area of our body – sternum . Before we go into the actual causes of joint popping, I think we should talk a little about the anatomy of the breastbone.

Sternum Anatomy

As you can see on the image below, edges of the breastbone are quire jagged… this is because it articulates with both clavicle bones and cartilages of the first seven ribs. And this is where that clicking noise takes place. It is usually in the sternoclavicular joint (joint between the collarbone and sternum) or in any of the numerous sternocostal joints (joints between the ribs and the sternum).

How to crack your sternumImage 1: Sternum – back and side view

So Why Do These Joints Pop?

Sternum popping, and joint popping in general, usually happens spontaneously, on its own… of course, there are exception – like popping your back for instance. I, sometimes, like to pop my back after sitting at my computer for a long time. Other people like cracking their knuckles.

One thing is for sure, though, we still don`t fully understand exact causes and mechanisms which lead to joint popping. I know it sounds crazy, but its true! But, we can make some educated guesses:

  • Ligaments and tendons snapping – when we move our joints, other structures within the joint move as well, such as tendons and ligaments. Some researchers believe that these cracking noises are caused by these ligaments and tendons snapping into their original place
  • Gasses – no, not the ones that pop in mind first; I am talking about gas bubbles that get released from joint fluid as we move
  • Rough, uneven surfaces – this is especially common in arthritis sufferers where popping and cracking noise is caused by uneven edges of the bone. Of course, this is very painful and not common in healthy individuals
  • Partial dislocations , bones popping out of place etc

Sternum Popping When Stretching

I don`t know about you, but I notice these cracking noises in my breastbone only when I`m stretching, sometime I hear a pop when I take a really deep breath.

Once again, this is completely normal, especially if you are stretching yourself after longer period of inactivity (in the morning, for instance). But if you start experiencing pain, tenderness of soreness in the breastbone area, you should talk to your doctor.

Sternoclavicular Cracking When Doing Dips

I tried doing dips several months ago and, when I finished my set, I was struck by an intense, sharp pain in area around my collarbone. I haven`t experienced cracking, but some of my friends did. So, what I did in this situation?

Well, at first I stopped doing them altogether… But, as the time went by, I started getting back to them but I only do 3,4 reps; no more because I know (fear) I will experience that same pain again and injure myself.

What advice I can give you? My first advice would be to find someone who knows what he`s doing. It doesn`t have to be a personal trainer, but make sure you find someone familiar with these types of exercises to show you the correct way of doing dips. And if the pain persists, consider visiting your doctor.

Most Common Causes Of Sternum Popping and Cracking

  • Physical injuries – sternum bruising and light injuries are common in some sports (like basketball, soccer, football etc.) and, even though they will heal quickly, they can cause these popping sounds. More severe traumas can also cause them – high speed collisions where you slam your chest against the steering wheel, for example
  • Muscle spasms -if the spasm is strong enough, it can cause partial dislocation of the ribs, as we mentioned above
  • Strenuous activity – any strenuous activity which puts additional pressure to the chest, can cause sternum popping. Activities such as weight lifting, doing dips and even push ups
  • Costochondritis – an inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs. This is a relatively harmless condition and it will usually go away on its own, without any treatment; but the sternum can be painful and tender to touch
  • Tietze syndrome – this is also an inflammation of the cartilage of the ribs but it differentiates from costochondritis because cartilage is usually swollen
  • Arthritis – arthritis can cause joint degeneration, rough and uneven surfaces which can cause clicking, popping and cracking noises when they rub against each other. The pain may vary depending on the severity of the degeneration, but it can be very painful

Can You Treat Breastbone Popping – When To Go See A Doctor?

If you are a healthy individual, and you experience breast bone joint popping from time to time, there is really no need to worry. This is normal and it happens to all of us, so there is really no need to “heal” it. In some cases it will go away on its own, and in others it may stuck with you for years.

But if you start experiencing pain, swelling, tenderness or a general feeling of discomfort, you should visit your doctor and see if there is some underlying condition which is causing these symptoms. It is usually nothing serious, but it is worth checking it out just for the peace of mind.

  • Image 1 – Source: Gray H. Anatomy of the human body, page 120

What is the sternum?

The sternum is also known as breastbone. It is a flat, bony plate located in the center of the thorax (chest). The shape of the sternum is like a capital “T”. The ribs are connected to the sternum in the front and to the spine at the back, with the help of cartilages. The sternum also is connected with the clavicles on each side.

Anatomically, the sternum is divided into three regions:

  • The manubrium
  • The body
  • The xiphoid process

The major function of the sternum and the thorax are to protect the heart, lungs, and the great blood vessels from any trauma.

How to crack your sternum

Why does the sternum crack?

A cracking sound from the sternum is associated with the joints that connect the ribs and the clavicle to the sternum. The problem is usually with the joints that connect the ribs and not the ones that connect the clavicles.

Cracking of the sternum is usually accompanied by pain, tenderness and in some cases joint swelling.

It may be due to partial dislocation, the “snapping” of ligaments or tendons, or gas bubbles released from the joint fluid.

The cracking of the sternum usually occurs with deep breathing or stretching the arms wildly. In some cases, the cracking of the sternum is spontaneous.

Usually it is not considered to be a medical problem, unless you have pain, reduced joint movement, stiffness or even swelling of the joint.

If any of these symptoms occur after the cracking of the sternum, you should seek medical help and request further examinations.

What causes the sternum to crack?

The main causes are:

  • Trauma to the chest area like car accidents, falls, or assault.
  • Muscle spasm, which can even cause a subluxation of the joints. Chest pain is always present.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – doesn’t typically affect these joints, but in widespread cases the degeneration of the joints can cause them to crack.
  • Tietze’s Syndrome usually affects the second and third ribs. It is the inflammation of the costal cartilage, just like costochondritis. Pain, stiffness and even swelling are present.
  • Physical strain is seen in case of activities that put pressure on the chest wall like excessive weight lifting.
  • Costochondritis is the inflammation of the costal cartilage. Usually affects the fourth, fifth and sixth ribs. Pain and tenderness are common, while swelling of the joints is very rare.
  • Calcification of the costal cartilage.

In this Article

  • Causes of a Broken Sternum
  • Signs of a Broken Sternum
  • Treatment for a Broken Sternum
  • Complications of a Broken Sternum
  • Recovery From a Broken Sternum

‌‌The sternum – sometimes called the breastbone – is the flat bone in the center of your chest. Your ribs and collarbone connect to your sternum.В

A break in your sternum is also known as a sternal fracture. Most sternal fractures heal on their own and don’t need surgery.

Causes of a Broken Sternum

‌A broken sternum is most often caused by an accident where something hits your chest with a great deal of force. Examples include:

  • ‌Car crashes
  • Sports injuries – from high-impact sports like football
  • Falling from a great height
  • Physical assault or attack
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Stress fractures of the sternum are breaks that aren’t due to a major injury. Occasionally, a sternal stress fracture is seen in a golfer, weightlifter, or other athlete who exercises their upper body over and over.В

You have a higher chance of a stress fracture of the sternum if you have:

  • ‌ Kyphosis, a severe curve in the upper back
  • Osteopenia, bones that are weaker and thinner than they should be
  • Osteoporosis, bone loss that’s more severe than osteopenia

Additionally, older adults and people who must take steroids for long periods of time are at higher risk of a sternal stress fracture.В

Signs of a Broken Sternum

‌A sternal fracture can be diagnosed by X-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound. There are several symptoms of a broken sternum, including:

Chest pain. A broken sternum typically causes moderate to severe pain when the accident occurs. The pain may get worse when you take a deep breath, cough, or sneeze. The area over the sternum may be tender and hurt if touched.

Shortness of breath. Up to 20% of people with a broken sternum feel like they can’t get enough air when they breathe.‌

Bruising. In about half of cases of sternal fractures, you can see bruises or swelling on the chest.

Treatment for a Broken Sternum

‌The doctor will check your heart to make sure it wasn’t also hurt in the accident. You may need pain medicine to move around and do normal daily tasks. ‌

Most sternal fractures heal on their own without splinting or any other treatment. Complete recovery – when all pain is gone – usually takes 8 to 12 weeks. Surgery is only needed if the broken parts of the sternum aren’t lined up correctly (your doctor might say “displaced”) or if they can be shifted out of place when you move normally (your doctor might say “unstable”).

Complications of a Broken Sternum

‌Normally you clear your lungs without even thinking about it. Every day you take deep breaths, laugh, and cough. All those actions move the chest wall though, which hurts when your sternum is broken.В

Because of the pain, you may take fewer deep breaths, avoid laughing, and cough less often. You’d also probably move less than you normally would. This can allow fluid to settle in your lungs, which may lead to a chest infection.

Recovery From a Broken Sternum

‌While your sternum is healing, there’s a lot you can do to prevent a chest infection and ease your pain.В

Breathe deeply. Try to take at least 10 deep breaths every hour you are awake. This can help clear fluid from your lungs and prevent an infection.

Cough. Coughing is also important to clear your lungs. Don’t try to keep yourself from coughing. Don’t take cough suppressant medicine, either. When you do cough or sneeze, support your chest by tightly hugging a pillow or rolled-up towel.

Move. You need to rest as you heal, but try not to stay in bed all day. Alternate resting with light activity. Gentle movement will help keep your lungs clear.

However, for the first 6 to 8 weeks avoid lifting, pushing, or pulling anything that weighs more than 10 pounds.В This includes pushing or pulling when you turn over or get out of bed. Instead, brace your chest by crossing your arms, hugging tightly, then using your legs to change your position.

Many people with a sternal fracture find that their shoulders and back get stiff and sore because they stop using their arms as much. You should avoid reaching overhead or reaching back with both arms at the same time. However, do try to move your arms gently by doing some of your normal activities. Start small and work up gradually. Be sure to stop if it makes your pain worse.

Take pain medicine as needed. Follow your doctor’s instructions about taking pain relief medicine. Keep your pain under control so that you can breathe deeply, cough, and go about your daily activities.‌

Don’t smoke. Talk with your doctor about how to quit. Smoking slows bone healing, and it’ll raise your chances for infection.

Show Sources

‌AfterTrauma: “Managing chest wall injuries.”

‌Fairview Health Services: “Sternal fracture.”

‌‌Journal of Emergencies, Trauma, and Shock: “Sternal fractures and their management.”

‌‌Oxford University Hospitals: “Rib fractures and chest injury.”

‌‌St. George’s University Hospitals: “Sternum (Breast Bone) Fracture.”

