Causes of Breast Bone Pain (Sternum)

The breast bone, also known as the sternum, is a flat bone located in the middle of the thorax (chest) and serves two important functions in the body. Firstly, the breast bone protects the vital organs lying behind it, primarily the heart and airways, and secondly, it serves as a central point where the ribs and shoulder bones (clavicle) connect and articulate. The breast bone can be divided into three distinct parts :

  1. Manubrium
  2. Body
  3. Xiphoid process

Breast bone pain is a common symptom that is experienced at frequent intervals in life and may be harmless in most cases. However, persistent pain or pain that is increasing in intensity or frequency, should be investigated by a medical doctor. Breast bone pain is usually experienced and described as pain in the bone, under the breast bone or to the side of the bone.  Pain may range from sharp and stabbing sensations to mild soreness or a bruised feeling. In some cases there are reports of a popping sternum which is a clicking or cracking noise from the breastbone  joints that may be present along with pain, tenderness and swelling. Although referred to as the breast bone, the sternum does not lie under the breast but rather in between the breast, extending above (manubrium) and through the cleavage in women.


Causes of Breast Bone Pain

  • Heartburn or reflux is the most common cause of a burning pain along and under the breast bone as a result of esophagitis. Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) may also result in episodes of severe sharp pains in the chest and is often mistaken for a myocardial infarction (heart attack) during these episodes. Other types of esophagitis may also cause breastbone pain.
  • Fractures of the sternum is rare but may occur in car accident injuries due to the impact with the steering wheel.
  • Joint pain at the points where the shoulder bone (1) and ribs (2) articulate with the breast bone can be due to inflammatory joint disorders like arthritis although this is uncommon. More commonly, joint pain may be due to strain during impact or when exercising, specifically weight lifting. Joint pain is usually felt on either side of the breast bone. Costochondritis and Tietze’s syndrome are two common causes of breastbone pain due to the inflammation of the costal cartilage and joint.
  • Muscle pain, specifically of the pectoral muscles, may cause breast bone pain as they attach at this site. Muscle strain is the most common cause and results typically in a bruised or sore pain, often described as an ache. The intercostal muscles, which lie between the ribs, may also cause breast bone pain and these muscles may get strained during constant deep and forced breathing, particularly in respiratory disorders like emphysema and asthma.
  • Cardiac conditions like coronary artery disease, angina, myocardial infarction (heart attack), myocarditis and pericarditis are serious causes of pain under the breast bone.
  • Respiratory causes of breast bone pain include bronchitis, bronchiectasis and tracheitis. Tuberculosis and pneumonia may also cause pain under the breast bone although these conditions usually affect the sides of the chest around the area of the lungs.
  • Psychological conditions like panic and anxiety attacks may cause a perceived pain under the breast bone which may be related to an increased heart rate (palpitations), heartburn or psychogenic pain (perceived pain).
  • Surgery of the organs within the thoracic (chest cavity) may require separation of the bones of the chest. Cardiothoracis or open heart surgery may be the cause of long term pain in or on the sides of the breast bone even after the wounds heal.
  • Other conditions, which are not common causes of breast bone pain, may include acute pancreatitis, hiatal hernia, stomach ulcers and causes of excessive belching or upper middle abdominal pain. Cancer of the lungs, airways, lung abscess and sarcoidosis may also cause breast bone pain.

Related Questions and Answers

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  • Dominic

    Hi, I have pain in the xiphois process. i feel it when i brethe deeply or press on it. what could this be? the pain is not sharp, its lingering, maybe like a trapped nerve maybe but it does feel like its coming from the bone.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Dominic

      The possibilities are numerous depending on your history and any event preceding the pain. It could be due to costochondritis although the pain feels like it is in the xiphoid process. It could even be due to heartburn, other GI problems or angina. Since pain in the xiphoid process is not a common symptoms associated with any specific condition, it would be irresponsible of me to assess your condition. You need to see a doctor. Trauma is the most common cause of pain in the sternum but you should still see a doctor.