‌‌StatPearls: “Sternal Fracture.”

Guest over a year ago

Evita Peron 777 over a year ago

I know exactly what kind of pain you feel. When I probably had this “meeting” with cracked sternum I didn’t notice since I was at some party with my friends. But next morning, the pain was unreal. I was not able to remember what has happened, but there we go.

You can’t do much about this alone you should seek for some good advice, maybe therapy or good treatment from your doctor.

This can be really awkward because you really can feel huge pain and generally sometimes it is nothing – just a simple crack that you can’t put in the “injury” category.

Miia2818 over a year ago

I know a couple of people who also have these cracking sensations but the funny thing is that nobody knows what it actually is.
One of my best friends sits in front of the computer a lot and he actually feels a relief when his sternum cracks but I don’t like the sound of it at all.

Have you thought of seeing a pulmonologist or a chiropractic? They may be able to tell you if there’s a problem or not.

I keep telling my friend to go and see a doc but he just doesn’t want to listen.

Guest over a year ago

Guest over a year ago

I have noticed that that happens to me when I’m sitting for long periods in front of the computer. I slowly start courving my back until it really hurts, I don’t like this pain but in the moment that I strech and my sternum cracks I feel relieved.

I don’t know if is attributable to weight gain. I used to be 130-135 lbs, but in the last 18 months I have put around 15 lbs more, and basically at the same time this pain started.

Guest over a year ago

four20tiger10712 over a year ago

I have cracking of my sternum as well. I can’t say mine is attributed to weight gain. It’s been happening for some years now (I’m 26), but has gotten more severe as time goes on. I lift regularly (3-4 times per week), have been active in sports (lacrosse), and am not sure if it can be attributed to injury or not. It’s annoying, I deal with it, but am curious if it is a worse problem than what I lead on to be.

the way I deal with it is that when I feel a tightening in my chest, I “push” my shoulders toward my chest (as if I were clasping my arms in front of me), squeeze, and then quickly flail my arms backwards toward my back and once I get a “pop”, I’m okay again for a bit. I’ve yet to get it checked out, but my fiancee is concerned.

Guest over a year ago

Guest over a year ago

hey, as with most people here my sternum cracks too. I fractured it 4 years ago playing football and it has cracked ever since. My girlfriend was a bit concerned, but it didnt bother me. Until the other day it gave an almighty crack. Now there is some discomfort and a pressure on my chest. I’ve just been to the doctor, he didnt seem to concerned. I still am, i want an X ray!

Guest over a year ago

Yea my chest started to crack a few months ago, but for the last weeks is more often and now i ‘ve got a bit of pain, and get to worry me, i think i might go for an X-ray to see what the hack is wrong, I do exercise, etc but never been injured or anything.
i am curious too what can cause it, and how bad can affect us?

Guest over a year ago

Guest over a year ago

blepblepblep13078 over a year ago

Guest over a year ago

Guest over a year ago

Your cartilage around your sternum is possibly inflamed. This can cause pain and the cracking is the cartilage realigning. Best thing to do is take some anti-inflammatory OTC meds.

Posture posture posture. We were all taught to maintain proper posture when young. Be sure to improve your posture and the way you sit. This can agitate your sternum. You will be fine.

How to crack your sternum

A bruised sternum is caused by direct trauma, or impact to the sternum bone in the middle of the chest. In more severe cases, a fracture may occur, or a dislocation of the sternoclavicular joint.

Bruised sternum

A bruised sternum, or sternum contusion as it is also known, occurs after an impact to the sternum or breastbone. This more frequently occurs if you have had a road traffic accident. However, colliding with opponents, hard balls or implements can also result in sternum injuries.

Symptoms of a bruised sternum

You will be aware of a specific point where your injury occured. Bruised sternum symptoms occur suddenly and consist of:

  • Breastbone/sternum pain.
  • Your sternum will feel tender to touch.
  • Coughing and sneezing are also likely to reproduce pain.
  • Bruising may appear later.

Treatment for a bruised sternum

If the pain is severe seek medical attention as soon as possible. Your doctor will perform a full examination and may order X-rays to determine if you have sternum or rib fractures.

Treatment of a bruised sternum requires rest for 2-4 weeks to allow the bone to heal. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication may be advised by the doctor to help ease pain and inflammation.

Sternum fracture

A sternum fracture is a break to the breastbone. A sternal fracture is most often caused by a direct impact to the bone, at the front of the chest.

This is most frequent in road traffic accidents. There will be sharp chest pain at the front of the body and bruising may appear. The injury will need to be assessed and monitored to ensure no further damage is made.

Sternum fracture symptoms

  • Symptoms of a fractured sternum include a sudden onset of pain at the front of the chest after an impact or fall of some kind.
  • Pain is usually well localised and does not radiate.
  • It will be very tender to touch the fracture area and bruising may start to appear after a few hours.
  • Up to 20% of patients may demonstrate breathing difficulties.


Fractured sternums most frequently occur during road traffic accidents. A fractured sternum may also occur during chest compression as performed during CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).

Fractures of the breastbone may also happen with considerably less force and have been seen in golfers and weightlifters previously. Older people with Osteoporosis may also be more at risk.

Whilst a fracture is a common injury which is often straightforward to treat, a sternal fracture should be examined thoroughly and put under observation for other complications.

These may include pulmonary and cardiac contusions (bruising of the lungs or heart) or damage to the aorta (main artery from the heart). If the fractured part of the bone has been displaced, this is more likely to cause further complications.


Treatment of a sternum fracture which has not been displaced generally involves rest and the use of painkillers or anti-inflammatory medications.

If the bone fragment has become displaced, a surgical procedure may be required to re-align the two bone pieces and possibly fix them with pins or screws.

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Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***.

How to crack your sternumIt’s natural to experience aches and pains as we get older, but it becomes an issue when these aches and pains start to affect our daily activities.

The sternum—also referred to as the breastbone and chest bone—is a bone located in the central area of your chest, below your collarbone. People over the age of 50, women and the elderly in particular, have a higher risk of developing sternal pain and fractures.

Sternum pain is typically associated with clicking or cracking sensations in your sternum bone. Although a bruised sternum can be associated with cardiac-related chest pains, it doesn’t mean that it is related to a cardiovascular disease.

Here are some of the main causes of sternum pain:

Causes and Treatments of Sternum Pain

1. Sternum fractures: This happens when there is a fracture to the breastbone, typically a result of physical trauma (i.e. being hit with a large object).

Treatment : Make sure to see your doctor for a physical, as surgery may be necessary if the bones are out of place. Get lots of rest and refrain from conducting heavy labor until the area has healed. Apply ice packs to the fractured area for 20-minute intervals every two or three hours for the first few days until swelling decreases.

2. Sternum inflammation: You will likely feel tenderness or pain when you touch the rib joints and sternum—the pain will likely increase when you breathe and move around.

Treatment : Compress the tender area with ice, which will help reduce the swelling.

3. Heartburn: The burning chest pain occurs more frequently after a person finishes a large meal, especially when a person consumes their food too quickly. Pain can occur when you are attempting to bend over and can transfer to the sternum if not treated immediately.

Treatment : Taking antacids will help neutralize the acid in your stomach and relieve the pain. For a more natural remedy, try mixing one teaspoon of baking soda with a glass of water—since baking soda has a pH higher than seven, it can neutralize stomach acid and soothe the burning sensation.

4. Collarbone trauma: The collarbone can be found at the top of your chest, and this trauma tends to occur at birth or after a fall. The pain can be transferred to the sternum.

Treatment : Visit your doctor immediately after a collarbone trauma for diagnosis and treatment. You will likely have to wear a sling—it wraps around the shoulders and neck area to hold the shoulders up. The sling is typically worn for four to eight weeks.

5. Costochondritis: You will experience tenderness and inflammation where the ribs and cartilage meet. Chest pain and sharp pains under rib cage or the front of your chest will typically get worse whenever you take deep breaths or cough.

Treatment : By simply applying heat or ice to the tender area, you can relieve the inflammation. Avoid heavy labor and contact sports until symptoms improve.

6. Pleurisy: The symptoms are similar to costochondritis—each cough and each breathe will cause pain that is caused by inflammation of the inner walls of the chest.

Treatment : Get lots of rest; and as strange as it may seem, lie down on the side of the chest that is causing you the most pain. It’s worth it to note that treatment solely depends on the root of the cause. For instance, if the pain is caused by pneumonia or a bacterial infection, antibiotics will be recommended by your physician.

7. Sternoclavicular joint injury: Any dislocation to the sternoclavicular joints may eventually cause pain to the sternum.

Treatment : Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor may wrap you in a sling; ice can also be used to soothe the pain. Refrain from any physical activity or contact sports to avoid aggravating your injury.

Remember to set up an appointment with your doctor immediately following any sort of physical trauma.

My chest, near my breast bone, has recently (in the past year) been starting to crack when I stretch out or sometimes just randomly. The first couple times it happened it really hurt. Now it releases stress for me and feels good and I can pretty much do it whenever I want to. Is that normal and or bad for you? Also I crack my knuckles, back and neck frequently throughout the day, are there really any bad effects to this. I’ve heard that its terrible for you and that you shouldn’t do it, but I’ve also heard that it is good for you and causes a release of stress hormones. What is the truth?

    • Add Topic
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    15 Answer s

    I can crack my chest as well, and the only other person I’ve ever known who could do it was my physical therapist. He said it’s perfectly fine, just not common. (He could just touch his chest in a certain way and it would crack… I’m not quite that skilled.) As for your joints, I’ve heard mixed things about that, too.

    PS: Do people around you get weirded out when your chest cracks? My circle of people freak right out when I do it.

    My chest cracks every time I stretch

    It is definitely weird to crack your chest, but it’s fine. speaking as someone who is somewhat grossed out by her mother doing it unexpectedly…cough @augustlan cough
    I also crack my joints quite often…neck, knuckles, ankles, knees, toes…you name it. It hasn’t hurt me much thus far, other than hurting my neck once. You definitely have to be careful with the neck.

    My bf always cracks his knuckles and it annoys the crap out of me. I always tell him to stop because it’ll wear the joints down and cause problems. So, the next time he ran into his med student friend he asked the guy if it is really bad for you to do that or not. The guy said it’s harmless. So much for my argument, although I remain skeptical, probably because none of my joints crack…

    my chest cracks too, normally when i’m slouching…. maybe i should fix that… haha

    My knees sometimes crack when I kneel and stuff. It’s weird. =\

    Cracking your knuckles is fine. It’s just gas bubbles popping in your joints. So go ahead and crack away.

    It’s fine. It’s your sternum that’s cracking and it releases pressure. It’s a good thing.

    As for other joints, that’s fine as well. My chiropractor used to tell me not to intentionally crack my neck but never said anything about any other way of cracking my back/knuckles.

    i can crack a rib back in place because its been broken so many times playing football. 🙂

    I used to be one of those people that stretched without the soundtrack. Now, after a funky judo injury I have joined the cracked-chest society. It’s not a bad thing, I checked it with my doc. But maybe next time you’re at yours, give it a quick mention.

    Yeah it happens to me too. Its completly normal. And as phoebusg said just mention it and he will pobably explain it.

    I can pop every joint in my body, & my ears.

    ^ @Draconess25
    So can I, I can also crack my nose.

    my chest used to ‘pop’ once a year but now i have to do it daily or it feels like someone is sitting on it. it is very painful to ‘pop’ and it hurts all the time now, probably a 7 out of 10 on a pain scale. i can no longer do push ups or even sit ups without excruciating pain. even lifting my arms above my head is extremely painful. i want to go to the dr for it but i can’t afford the insurance my job offers. it is located about 6 inches above the bottom of the sternum, theres a bump there but everyone i’ve talked to has the bump

    The sternum is a flattened bone that is connected to the first seven pairs of ribs. It can get fractured due to traumatic injuries. Those of you who wish to know more on how to treat a fractured sternum, can scroll down to get an idea on sternal fracture treatment.

    How to crack your sternum

    The sternum is a flattened bone that is connected to the first seven pairs of ribs. It can get fractured due to traumatic injuries. Those of you who wish to know more on how to treat a fractured sternum, can scroll down to get an idea on sternal fracture treatment.

    The rib cage, also known as thoracic cage or thoracic basket, is an important part of the human skeletal system. Twelve pairs of ribs, sternum, twelve thoracic vertebrae and costal cartilage together make up the human rib cage. The sternum or breastbone, is a T-shaped bone that is located in the middle portion of the anterior wall of the rib cage. The upper section of this elongated bone supports the collarbones, and its margins are connected to the ends of the first seven pairs of the ribs through costal cartilage.

    The sternum is divided into three segments that are known as manubrium, gladiolus and the xiphoid process. Manubrium is the broad upper section of the sternum that attaches to the first two pairs of ribs, while body of the sternum is the elongated part of the sternum. Xiphoid process, the smallest segment of sternum joins with the seventh pair of ribs. It is located at the inferior end.

    If one receives a blow to the chest or is subjected to any form of blunt chest trauma, the rib cage acts as a protective covering and protects the organs and blood vessels within the chest region from getting damaged. There could, however, be times, when the rib cage may not be able to withstand blunt chest trauma. If the chest is struck with a great force, it could lead to a sternal fracture. Rest coupled with self-care measures will help in healing minor cracks, but severe fractures may need an elaborate treatment. Here’s some information on the causes of a sternal fracture along with ways to heal a fractured sternum.

    What Causes the Sternum to Fracture?

    Most of the time, a bruised, cracked or fractured sternum results from blunt chest trauma. Ribs or sternum injuries could occur while playing contact sports or as a result of physical assault. Motor vehicle accidents wherein the chest forcefully hits against the steering wheel is also one of the most common causes of rib or sternum injuries. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), which is performed to revive a person suffering from a cardiac arrest, can also cause bruised or cracked sternum. One is likely to suffer from pain and discomfort in case of mild injuries that cause a bruised sternum. Under these circumstances, use of painkillers, application of warm compresses and rest will surely help in speeding up the recovery.

    However, surgical intervention may be needed if a severe impact causes a displaced sternal fracture. Surgery might become a necessity if the sternum is pushed further into the chest cavity. For people suffering from conditions such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, slight trauma to the chest can also cause a fracture.

    Treatment of a Fractured Sternum

    Wondering how to treat a fractured sternum? Well, blunt chest trauma is one of the most commons reason behind sternal or rib fractures which is why medical help must be sought by people who suffer from such an injury. If you notice bruising and swelling on chest, and have also been experiencing painful breathing since the injury, let a doctor examine you. Doctors will then determine how to treat sternal fracture once they have ascertained the extent of damage to the sternum. An X-ray examination or imaging procedures such as a CT scan or ultrasound may help in detecting the impact of injury on the rib cage and the organs present within the chest cavity. Lateral radiographs can also help in determining the extent of sternal displacement.

    Since a fractured sternum is most likely to cause pain and inflammation, doctors are most likely to prescribe painkillers, non-inflammatory drugs or steroids. In most cases of sternal fractures, one will be asked to take bed rest for about 3 to 4 weeks. After that, one may perform mild physical activities. All sternal fractures do not require surgery. Small cracks may heal with drug therapy and rest, but a severe fracture will require surgical intervention. In severe cases of displaced fracture, there is a risk of complications associated with the organs located in the chest region. In severe cases, oxygen therapy and cardiac monitoring may also be needed. Once the broken sternum is repaired through surgery, one may take three to four months to recover from a sternal fracture. The recovery will be slow if one doesn’t follow the doctor’s guidelines and indulges in activities that may put strain on the sternum.

    This was some information on ways to treat a fractured sternum. Since blunt chest trauma can cause a fractured sternum, such traumatic injuries must not be ignored. If the imaging procedures indicate a fractured sternum, drug therapy along with self-care measures can help in alleviating the pain and discomfort. In event of a displaced fracture, the patient may have to undergo surgery for repositioning of the sternum. If one follows the doctor’s guidelines properly, one will be able to recover within a few months.

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    General Health

    How to crack your sternum

    How to crack your sternum

    For Dr. Jai Raman , an open heart was love at first sight. Twenty years later, he vividly remembers when he was a surgical resident seeing his first open chest cavity, a beating heart before him. “When I saw it, it was one of those things that was almost immediate,” he says. “It grabs you.”

    Both Raman and the field of cardiology have come a long way since then. Raman, who is a cardiac and thoracic surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center, helped develop “the wrap procedure,” or ventricular containment. This procedure uses a mesh bag to stop the heart from enlarging; it’s mainly used in patients with heart failure. He has performed more than 2500 heart operations and more than 700 thoracic procedures (such as removal of part of a lung). Here, Raman walks us through the basics of a surgical how-to. It should go without saying, but: Don’t try this at home.

    How to crack your sternum

    Anesthetic doses given for heart surgeries are standard for any major surgery–and have a component of analgesia, sedation and paralysis. All cardiac and respiratory parameters are carefully monitored and, once the patient is under, the surgeon gets out the saw.

    The heart rests beneath the sternum–the organ’s skeletal armor and the central bone to which ribs are attached. Cracking this bone requires pressure, power and precision (but only about 30 seconds). The most common type of saw used in heart surgery is an oscillating saw, which moves up and down at a rapid speed and works like a jigsaw, enabling the fine blade to cut curved lines. Sometimes–especially on patients who have had heart procedures done before–surgeons will use a saw that’s like the one used to remove casts. It stops immediately when it senses tissue.

    Surgeons cut the sternum either completely or partially, straight down the middle, but they don’t remove it. They then slowly spread apart the cut halves of the sternum with a retractor, something similar to a brace. This allows the entire chest and heart to be open before them.

    How to crack your sternum

    Becoming a cardiac surgeon means getting over a huge mental block: “You’ve got to get comfortable putting stitches into a beating heart,” Raman says.

    The size and strength of stitches surgeons use to repair someone’s ticker can vary greatly depending on the procedure and part of the heart. When joining blood vessels–as in bypass surgery–doctors use sutures are made of polypropylene, a plastic polymer, and are as thin as a human hair. Doctors use magnifying surgical loupes when sewing this type of suture so they can see their stitching. Though these sutures are fine, they’re built to withstand pressure–suture companies have put them through controlled tests to simulate the pressure required to burst a vessel or disrupt tissue. When repairing or reconstructing heart muscle (like during a valve replacement), a heart surgeon uses thicker sutures.

    Of course, some procedures require cutting, not just stitching tissues together. In a transplant, Raman will use an electrocautery, or diathermy, which cauterizes as it cuts and seals the small blood vessels, to cut through the pericardium, a sac that protects and contains the heart. He then removes the entire heart except for the back of the left atrium. When the heart is removed from the body, the patient is maintained on a heart-lung machine (also called a cardiopulmonary bypass machine), which oxygenates and circulates blood throughout the body, replacing the function of both the heart and the lungs. These machines are used in most cardiac surgical procedures, Raman says. The doctor will then trim the heart to fit snugly in the chest cavity and connect it to the left atrium again, specially tailoring each anastomosis–the joining of two blood vessels.

    The amount of time required for a heart operation can vary wildly. What Raman calls a typical surgery–replacing an aortic valve–takes roughly 2 to 2-1/2 hours. But some that are a little more ambitious, like a heart transplant, require 7 to 8 hours.

    How to crack your sternum

    Once the heart has been repaired, it’s time to put the sternum back together. But what about all those bony fragments? Fortunately, because heart surgeons break more bone than even orthopedic surgeons, repairing the sternum has been the focus of many surgical advances in the past few decades.

    In the past, doctors used wire to repair the sternum, but this was problematic because bony fragments moved and did not remain aligned. Now surgeons use customized plates and screws to hold the breastbone and ribs in place as they heal. These, according to cardiothoracic surgeon Shahab Akhter of the University of Chicago Medical Center, provide better healing and lower risk of infection.

    How to crack your sternum

    Gone are the days when stark black sutures were the mark of a surgery–surgeons now have a variety of options to employ. Akhter uses three layers to close the incisions. “No suture material is visible on or above the skin,” he says. “We use vicryl sutures for the first two layers and monocryl sutures for below the outside layer of the skin.” Both vicryl and monocryl sutures are absorbable and only used on soft tissue. Vicryl suturing typically holds strength for approximately two to three weeks and is fully absorbed within 60 days. Monocryl lasts longer, and is absorbed within 90 days. Open-heart surgery leaves a vertical scar on the skin over the sternum, and these scars are typically 7 to 10 inches long.

    While new sutures, better breastbone plates and less invasive procedures are all marked advancements in the field, doctors aren’t stopping there. “The most important thing to realize is that we are trying our best to minimize the trauma to the chest to allow patients to recuperate from the surgery a lot faster,” Raman says. “[We’re] going away from the notion of having the whole heart exposed and doing a big cut down the middle. All that is being improved–and evolving–as we speak.”