  • santhi977

    Hi, iam having pain in my left breast bone for the past 7 mths.It last for few mints and then goes off. I will have the pain a few times aday. I had my second child tru c-section on 21-7-09. I had P E in my lungs following that. Was on warfarin up 7-1-10. I am on remeron for panic attack as well. This pain is really scarying me. Pls advise. Tks.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Santhi977

      Breast pain on its own without any other signs and symptoms is not always a cause for concern especially if it is short term and occurs after pregnancy (even months after pregnancy). Check if there is swelling or any redness of the skin. Also do a self breast exam and take note of lumps – remember that you may feel many small lumps considering that you just gave birth some 6 to 7 months ago. Monitor for any abnormal discharge.

      While breast pain is not always a serious symptom, this has to be determined by your doctor who will exclude other serious pathology. One sided breast pain is less likely due to hormonal factors and may be as a result of injury or infection. This is what you need to focus on for now rather than more serious conditions until your doctor can assess your case, do a mammogram and make the final diagnosis.

      Also take note if you are experiencing any palpitations, dizziness and shortness of breath although the drug you are using is known to cause some of these symptoms. This may not be due to pain in the breast but of internal chest organs. It is also important to be to identify the symptoms of your panic attacks which may result in chest pain and is usually not due to any serious medical condition.

  • mimi21

    Hi, I’ve been having pain in my sternum for the past week or so. Sometimes when I stretch I hear a popping noise from my sternum. The pain increases when I lie in a way that puts pressure on it and I can feel it when I breathe sometimes as well. Is this something that will pass? I really do not want to go to the doctor if it is not absolutely necessary

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mimi21

      This ‘clicking’ indicates slight inflammation of the joint between the sternum and rib (costochondritis) although it could also be related to a slight ‘dislocation’ (not a true dislocation). Stretching your arms wide or taking a deep breath will cause it to click and this is caused by your positioning when doing prolonged tasks. For example, leaning on one hand on the floor while reading (common for students who do not sit at a desk), often cause and aggravates the condition. The pain usually does pass if you stop doing whatever it is that is causing the condition. Usually the ‘awkward’ position is not causing pressure directly on the chest wall but is transferred through the arms or shoulders. If you have identified the problem, then stop repeating it but if it does not ease in a week or two, then yes, you will need to see doctor.

      You don’t make mention of any other signs or symptoms, your age or any other medical information but be cautious about chest pain. It can sometimes be an indication of serious medical conditions. If in doubt, see your doctor immediately.

  • hzinati

    I’m sixteen and I’ve had pain in my sternum for about 3 months now. It feels bruised, and it also feels tight and compressed. It’s hard to explain, but I was just wanting to know if I should go to a doctor.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Hzinati

      You may feel these ‘aches and pains’ in the sternum as you grow up which may be due to inflammation of the joint between the rib and sternum (costochondritis). In some young girls this is a chronic problem known as Tietze’s syndrome and this term is often used synonymously with costochondritis. You will need to be on medication for Tietze’s as the pain is ongoing. If this pain continues to persist or if you are experiencing any other signs and symptoms then I would recommend that you see a doctor. Your age does not put you in a high risk group for more serious conditions but it is nevertheless possible.

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  • ppl

    Hi,I feel pain under my right breast near to the right of my breast bone.I can only feel the pain when I touch it.If not, I don’t feel any discomfort at all. There’s no lump on it and it has been there for several months.Can I know what’s the possible problem?I have done xray and nothing abnormal on it.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi ppl

      Since the pain is only upon touch and not brought about by any movement or other factors indicates that it is quite superficial. This may be related to injury and inflammation at the affected area that you may not be able to recall. The x-ray has not revealed any abnormality so it is unlikely a fracture. It could be more muscular in origin and the pectoral muscles could be the cause. Refer to the article on muscle chest pain and this may assist you further. Nevertheless consult with a doctor and get a second opinion if necessary.

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  • Richard

    I’m 41 and have a Pain in my chesy for many years. This Pain comes and Goes. It origanates underneath my Sternum bone and fells like it goes throught to my back. Jusk like being stabbed all the way through my body. It helps to yawn,inhale deeply and sometimes drink soda or liguid.. Laying on my back doesn’t help, Can this be caused by upper back problems(vertabrae)?. I have damaged my Flap inside my asgaphus, can this caused it?. Doesn’t come on for any certain reason, but does stop me in my tracks. Please help me and give me some info, as I’m going to VA and need some help with telling the Doctor..