      Thread starter Diablos Start date Sep 10, 2008


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #1

Over the past couple months I have noticed that the middle of my chest (sternum I would imagine) tends to. yeah, crack. And, if I push my shoulders closer together, or twist/move my body in a certain way, it feels kinda sore/some pressure. My shoulders are getting broader, however.

I find this strange, though, but I know it happens to some other people. why the hell does my chest feel like it’s cracking?


  • Sep 10, 2008
  • #2
  • Alien Bob

    taken advantage of my ass
    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #3
  • Diablos

    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #4
  • Rewrite

    Not as deep as he thinks
    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #5
  • FunkyMunkey

    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #6
  • Are you going through puberty by an chance?

    During my teens, most of my body would crack and pop etc. at random times. Especially my shoulders and chest.


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #7
  • fallout

    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #8
  • Diablos has been going through puberty since the Pumpkins broke up.

    Seriously though, yeah, this does happen to me sometimes. Never really thought it was a big deal, though.


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #9
  • Over the past couple months I have noticed that the middle of my chest (sternum I would imagine) tends to. yeah, crack. And, if I push my shoulders closer together, or twist/move my body in a certain way, it feels kinda sore/some pressure. My shoulders are getting broader, however.

    I find this strange, though, but I know it happens to some other people. why the hell does my chest feel like it’s cracking?

    How to crack your sternum

    Do they call you Mr. Glass by any chance?


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #10
  • My body has always been this way. My knuckles and top of fingers, ankles, big toes, elbows, top of leg/hip, knees, neck, back, and now chest all crack.

    Elbows, top of leg/hip, knees and chest are the latest things to start cracking. Everything else has been for a loooong time now. Years.

    I figure I’ll be in arthritis hell sometime during my 30’s :lol


    Has problems recognising girls
    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #11
  • My body does this too, as I crack my sternum sometimes. Whenever I strain myself by turning to my left side to the right I can feel pressure against it.

    I went to the doctors and they said that everything seemed to be ok judging by x-ray, so shrug.


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #12
  • 3phemeral

    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #13
  • Yep. I asked the doctor this, and he says that so long as it doesn’t hurt, I should be fine and it’s normal. But the variance of cracking worries me, as it can go from liquid-like, to crusty, to anything in between. It usually happens when I try tilting my head to crack my neck, and one time I had a friend place his head nearby my chest and it came off sounding like someone just bit into a crispy, juicy apple.

    Hasn’t happened recently, thank goodness.


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #14
  • Well my shoulders are getting broader. I often sleep on my side with my arms compressed. Maybe because of my shoulders I am now putting extra pressure on my sternum that wasn’t being applied before?

    Who knows, I’m just glad this doesn’t seem to be serious. Hopefully the associated soreness/slight pain isn’t either. The more I stretch, the less I notice.


    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #15
  • Well my shoulders are getting broader. I often sleep on my side with my arms compressed. Maybe because of my shoulders I am now putting extra pressure on my sternum that wasn’t being applied before?

    Who knows, I’m just glad this doesn’t seem to be serious. Hopefully the associated soreness/slight pain isn’t either. The more I stretch, the less I notice.

    Brian Fellows

    Pete Carroll Owns Me
    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #16
  • Diablos

    • Sep 10, 2008
  • #17
  • I try, can’t always get comfortable that way.

    Your sternum is the bone that runs down the center of your chest between your pecs. Protected by minimal muscle and being so central, it can easily become inured and is affected by a range of different movements. If you have a painful sternum when you sneeze, or if it cracks, then this may cause you concern and/or discomfort. Fortunately though it is normally nothing, and is usually a result of one of the following issues:


    A hairline fracture or just a bruise on your sternum itself can be the cause of pain in the center of your chest. If you have recently received a blow to this area then this may have either bruised it, caused a hairline fracture or chipped off some of the bone. In this case it may be painful to touch as well. It is recommended you see a doctor to ascertain whether there is a break though usually there will be little they can do for it (they may use a bandage to apply some pressure and support to the area). Make sure to get plenty of rest and to avoid the bench press for a while.

    Muscle Pain

    The muscles surrounding the sternum (the inner pecs) can sometimes be torn or pulled and this can cause pain when you sneeze due to the physical jolt this causes. This may be a result of going a little heavy on the bench press or during a netball pass, and again rest is recommended to give the area time to recover.


    Another good reason to visit a doctor (who will likely refer you to a physiotherapist) is that you may have inflammation in the joint (the costosternal joint where the ribs meet the sternum). When you sneeze or stretch this can cause a sudden pressure change in the area as air escapes and this is what causes the ‘popping’ or ‘cracking’ noise that can occur. This trapped air can also just be a result of the shape of the joint and may not be due to any inflammation.

    By Adam Pick on February 27, 2007

    Ahh yes… The good ole’ sternum cracking question. I’ve received this question a number of times from friends and family following my surgery. As you can read in my story, I had the Ross Operation performed.

    Unfortunately, my cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr. Vaughn Starnes (USC), could not use a minimally invasive procedure considering he needed direct access to my defective aortic valve which was suffering from aortic stenosis and regurgitation. My congenital bicuspid valve had become very calcified during my 34 years of life prior to the surgery.

    In any case, Dr. Starnes needed to perform a median sternotomy to perform the valve replacement. So you know, median sternotomy is a type of surgical procedure in which a vertical incision is made along the sternum, after which the sternum itself is “cracked”. This procedure provides access to the heart and lungs for surgical procedures such as heart transplants, corrective surgery for congenital heart defects including heart valve replacements.

    How to crack your sternum

    FYI, median sternotomy is often mistakenly referred to as open-heart surgery; however, open heart involves incision of the pericardium, and many median sternotomy procedures do not require this.

    That said, back to the cracked sternum pain… “HOW PAINFUL WAS IT?”

    Well, let me just say that it wasn’t fun.

    Similar to the entire heart valve surgery experience, it was like a roller coaster – a number of ups and downs. Sometimes I didn’t notice it. Other times the incision throbbed.

    For example, following my aortic replacement, I was given a prescription of Vicodin as I left USC Medical Center in Los Angeles. Upon departure from the hospital, I was taking eight to twelve Vicodin per day. As you might imagine, I didn’t feel much pain on those days.

    How to crack your sternum

    However, as the Vicodin levels were brought down and the dosage reduced, the pain started to be much more noticeable and quite uncomfortable. As you can read in my book, the pain brought about a number of issues for me which led to a little bit of a dependence on Vicodin.

    Ultimately, I think the heavy use of pain medication and sleeping pills triggered cardiac depression during my recovery. This was a very trying time for me and my family. Had I known a little bit more about the realities of the recovery, I could have avoided these issues. Again, for a patient’s perspective on the heart valve surgery experience, I highly encourage you to read my book. I wrote it for both patients and caregivers.

    The Good News? It’s been 14 months since my surgery… The pain has pretty much subsided. I’m working on my big physical goal right now… to surf after open heart surgery. That said, sternum cracking pain in the incision is simply, an uncomfortable, but temporary part of the valve repair and valve replacement experience. Besides, what is the alternative to a little bit of pain – A dialted heart and eventual death? I’ll take the pain!

    The sternum (breast bone) is the central point of the chest wall where the clavicle (collarbone) and ribs attach. There are joints at the points where these bones meet. Unusual sounds emanating from bones usually arises from the joints rather than the bones itself. Some of the more common joints noises from the sternal joints is popping, clicking or cracking in nature.

    The ribs do not connect directly with the sternum. Instead it connects to costal cartilages which in turn connect to the breastbone. There are three set of joints in this area:

    1. Sternocostal joints where the costal cartilages connect to the sternum.
    2. Costochondral joints where the costal cartilages connect to the ribs.
    3. Sternoclavicular joints where the sternum connects to the clavicle (collarbone).

    Clicking, cracking or a popping sound around the region of the sternum most likely arises from one of the joints. It may also be accompanied by other symptoms such as breastbone pain, tenderness, redness and/or swelling of the chest wall.

    Reasons for Joint Popping Sound

    The exact reason why the joints discussed above may pop, crack or click is unclear. It is believed that these sounds from the joints may be due to either ligaments that stretch and release suddenly (snapping) or due to nitrogen bubbles becoming compressed within the joint spaces. These possible explanations of joint sounds should only be considered in healthy joints. However, there can also be other possible reasons for joint popping, cracking or clicking sounds.

    For example, inflammation of the joint (arthritis), erosion of the joint structures or dislocation (partial or complete) could account for unusual joint sounds. Usually these conditions are accompanied by other symptoms like pain and swelling. The sternocostal, costochondral and sternoclavicular joints do not have the same range of motion as some of the other joints, like the finger joints. However, it can also be strained by actions like breathing deeply, when lifting heavy objects with the arms or stretching the arms widely.

    These sounds may be audible only to the person while at other times the sound can even be heard by others nearby. It is important to determine whether there is actually a popping sound or just a sensation of popping. Sometimes people imagine hearing a sound when the experience a popping sensation.

    Causes of Popping Sternum-Rib Sounds

    There are many possible causes of popping sounds from the sternum and ribs. However, the exact cause of these abnormal joint sounds may not always be known.

    • Trauma to the chest wall, bones (sternum, ribs, clavicle) and/or joints specifically may arise for a number of different reasons. This may include a blow to the chest as may be seen with an assault, fall or car accident injuries where the chest wall is struck by an airbag or steering wheel.
    • Strain is another common cause of abnormal joint sounds. Acute strain can cause joint inflammation and dislocation while chronic strain can cause joint damage and osteoarthritis. With regards to the sternal joints, acute strain can occur with actions requiring the use of the arms in particular like weight lifting.
    • Costochondritis is a condition where the costal cartilages become inflamed. While pain and tenderness is quite pronounced, there is little to no swelling evident on the chest wall. Costochondritis may be caused by repeated minor trauma as well as strain. Major surgery to the chest wall can also cause it.
    • Tietze’s syndrome usually affects ribs slight higher up than costochondritis. The two conditions are very similar but with Tietze’s syndrome there is pain, tenderness and prominent swelling evident on the chest wall. As with costochondritis, Tietze’s syndrome is due to strain and minor trauma that occurs repeatedly. Persistent coughing and vomiting can cause it.
    • Dislocation occurs when the ends of the bones in the joint spaces slips out of the position where it articulates. This may be either partial or complete. Sometimes the popping occurs when the bone slips back into place. Dislocation is usually associated with trauma but certain diseases can increase the likelihood of the bone slipping even with slight trauma.
    • Arthritis is the term for joint inflammation. Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joint structures and causes inflammation. Osteoarthritis is where there is degeneration of the joint structures and sometimes the ends of the bones as well. This could affect the small joints between the sternum and ribs.

    How to crack your sternum

    Sometimes the sensation of popping of the sternum and ribs does not arise from these structures. It may be due to other chest wall structures like muscles. Spasm of the chest wall muscles can limit movement in the sternum-rib joints which may feel like the joint is under strain. Similarly chest wall injury even without any involvement of the joints may result in reduced movement and pain upon movement. This is sometimes mistaken for a problem with the sternum-rib joints.

    Remedies for a Popping Sternum

    A popping sternum should always be investigated by a medical professional and the prescribed treatment should be followed. However, a few simple lifestyle changes may help with minimizing the popping and associated pain.

    • Avoid carrying heavy weights until the problem subsides. Strenuous physical activity like push-ups and bench pressing (weight lifting) can cause and worsen a popping sternum and should be discontinued at least for a period of time.
    • Hot and cold therapy can be helpful. Cold therapy like applying an ice pack should be used for about 2 days after acute injury or strain. Heat is useful if the pain persists for 2 days after the injury and this can be done by placing a hot water bottle on the chest.
    • Topical applications like muscle rubs can help with muscle strain and inflammation. The rubbing action or massaging can also help with easing pain particularly where muscle spasm is the problem.
    • Stretching exercises may help ease and prevent muscle spasm especially when the hands and chest muscles are overworked. It should always be done before exercise routines involving activities such as push-ups and bench presses.
    • Do sleep on the tummy for long periods as this can hamper normal movement of the chest wall during breathing and worsen any injury to the chest wall.

    The symptoms of sternum cancer are varied since it may involve different areas of the body, but fatigue, pain around the chest region, bruising, and a general feeling of malaise are common. Sternum cancer can include malignancies found in the bones of the sternum itself, the breasts, or the lungs. In some cases cancer will begin in one area and then spread to another within the same region. The lymph nodes closet to the breast or lungs, as well as the liver, may also be affected.

    Sternum cancer includes one of several cancers affecting an organ or tissue in the same general region of the body. The sternum generally includes the chest area and the breast bone underneath. Several vital organ systems are found there, including the lungs and liver.

    Since so many varied diseases can affect the area, sternum cancer may not have any specific symptoms in and of itself. Most women notice a lump in the breast or armpit as a first sign of breast cancer, while lung cancer may present itself as frequent coughing and shortness of breath. Bone cancer generally causes extreme fatigue, bruising, and lethargy. Liver cancers are often asymptomatic, but they may cause jaundice and digestive problems.

    All forms of cancer may lead to lethargy and fatigue, as well as malaise. Additional symptoms also occur when treatment of any of the sternum cancer forms begins. Common treatment options may include chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation therapy. Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and extreme pain may occur with treatment of virtually any cancer.

    A general rule of thumb for patients to follow is to report any symptoms which are unusual for their bodies. Each person is unique, so the signs of sternum cancer may be different for everyone. Many patients have no symptoms at all in the early stages of disease. For this reason, yearly tests like mammogram should be relied on for earlier detection. The soon any cancer is found, the more likely it can be treated successfully.

    One form of sternum cancer may spread and lead to additional secondary cancers. Due to their close proximity in the body, breast, bone, and liver cancers are heavily linked because they often spread from one area to the other. Lung cancer is common, although most cases are a direct result of cigarette smoking or similar activities. When taking this into consideration, sternum cancers are among the most prevalent.

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    Discussion Comments

    Go back to your gp and ask for a CT scan. I have same symptoms and have been diagnosed with sternum cancer. Treatment has not started yet, as they say that there must be a primary cancer elsewhere and I am having biopsy to determine where the cancer has spread from. ceedee3699 yesterday

    I just had knee surgery on March 19th and then two days later, I started experiencing pain and pressure in my sternum. I went back to my doctor and she said to use my cane instead of my crutches in case the crutches were causing the problem.

    Well, it didn’t help when using the cane, so I went to my general practitioner and they did blood work, and ordered an ultrasound because they thought it was my gallbladder, but the ultrasound was normal. Then just two days ago I started having severe, non-stop pain in my right breast. I always have fatigue because I’ve had systemic lupus for 37 years. I’m somewhat concerned because both of my parents died of cancer. I don’t know what to do next because I don’t feel like I’m getting any answers. Any and all advice would be appreciated. Thanks very much. anon296469 yesterday

    I have been experiencing aching pain to the right of my sternum for the past four months. The first time it woke me out of my sleep. The next few were during the day, I had random pains and they would come and go. Since yesterday the pain and discomfort has been constant. It feels like there is a lump/bump there and like it is pushing on my breastbone/sternum.

    @Oekc05: Did you ever find out what it was? seag47 21 hours ago

    An otherwise healthy lady at 84, my grandmother developed bone tumors on her sternum. As the tumors grew, the abnormal tissue replaced the healthy tissue.

    She would wake up at night with pain in her sternum. She said the pain was dull and more of an ache than a stab.

    As time went on, the pain became more severe. She would wake up at night sweating with a fever. My grandfather finally convinced her to go to the doctor. After she discovered that she had bone tumors, she found that the pain was right in the area of the tumors. shell4life yesterday

    At only thirty years old, my aunt developed extreme nausea and loss of appetite. It never crossed her mind that she might have breast cancer.

    The first doctor that she went to chalked it up to stress and put her on some antidepressants. Her symptoms did not go away at all.

    Her second opinion told her to have a mammogram. She did, and it revealed breast cancer that had already spread to other parts of the sternum.

    She had been feeling fatigued for almost a year, but she thought it must be because she stayed so busy. The nausea didn’t develop until the month before she discovered her breast cancer. orangey03 July 10, 2011

    My great uncle smoked for thirty years before developing cancer. The doctors first noticed it in his bones, but they told him that true bone cancer is rare.

    Usually, when cancer is found in the bones, it has spread there from some other part of the body. Sure enough, his had spread from his lungs.

    He had been arm wrestling his nephew when a bone in his arm suddenly snapped. He had to be hospitalized for a long time, because he could have broken his bones very easily. Sadly, he didn’t make it. The lung cancer took him over and made him struggle for every breath in his last days. OeKc05 July 9, 2011

    For about two years, I have been having pain across my sternum. I can feel lumps that are very tender, but they are a good distance above the breasts.

    I have no idea what these are, but I go in once a year for a checkup, and my doctor has never seen any red flags in my blood. Honestly, I forget to mention this chest tenderness while I’m there, because I only notice it when I touch the area.

    It does concern me a bit, but I think that the yearly tests I have would show if it were anything cancerous. I have complained before to my doctor about fatigue, but she didn’t seem to think it was cause for concern. She tested my thyroid levels and they were fine, so I don’t know what’s going on, if anything.

    How to crack your sternumEarlier we shared some tips on How to Live a Heart Healthy Lifestyle and reduce your risks of developing heart disease. Unfortunately, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. The high prevalence of heart disease in the US has made heart surgery one of the most common procedures performed in the US.

    We interviewed Dr. Michael Rose to learn more about the specialized procedure he offers to patients suffering from sternal nonunion and instability. This complication occurs in about two to three percent of patients who undergo heart surgery and often goes undiagnosed, leaving many patients feeling hopeless.

    What causes sternal nonunion and instability?

    During heart surgery, the sternum is split to provide access to the heart. The sternum is wired back together after the surgery to facilitate proper healing. During the healing phase, the wired sternum is vulnerable to the expansion of breathing muscles, which may loosen the wires over time. Too much activity, violent sneezing or coughing before the sternum is completely healed can result in incomplete healing of the two sides of the bone.

    If after heart surgery you experience…

    • Pain, clicking, popping or grinding in your breastbone
    • Unstable feeling in the chest
    • The feeling that each side of your rib cage moves separately when breathing

    …Then you may have sternal nonunion and instability.

    What can be done to treat sternal nonunion and instability?

    Chest wall stabilization has been proven to be an effective treatment for this condition. This procedure uses titanium metal plates to bridge the fractured bone and give it the much-needed stability it lacks. Chest wall stabilization has low recurrence and complication rates. In a review of treatments for sternal nonunion and instability in the Annals of Plastic Surgery published in January 2005, all subjects who underwent the above mentioned procedure experienced a successful outcome. The pain was completely resolved in all patients, wounds healed to completion and there was no incidence of subsequent infection.

    About the Author: Dr. Michael Rose

    How to crack your sternum

    Dr. Michael Rose, MD, FACS has been performing Chest Wall Stabilization for over a decade. Nearly 100 percent of his patients have experienced healing of chest wall instability. Double board certified in plastic surgery and general surgery, Dr. Rose specializes in range of procedures, including breast augmentation, tummy tucks, facelifts and liposuction.

    Rib Cage Overview

    How to crack your sternum

    The 24 rib bones that surround your chest have two important jobs. First, they shield the organs in your upper body, like your heart and lungs, from harm. Second, they connect to muscles and ligaments that move when you inhale or exhale and help you breathe.

    Your ribs are flexible, and they curve. That makes them hard to crack or break. But sometimes, they do.

    How Do You Break a Rib?

    The most common way you can break a rib is direct impact. That is with a hard hit to the chest or rib cage.

    This can happen if you:

    • Have a bad fall
    • Get injured while playing sports
    • Are in a car accident
    • Are a victim of abuse

    A rib can also break if you keep doing the same action over and over, like swinging a golf club. Repeated, hard coughing can also break a rib.

    You’re more likely to break a rib if you have a health problem, like osteoporosis, which weakens your bones. Older people are also more likely to break a rib since bones thin naturally with age.

    How Can You Tell If You Have a Broken Rib?

    If your rib is broken, you may notice:

    • A cracking sound or feeling inside your chest
    • Intense chest pain, especially when you take a deep breath
    • Swelling
    • Soreness
    • Bruising

    How Do Doctors Know Your Rib Is Broken?

    If your doctor suspects that you have a broken rib, she’ll do a physical exam and ask how you hurt yourself. She may also want you to have an imaging test. An X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or bone scan can give more details about what’s going on inside your chest.

    Can a Broken Rib Be Serious?