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Richard

      Yes, it could be related to upper back problems but since you find some relief with drinking, it may not be due to the spinal column. Firstly you must exclude any cardiac or pulmonary causes (refer to the articles on lung chest pain and heart chest pain). Then your doctor will need to confirm/exclude any gastric causes (refer to the article on Gastric Chest Pain). If you go through these articles then you may find more specific conditions which may present with symptoms similar to yours. Also consider chostochondritis and other causes of a popping sternum which may be relieved with deep breathing, yawning or stretching.

  • antihealth

    I’m a 20 year old male and have been experiencing a sharp pain coming from my chest. It usually sticks around fer a day or so after drinking, but this time the pain has been with me for 3 days. I also have a bit of a wheeze. I had asthma when i was very young but it went away. Could it be coming back?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Antihealth

      Asthma usually does not go away totally and you will have episodes in life where you will get mild/severe symptoms related to it so this cannot be excluded entirely.

      By drinking, I assume you mean alcohol consumption. The pain could be related to pancreatitis although the pain is usually very severe in these instances. This pain can be felt like a sternal pain and the inflammatory response could trigger other symptoms related to chronic conditions. See your doctor. A range of tests for your pancreas functioning may be warranted. It could also just be increased stomach acid (after alcohol consumption) or even a mild hiatal hernia that is aggravated by alcohol. See you doctor.

  • Hpat

    For the past 2 months or so I have had pain on the right side of my sternum, It only happens when im laying on my side and when I breath deeply. There is also a cracking noise that happens when I stretch sometimes. I have gone to the doctor and he said that my joints are inflames and gever me Simicort. This is not helping. I have cronic allergies and sneeze (deep sneezes) aprox 20 – 30 times a day. Could I have fractured my sternum from sneezing? What do you suggest I do?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Hpat

      Its unlikely that you fractured your sternum from sneezing. You most likely have costochondritis which is an inflammation of the cartilage between the sternum and rib(s). This is why your doctor prescribed a corticosteroid. You will need to use it as prescribed for a period of time to get full relief. The pain upon sneezing and the cracking of popping upon stretching (read the article on Popping, Cracking Sternum) is typical for this condition. Go back to your doctor, tell him/her about the sneezing aggravating the condition and your doctor may prescribe medication for your allergies (allergic rhinitis). The sudden and forceful of the chest during a sneeze will continue to aggravate the inflammation and the sternal pain cannot resolve without treating the sneezing as well.

  • Hpat

    Oh sorry i am a 26 year old female..

  • asr6

    Hello, I have been having this on and off pain under my breast bone and it feels like someone is stabbing me.
    It will come and go and has been going on for like a month. It feels more sharp when i take a breath in. I am a female and the pain is actually right under where my braw lies. It is a pain that hurts and would like to know what could be causing this.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Asr6

      Its difficult to say what is causing this online. You need to see a doctor where a thorough case history is taken and a complete physical examination is conducted. Based on your doctor’s findings, further investigation like an x-ray may be warranted. Depending on your age, family history and previous medical history, this pain could be related to the heart, lungs or major blood vessels in the chest cavity. This is serious and requires specialist medical attention. On the other hand it could be bone/joint related, muscular or even nerve related pain (neuralgia).

      Some of these articles may be helpful :
      Lung Chest pain
      Heart Chest Pain
      Gastric Chest Pain
      Bone Chest Pain
      Muscle Chest Pain
      Nerve Chest Pain
      Chest Pain with Coughing

  • ddeb1960

    Hi my name is debra. i am 49 yrs old, i have sternum bone pain that is worse if pressure is applied and depends on the movement. it also feels swollen, and like the bone itself is enlarged. i have been experiencing some dizzyness upon lying down. im worried. i have a dr appt this week, and will dicuss it with him….deb

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Ddeb1960

      Tenderness and pain with swelling is usually indicative of an injury to this area. It could also be related to the joint between the ribs and sternum which will aggravate with movement. There are many possibilities and it depends a lot on your case history. However given your age and dizziness upon lying down, this raises questions about possible cardiovascular conditions. Some of these can result in chest pain and I would definitely advise that you discuss with your doctor. Another article that may be useful is Heart Chest Pain.