    A cracked rib isn’t as likely to cause problems as a rib that’s broken in two. A jagged part of a broken rib can harm some of your blood vessels and organs and cause:

    • Trauma to your heart or blood vessels: If you break one of your top three ribs, a sharp edge could puncture your aorta (your body’s main artery).
    • Collapsed lung: A broken rib may tear your lung or chest wall, which can cause your lung to collapse. Signs that this has happened include trouble breathing, coughing up blood, and severe chest pain.
    • Flail chest: If two or more of your ribs break into two or more pieces, you have a serious condition called “flail chest.” Your chest muscle and rib cage can start to move away from each other, rather than remain in sync, when you breathe.

    Although rare, broken lower ribs can also cause damage to your liver, spleen, or kidneys.

    What’s the Treatment for Broken Ribs?

    Many times, a rib cracks (fractures) but doesn’t break in two. Either way, your doctor can’t put a cast on it like you would get for a broken arm or leg. Instead, you’ll likely need to let your rib heal on its own. This often takes about 3 to 6 weeks. In the meantime, your doctor will try to manage your pain and make sure that no other problems arise.

    Your treatment will likely include:

    • Over-the-counterpain relievers like NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs)
    • Prescription pain medicine
    • Rest
    • Ice packs to reduce the swelling

    If you have flail chest, your doctor may want to do surgery. Fixing your ribs can help you breathe more easily and prevent a severe lung infection like pneumonia.

    To help your broken rib heal, your doctor may also suggest that you:

    • Sleep upright for the first few nights
    • Move around throughout the day to keep your lungs healthy
    • Don’t lift heavy objects or do any activity that makes your pain worse
    • Take 10 slow, deep breaths every hour
    • Don’t avoid coughing
    • Hold a pillow against your chest to reduce the pain when you need to cough
    • Quit smoking — it may help your rib heal faster

    When to Call the Doctor

    If you’ve had an impact to your chest and now have symptoms of a broken rib, it’s a good idea to see a doctor.

    If the doctor says it’s broken, let her know if:

    • Your pain doesn’t go away within a few weeks
    • You cough up green or yellow mucus
    • You start to run a fever

    Get help right away if:

    • You feel pressure or squeezing in your chest that lasts more than a few minutes
    • Chest pain extends to one or both shoulders or arms

    These may seem like symptoms of broken ribs, but they are signs of a heart attack.

    (c)2019 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

    NHS: “Broken or Bruised Ribs.”

    Mayo Clinic: “Broken Ribs,” “Flail Chest: An Adult Case Study.”

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    So just recently I’ve noticed my sternum will pop or crack occasionally if I turn my chest a bit, or move my shoulders down and inward. It’s just like cracking your knuckles or back, feels and sounds the same.

    I’ve never really heard of this before and I kinda figured the rib cage was a good ol’ solid piece, but perhaps I am wrong?

    It does not hurt or anything, and actually feels kind of pleasant when I do pop it, which is a couple of times a day, especially if I sit still for extended amounts of time but I notice it, and am just curious.

    Anything to be worried about? Anyone else seen this happen before?


    I can do this as well. The first time it happened, I thought I was dying(exaggeration), but it did hurt like a bitch.

    Now it just happens every once in a while, no biggie.

    Only thing is, sometimes it will feel like it needs cracked, and I’ll try to crack it, and nothing happens. Then it sore/painful until I can finally get it to pop.

    So just recently I’ve noticed my sternum will pop or crack occasionally if I turn my chest a bit, or move my shoulders down and inward. It’s just like cracking your knuckles or back, feels and sounds the same.

    I’ve never really heard of this before and I kinda figured the rib cage was a good ol’ solid piece, but perhaps I am wrong?

    It does not hurt or anything, and actually feels kind of pleasant when I do pop it, which is a couple of times a day, especially if I sit still for extended amounts of time but I notice it, and am just curious.

    Anything to be worried about? Anyone else seen this happen before?

    So just recently I’ve noticed my sternum will pop or crack occasionally if I turn my chest a bit, or move my shoulders down and inward. It’s just like cracking your knuckles or back, feels and sounds the same.

    I’ve never really heard of this before and I kinda figured the rib cage was a good ol’ solid piece, but perhaps I am wrong?

    It does not hurt or anything, and actually feels kind of pleasant when I do pop it, which is a couple of times a day, especially if I sit still for extended amounts of time but I notice it, and am just curious.

    Anything to be worried about? Anyone else seen this happen before?

    I don’t think my posture is bad while standing/walking. but I’m on a PC like. 90% of the day, and it’s really good during that time, depending on what I’m doing.
    I tend to hunch toward the PC while gaming, I find it enhances my reaction.

    But while at work, I’m usually leaned back in a high-back chair, so its pretty straight for most of the day.

    How to crack your sternum

    Bodybuilding is a very tough activity but it keeps a person fresh and healthy. The craze of shaping up your body and look good has compelled many people to start bodybuilding especially the teenagers. It not only gives you strength but also makes prominent in front of the others. However, keeping your body in sound tone and shape is very important but it is not an easy task as it might appear to some. In order to keep your body in proportion, you will be required to do all exercises as a single exercise is not going to help much.


      font-size: 13px !important;color: #474747;text-align: justify;line-height: 21px;” >

    Do all exercises

    It is very important that you should make a schedule of your exercises and do that on daily basis. You should complete the exercises of your chests, shoulders, arms, wings, abs and thighs in the week. For this, consider making a schedule and perform all the exercises of a particular thing in one day. Similarly, you should do the exercise of other feature on day two and so on.

    Start with push ups

    In order to pump up your chest bone, it is of considerable importance that you start your exercise with push ups. Just remember that a single set of any exercise is not going to help; therefore, you should perform at least three sets of push ups. In the beginning, do as much wraps you can but start increasing the number of wraps in each set as soon as you start building strength. It is strongly advised that you should not stick to the same number of wraps for a long time as this will halt your improvement process. The more wraps you do in a set, better will be your chances of gaining more strength.

    Perform other exercises

    Remember, the push ups are more of a warm up. Therefore, you should be prepared to do other exercises that are crucial. The most important exercises are bench press, inclined and butterfly exercise. Remember that if you perform these exercises in an appropriate manner, these would be more than enough to pump up your chest bone. For this, you must do at least three sets of each and try to lift up appropriate weight makes the maximum impact. You must increase the weight if you are getting comfortable with the old one. Do not forget to increase the weight after a few days.

    By: Kathryn Vera

    Published: 05 December, 2018

    How to crack your sternum

    The sternum is a long, flat bone that attaches to the ribcage, and provides protection to a number of important internal organs — including the heart and lungs. While the sternum is a relatively sturdy bone, it is at risk for the development of certain acute health conditions. In fact, the American College of Sports Medicine reports that costochondritis, or the inflammation of the cartilage that attaches the sternum to the ribcage, is a fairly common condition that may cause sternal pain while stretching. Consider the use of hot or cold therapy, rest and recuperation and anti-inflammatory medications for optimal results when it comes to easing sternal pain while stretching.

    Hot/Cold Therapy

    Hot or cold therapy may provide some relief for individuals who are suffering from sternum pain associated with costochondritis, reports MD Health. According to ACSM, cold therapy reduces sternal pain by restricting blood flow to capillaries and decreasing the frequency of nerve conduction. Similarly, the application of heat results in increases in blood, oxygen and nutrient flow to the sternum and surrounding muscles, and can speed recovery to damaged skeletal or muscular tissue. For best results in the use of cold therapy, apply an ice pack to the sternal area for 20 to 30 minutes, two to three times per day. Use heat pads sparingly — such as once per day for 20 to 30 minutes — to avoid disruptions in circulation.

    Rest and Recuperation

    Rest and recuperation can also be effective for those who suffer from sternal pain while stretching, according to MD Health — not only in cases of costochondritis, but also when surgery or joint damage is to blame. Individuals who have been diagnosed with one of these conditions will likely be encouraged to avoid activity that places strain on the sternum until recovery is complete. In fact, swimming, competitive team sports, and racquet sports such as tennis, squash, and racquetball are all prohibited for individuals who experience sternal pain as the result of costochondritis, surgery or joint damage. In addition, avoiding stretches that place significant stress on the sternum, including the standing chest stretch, is also important when it comes to preventing ongoing pain.

    Anti-Inflammatory Medications

    Individuals who experience sternal pain while stretching may be encouraged to use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen. According to the University of Bristol, ibuprofen is effective when it comes to reducing inflammation and may ease sternal pain during stretching. Take no more than 2400 mg of ibuprofen for optimal results when it comes to the easing musculoskeletal pain, recommends ACSM. Individuals who smoke, have a family history of heart disease or have risk factors for the development of heart disease should consult with their healthcare provider before considering the use of this medication.

    Seek Medical Assistance

    Individuals who experience severe sternal pain while stretching should seek attention from a trained healthcare provider. Be honest with all medical staff to ensure complete and timely care for sternal pain that occurs while stretching. In some cases, this may be an indicator of a more serious condition, such as a sternal fracture or cardiac event.

    Related Articles

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    • How to Treat Bursitis in the Elbow
    • How to Sleep With a Pinched Nerve
    • Stretching Under the Shoulder Blades
    • What Is Left Foraminal Stenosis?
    • The Best Ab Exercises for a Bad Neck

    The sternum, also called the breastbone, is a bone that connects the ribs in front of the heart. Broken sternums are painful and slow to heal, with bed rest and anti-inflammatory medication being the most effective treatment. In cases of severe fracture, surgery may be required along with a monitoring of the heart through electrocardiograms. If the sternal fracture interferes with breathing, mechanical ventilation through intubation may also be required to reduce pressure from the lungs on the sternum. Most commonly, simple steps may lead to a successful recovery with time.

    Make a doctor’s appointment immediately if a sternal fracture is suspected.

    Have X-rays of the front and side of chest and other tests, such as electrocardiograms, taken following the doctor’s assessment.

    Take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the pressure on the broken area of chest along with pain-relieving medication to reduce the stress caused by the pain associated with the fracture.

    Stay immobilized for a minimum of two weeks, administering pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication as needed or prescribed by the doctor.

    Supplement the healing of sternal fracture with comfrey poultices applied to the sternum area daily while on bed rest. Comfrey herb is easily absorbed through the skin and promotes the growth of connective tissue, bone and cartilage because of its high allantoin content.

    Monitor improvements and keep sternum area immobilized until at least 75 percent of healing process has occurred.

    Take any additional treatments advised by your physician for more-severe sternal fractures. Bed rest and medications will also be a part of the healing process of a broken sternum if surgery or intubation are required.

    Most sternal fractures do not require surgery, but a medical assessment is imperative because of additional complications that may accompany this condition.

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    • Sternum Pain

    Sternum pain is usually caused by an injury to the chest area, but don’t regard sternum pain as chest pains. This condition can also be a sign of a disease or cardiac trouble that will require medical attention.

    Sternum pain can easily be mistaken for chest pains, which can be cause for alarm. However, sternum pain will radiate from your chest bone, rather than the circulatory system. Sternum pain can manifest itself as a sharp pain near the breastbone, but may commonly be more severe on the upper left side. Applying pressure to the chest or stretch the upper body may make the pain worse. Different conditions can also cause pain in different areas of the sternum. You may also notice cracking or clicking sounds when the pain appears.

    Causes of Sternum Pain

    Heartburn can cause the lower sternum to suffer from radiating pain. This is more common when you become pregnant. Heartburn can become a radiating, shooting pain throughout the chest, which can easily be mistaken for a heart attack. If the pain is limited to the chest area and does not spread to the back, arms or begin to take on a squeezing or pressure sensation, then there is likely no cause for alarm.

    Costochondritis is one of the most common causes of sternum pain. Costochondritis is caused by a minor injury to the sternum or the rib cage. Overstressing the muscles or ligaments in the chest can lead to this condition, or you may have bruised the area, causing discomfort. If you press the area where your ribs meet your sternum and it feels sore or there is a specific area that is tender then you are likely suffering from costochondritis. If the pain is severe or you were in an accident you may be suffering from a sternum fracture or a rib injury.

    Surgery. People who have been through surgery near the chest may experience sternum pain after their procedure. If the healing process does not go smoothly, this pain can linger for several years after the initial procedure. This pain may become less pronounced over time, though certain conditions such as changes in weather or stressful activity can cause it to return.

    Joint damage. Persistent pain near the sternum area or other joints in the chest can be caused by joint damage. If pain is also persistent in the shoulders, collar bone or ribs then you may be dealing with a condition such as arthritis that is causing damage to your joints. Performing activities such as heavy lifting may make this pain worse. Damage to the pectoral muscles can also cause the area around the sternum which may be extenuated during heavy breathing.

    Inflammation in the chest area can cause pain near the sternum. Tietze syndrome, or inflammation in the rib cage, can cause a sharp pain in the chest which can become more severe with movement or breathing. Excessive physical exercise can also cause the chest to become inflamed, causing sternum pain. In more severe cases inflammation may be caused by pleurisy, an infection that may lead to serious conditions like tuberculosis, pneumonia, or lung and bone cancers.

    Panic attack. Those who suffer from anxiety may suffer from sternum pain on the onset of a panic attack. This pain can feel very similar to a heart attack, but will be brought on by stress or apprehension. It is important to be aware of any triggers that might lead to an anxiety attack as well as how to differentiate these symptoms from those of a cardiac disorder so you can determine whether or not you need help.

    How to Treat Sternum Pain

    For digestive issues. If your discomfort is caused by a digestive issue then you will need to take medication to help relieve your discomfort. Medications for heartburn or acid reflux disease are available over the counter. Be sure to read the instructions before taking a dose to make sure that the medication will not conflict with any other conditions you may have.

    For anxiety attack. When suffering from an anxiety attack, you will need to do what you can to calm yourself. People are typically advised to focus on slowing their breathing pattern to help bring their heart rate back to a normal point. Breathing into a paper bag may be help you focus on your breathing to determine if you are still in a manic state.

    For inflammation and costochondritis. Taking an anti-inflammatory can help reduce swelling in the chest that may be putting pressure on the sternum. Icing the chest can also help bring down swelling that can cause chest pain. Those suffering from costochondritis may also find relief from applying a warm compress to the area that will allow the tissue o relax. Be careful not to overdo your treatment as this can disrupt your circulation. If your chest is inflamed due to injury and it is causing pain near your sternum, get plenty of rest and avoid strenuous activities until your symptoms relax.

    For sternum fracture. If you are experiencing fainting, fever, breathing problems, vomiting up blood, abdominal, back or chest pain, or reduced palpitations in addition to your sternum pain then you may be suffering from a sternum fracture. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible to avoid your injury becoming worse or causing damage to the tissue around the ribcage. Your doctor may perform an MRI, CT-scan or X-ray to determine whether you are suffering from a fracture. X-rays can also help diagnose inflammation caused by conditions such as pneumonia.

    For cardiac events. If at any time you feel as though you are suffering from a cardiac event it is imperative that you seek medical attention immediately. Contact emergency medical services and get advice regarding anything you should do before they can arrive to help. You may be asked to take an aspirin to help slow the effects of a heart attack until you can get the help you need.

    How to crack your sternum

    This bone may be affected by various deformities, and one of those deformities is medically known as pectus carinatum, or more commonly called a protruding sternum. A protruding sternum represents a deformity which features with obvious protrusion of the sternum and the cartilage portion of the ribs.

    What Causes a Protruding Sternum?

    The deformity predominantly affects children, and in many cases the actual cause of the protruding sternum remains unknown. However, a protruding sternum may run in families; the condition has a tendency to be inherited. Statistics show that a protruding sternum affects more boys than girls, and that it is in majority of patients first diagnosed after the age of 11. There may be a mild deformity which usually becomes worse as the child grows. A protruding sternum may be associated with some other deformities such as scoliosis, in which the spine has an abnormal curvature.

    Some people believe that a protruding sternum develops as a consequence of overgrowth of the rib cartilages. Furthermore, a protruding sternum may be a sign of some other medical conditions, such as costochondritis, Marfan syndrome, Sly syndrome, homocystinuria, Trisomy 18 or 21 etc.

    Symptoms of a Protruding Sternum

    Patients suffering from a protruding sternum may not complain about any symptom or develop any sign apart from the obvious chest deformity. However, a severe sternum deformity is generally associated with additional health problems and patients in whom a protruding sternum develops as a part of another medical condition develop symptoms and signs of the underlying condition. What is more, a severe deformity of the sternum may significantly interfere with respiration (breathing) and apart from breathing issues cause low stamina and difficulty while performing strenuous physical activities.

    Treatment for a Protruding Sternum

    Most cases of a protruding sternum can be successfully treated with braces worn by the patient over prolonged periods of time. This way, more aggressive and invasive treatment (surgery) can be avoided. A brace for a protruding sternum is always custom made based on a patient’s measurements and the shape of the protrusion. It is constructed by a specialist. Patients need periodic adjustments to their braces as they grow. A brace is worn during the day and at night. The major effect of such treatment is a gradual remodeling of the chest wall. It may take a year or a bit more to achieve desirable results, and the process is painless.

    Unfortunately, in case braces do not provide suitable results and the deformity remains, people with a protruding sternum may need to undergo a surgical correction of the sternum deformity. Surgery includes removing the rib cartilages. This type of surgery is known under the name Ravitch procedure. It is also performed in case of a sunken sternum (another sternum deformity). The procedure is always done under general anesthesia and patients remain hospitalized for approximately a week, before recovering and finding relief from symptoms they may have had as a result of the deformity.

    Bruised sternum is usually caused by a blow on the chest while playing, or due to an accident, particularly a car driver. Before discussing bruised sternum, let us know what sternum is, and what its importance is in human body. Sternum is an elongated flat bone that you feel in the middle of chest. Sternum is also called breast bone. The average length of sternum is 17 cm. The upper end of the sternum supports the clavicle (Collar bone). The cartilage of first seven ribs is attached to the margins of sternum.

    What Is Sternum Or Breast Bone?

    Sternum bone is made of three parts; the top portion is called manubrium, the first two ribs are connected to this part. Then comes the central part or the body of the sternum, the third rib to seventh rib is attached to the body of sternum. The end part of the sternum is called xiphoid process. It is the smallest of all the three parts of sternum. It is thin and elongated; the xiphiod process is cartilaginous in youth after some years it becomes rigid bony structure.

    Along with ribs, the sternum forms a bony cage which protects vital organs of the chest such as heart, lungs, and major blood vessels. The breast bone becomes a shield in front part of the chest. A severe blow to the sternum can cause fracture or bruised sternum.

    Bruised sternum is a common injury among drivers who do not wear seat belts while driving. It is also common with people playing certain sports such as foot ball, cricket where the chest can get hurt with blunt force, or in people who are not wearing protective chest shield.

    Symptoms Of Bruised Breast Bone

    Depending on the severity of the injury, sternum pain can be mild to severe. You can bruise your sternum with violent and forceful coughing. Bruised sternum is common in cigarette smokers. Even a simple fall can cause bruising if a blunt object collides with chest.

    After knowing the causes of bruised sternum, it is important to know what are the signs and symptoms that a person experiences when he is hit by an external force or a blow on his chest, that results in bruised sternum.

    • Tenderness and pain on the breast bone.
    • Pain while laughing, coughing.
    • Moving his hands up and down.
    • Swelling.
    • Pain in the breast bone while getting up from the bed.
    • Pain in the middle of the chest while deep breathing.
    • It takes 3 to 4 weeks for a bruised sternum to heal.

    In order to get relief from pain, many people take short breaths which may not be good for their general health.

    How To Treat A Bruised Sternum?

    Pain in the chest immediately after an injury can be indicative of bruised sternum; it is necessary to consult your doctor to get accurate diagnosis.

    • Before starting the treatment your doctor may advice you for an X-ray chest to ascertain the damage to the sternum and the rib cage.
    • After proper examination and evaluation, he may advice the person to take rest and prescribe anti inflammatory and painkiller medication.
    • Ice fomentation on the breastbone and hot water fomentation later on is effective home remedy in relieving pain.
    • Breast bone injury generally takes longer time to heal. The time taken to heal is between 4 to 6 weeks. Till that time the person should avoid physical strenuous work.

    In this way, how do they close the rib cage after open heart surgery?

    When surgery is complete, the ribs are brought back together and the two halves of the RSC are realigned. A ratchet is used to close the space tightly, which promotes healing and prevents bleeding. “Cardiothoracic surgery is one of the only surgical specialties still using wires to close bones.

    Also Know, why do they leave the chest open after open heart surgery? In the early days of cardiac surgery, primary closure of the sternum at the end of the operation was mandatory because of the concern of mediastinal infection. Leaving the chest cavity open would have provided optimal relief of cardiac compression, but this was avoided due to the problems regarding mediastinitis.

    Simply so, does the breast bone grow back together after open heart surgery?

    Surgeon ‘glues’ the breastbone together after openheart surgery. “We can now heal the breastbone in hours instead of weeks after openheart surgery. Patients can make a full recovery after surgery and get back to full physical activities in days instead of months,” reports Dr. Paul W.M.

    What happens to sternal wires after heart surgery?

    In most cases of dehiscence, the sternal wires malfunction, leading to separation of sternal fragments. Lack of proper alignment of the sternum impairs bone healing, and the loose fragments of bone and wire pose a danger of puncturing the heart, making sternal dehiscence a surgical emergency.

    How to crack your sternum

    A fleeting burst of pain slams your chest, and a terrifying two-word combination — HEART ATTACK — immediately enters your thoughts.

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    Take a deep breath. Oftentimes, the situation isn’t what you fear.

    Some chest pain symptoms, while scary and alarming, are unlikely to signal a heart attack. Let’s walk through some of those indicators and what they might mean with cardiologist Curtis Rimmerman, MD.

    An important note, though: Never assume chest pain is nothing to worry about. Given the game-ending potential of a heart attack, any chest pain deserves attention. Don’t wave it off.

    “When in doubt, err on the side of caution and visit a doctor or emergency room,” notes Dr. Rimmerman.

    How to tell if chest pain is serious

    Some types of chest pain should send you to the emergency room — particularly if it lasts for at least five minutes.

    Symptoms could include new or unexplained chest pain coupled with shortness of breath, a cold sweat, nausea, fatigue or lightheadedness. Aside from your chest, the pain, pressure or discomfort also may radiate to your:

    • Arms.
    • Back.
    • Jaw.
    • Neck.
    • Upper stomach.

    Lasting and unrelenting pain in these areas may signal a heart attack, or myocardial infarction, says Dr. Rimmerman. Call 911 to seek immediate treatment to save heart muscle.

    Symptoms that suggest another problem

    More often than not, chest pain does not signal a heart attack. A study of emergency room visits found that less than 6% of patients arriving with chest pain had a life-threatening heart issue.

    Here are some examples of chest pain that usually doesn’t result in a heart attack diagnosis.

    Momentary chest discomfort

    You’re sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee when chest pain strikes like a lightning bolt. It’s sudden, swift and stabbing. The feeling — which many compare to getting an electrical shock — lasts only an attention-grabbing moment.

    The good news? The brief zap is usually not indicative of a heart attack, which often brings an unrelenting pain that lasts several minutes.

    Momentary chest discomfort is more likely to result from:

    • An injury such as broken or bruised ribs.
    • A pulled muscle in your chest wall.
    • Inflammation in your rib cartilage.
    • Fibromyalgia.
    • Shingles.

    Pinpoint chest discomfort

    With every deep breath or cough, pain pierces your chest. Moving around and changing positions only seems to make it worse, too.

    If this describes your symptoms, odds are that you’re dealing with a lung-related issue. This is even more likely if the pain is focused on the right side of your chest, away from your heart. Possible causes include:

    • Pneumonia or some other infection.
    • Inflammation in the lining of your lungs (pleurisy).
    • A blood clot in your lungs.
    • An asthma attack.

    And while these lung issues are not a heart attack, they are concerning enough to warrant a call to your healthcare provider.

    Discomfort that lessens with exercise

    If a sharp pain strikes your chest but improves as you move around a bit… well, you may be looking at a case of heartburn (acid reflux) or some other gastrointestinal issue.

    An estimated 15 million Americans a day experience heartburn, which brings an uncomfortable burning feeling in your chest and a sour feeling in your throat. An over-the-counter antacid can help bring some relief.

    Another reason your chest may hurt

    That pain in your chest could be linked to another kind of attack that has nothing to do with your heart.

    A panic attack or anxiety can reveal itself with symptoms — chest tightness, sweating, shortness of breath — that mimic those of a heart attack. There are some key differences between a panic attack and a heart attack, though.

    • Many heart attacks follow physical strain or exertion, an indicator not typically connected to panic attacks.
    • Panic attacks often feature a stabbing pain as opposed to the elephant-on-your-chest squeezing feeling that often accompanies a heart attack.
    • Pain from heart attacks frequently radiates to other areas. In a panic attack, it usually stays in the chest area.

    Heart attack symptoms vary widely

    Dr. Rimmerman emphasizes that the symptoms of heart attack or angina can vary greatly from person to person. Some people experience no symptoms at all. Others experience crushing chest pain. Others may feel only arm, throat or jaw discomfort.

    But the discomfort is usually unrelenting, typically lasting five minutes or more.

    “Regardless of where the pain is, people typically can’t find a position that relieves the pain,” Dr. Rimmerman says. “Nor do they find relief by taking a drink of water, popping antacids or taking deep breaths.”

    How to crack your sternum

    Sternum or Breast Bone

    The organs in the thoracic cavity comprise of many critical organs of human body including the heart and lungs. This is the second largest cavity in the body and is surrounded (and protected) by the rib cage, breast bone (sternum) and the vertebral column. [1]

    The sternum, more commonly known as breastbone, is a long, flat bone which has an appearance that resembles the capital letter ‘T’ [2]. It is situated beneath the center of chest, and it measures around 17cm long in average. It primarily functions as a protection to the organs in the thoracic cavity, and it also acts as a joining point for the shoulder bones and ribs [3].

    How to crack your sternum

    Picture 1: Location of the sternum

    Image source:

    The sternum is subdivided into 3 parts [2]:

    • Manubrium – the upper and broader part of breast bone wherein it articulates the upper two ribs and the collar bones that are attached
    • Gladiolus or sternum body – the longest portion of the sternum
    • Xiphoid process –the small pointed cartilaginous process at the inferior portion of the sternum

    How to crack your sternum

    Picture 2: Anatomy of the sternum

    Image source:

    Sternum Pain

    Sternum pain is a sharp, usually unexpected pain in the chest area. The pain is sometimes associated with myocardial infarction (MI) or heart attack because of the similar sharp pain felt by the sufferer. Though it is usually not a serious problem, a chronic pain needs to be referred to a medical practitioner. [4]

    Sternum pain is characterized by a radiating paineither in the inferior side or sides of the breast bone. Mild to moderate sharp and stabbing sensations can be felt. [3]

    In certain cases, the pain is accompanied with tenderness and swelling accompanied by a cracking sound from the sternum joints. Such a condition is referred to as popping sternum. This sound, similar to popping knuckle, jaw or knees, generally originates from the joints connecting the ribs and the sternum. [3]

    Causes of Sternum Pain

    1. Costochondritis

    A common cause of sternum pain is costochondritis, which is due to a minor injury to the rib cage.Costochondritis is the medical term forpaininthe costochondral cartilage, which is located in the area where the rib cage and sternum meets. Applying excessive force or bruising the chest area may lead to this disorder. In this condition, the chest area may feel tender and sore.

    2. Tietze Syndrome

    Similar to costochondritis, Tietze syndrome also affects the costochondral cartilage. The difference is that in Tietze syndrome, the costochondral cartilage becomes inflamed. The cause of the inflammation is unknown, but it is usually linked to upper respiratory tract infections, severe cough, chest injury, or strenuous exercise.

    3. Joint damage

    Joint pains due to extreme physical activities like exercise and weight lifting can indicate a joint damage in the sternum and rib area. The pain felt can be persistent, and can affect the shoulder and collar bones if the cause of joint damage is arthritis.

    4. Muscle Pain

    The pectoral muscles are attached to the breast bone and any muscle pain involving this group of muscles could lead to a sore or bruised pain in the sternum. Other muscles like the intercostal muscle positioned between the ribs also lead to pain in the sternum. This is usually caused by forced or deep breathing, as in the case of asthma, emphysema and other respiratory disorders.

    How to crack your sternum

    Picture 3: Muscles around the ribcage area

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    5. Fractures

    An accident due to any physical trauma like a car accident can lead to fractures in breast bone. A sternum facture is rare as it can happen only if the forceful blow is felt directly at the breast bone. These fractures can generate mild or severe sternum pain depending on the intensity of the trauma. Fractures involving the sternoclavicular joint and collarbone can also lead to sternum pain.

    6. Surgery

    Any surgery involving the organs in thoracic cavity like an open heart surgery can repeatedly cause breast bone pain even long after the wounds heals. The pain may disappear over time, but may return when triggered stressful activities or changes in weather.

    7. Heartburn

    Heartburn or reflux caused by esophagitis leads to a burning pain in the breastbone. Another common cause of severe and burning pain in the sternum includes GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). The burning sensation is usually confused with pain experienced during heart attacks.

    8. Cardiac Disorders

    Some of the serious cardiac disorders causing pain under the breast include angina, myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, pericarditis and myocarditis.

    9. Respiratory Disorders

    Aside from asthma and emphysema, other respiratory diseases that can strain the intercostal musclesinclude bronchitis, tracheitis and bronchiectasis. Pneumonia and tuberculosis may also sternum pain in addition to affecting the area around the lungs and sides of chest.

    10. Psychological Causes

    Various psychological states like anxiety or panic attacks can give rise to pain under the sternum. This can be due to boosted heart rate or palpitations, psychogenic pain or heartburn.

    11. Other Conditions

    Other uncommon causes of sternum pain include acute pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, lung cancer, lung abscess, upper middle abdominal pain, sarcoidosis, breast cancer and bone cancer. [3, 4, 5, 6]

    Diagnosis of Sternum Pain

    Usually confused with heart problems, a pain in sternum can be a serious condition if ignored. Early diagnosis of breast bone pain and the appropriate treatment are recommended as it can even lead to severe illnesses like lymphoma and chondrosarcoma.

    Various imaging tests like X-ray, CT-scan and MRI can be used to observe any inflammation or injuries in the sternum and rib area. Reviewing the medical history of the patient for past injuries or surgeries is also helpful. [1]

    Treatment of Sternum Pain

    The treatment for breastbone pain depends on the duration of the pain. Generally, over-the-counter analgesics are given to alleviate acute pain. For chronic conditions, corticosteroids or NSAIDs are usually prescribed. [1]

    The treatment also depends on the origin or cause of pain. [4]

    • If the sternum pain is caused by anxiety attacks, calming the patient is the first step. Drugs may or may not be needed.
    • When the pain is caused by heartburn or any digestive disorders, medications such as antacids are usually given.
    • For costochondritis and Tietze syndrome, anti-inflammatory drugs are given to reduce the pain and swelling in the costochondral joint. A hot or cold compress can also reduce the inflammation.
    • When there are fractures involved, proper medical attention is needed.
    • Pain caused by heart disorders also needs immediate medical attention.

    Lastly, avoiding strenuous activities and proper rest can help alleviate sternum pain.