  • dmcdawn

    Hi I’m a 35yr old female. I have smoked cigarettes for 15yrs and recently started taking over the counter antacids once a day sometimes having to take a second one. I eat fairly healthy and do not drink alcohol at all but do consume 1 monster drink a day. Today I started having aching/pain in my upper sternum which hurts more when I press on it. The ache goes through to my back and now up to my neck. It hurts more when I exhale deeply. Do I need to see a doctor? What could this be?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Dmcdawn

      Yes, it is advisable that you see your doctor. Given your cigarette smoking, this could be possible lung or heart disease. Don’t let your fairly young age of 35 distract you from the possibility of lung or cardiovascular pathology. These conditions are increasing among younger age groups. Your acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) could also account for the pain and sensitivity. While this is not as serious as lung, heart or blood vessel disorders, your doctor will first have to exclude the more serious pathologies.

  • leandra

    Hello , I am 28 and other wise healthy women i have a child by c-section in 07 and have a VERY stress free life the last 22 days i have been having sharp pains in my chest under my breast bone and have been to er twice over it first vist they said i was having panic attacks (even though i have no family history of mental health issues and have never had issues with being upset lol i have a wonderful home life and no money problems blessed second vist was to diff. dr seeing first was over the edge for me… this dr said it could b the mus. around the ribs and such and gave me pain killers that lasted two day ha like i said this has been happing for 21-23 days now so two days of no pain what do i do now??? i have a dr app. and i dont know how to relay to them that i NEED to know what is causing this i have been in the bed for 15 days cause it hurts to move…. im a young lady i should not have to stay at home cause they dont have any idea whats wrong do you have any ideas???

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Leandra

      There are many possibilities, ranging from muscular to bone and joint problems relating to the chest wall. As you have mentioned smoking, there is a possibility that it could be a lung related disorder. You can take a look at this article on Lung Chest Pain.

      First you need to exclude a muscle related problem as this is the most common cause as well as the joint disorder, costochondritis. As a woman, you should also go for a full breast examination to exclude this as a possible cause. A lot depends on your history and any incident(s) that preceded the onset of the pain. Anxiety is always a possibility and this is a common symptom in anxiety. Even if you are not experiencing any problems in life, anxiety may still be a possibility and you may not realize it.

      Acid reflux or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux) could also be a possibility here and may explain the irritation in the throat. The stomach acid may be rising while you sleep and causing inflammation of the tissue of the throat. This makes the throat quite sensitive.

      Speak to your doctor about imaging techniques, like an x-ray, MRI or even an endoscopy. This would help with further clarity on the matter.

  • leandra

    also i have quit smoking almost a month ago and thought this could b causing this but it never stops and ALWAYS hurts they have done blood work for everything with my heart and know its not that…… i seem to get a scratch in my throat everytime i eat as well but dont know if this has anything to do with it or not….

  • i’m 36 and i’m suffering from a chest pain/ sternum pain for about 5 yrs now. its getting worse everytime i get pregnant. i want to be free from this pain because it is as if killing me little by little. my work and daily chores are all affected by the pain. i’m not pregnant and yet the pain is still terrible. there was once a time that i was not able to stand up because of the intense pain. what will i do?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Lushavin

      You need to see a doctor so that the appropriate investigations can be conducted to assist with a diagnosis. It could be costochondritis, explained in the article, or it could even be related to the muscles of the chest wall or heart. Since you mention that it occurs more often when you are pregnancy, it could very likely be a problem with the chest wall (bone, muscle, joint) as the breasts enlarge during this time. Nevertheless see a doctor for further advice.

  • twhite


    Last Tuesday i woke up and felt a mild pain to the right of my sternum (perhaps an inch). It hasn’t gone away since. I have already gone to the doctor and am waiting on some blood work followups, but I’m wondering how high are the chances that I might have something more serious, like lung cancer? I’m only 25, but I have been smoking on and off (not heavily though, it takes me about four days to smoke a pack when i have one) since 16. I don’t have a cough, or any wheezing or respiratory issues surrounding this pain, and it seems to be more pronounced after I eat, or when I’m about to burp (actually, ive noticed excessive burping occurring since this began).

    My initial thought was that it is gallbladder related, but should I even bother to go and get a chest x-ray? Breathing in or out doesn’t hurt. It almost feels like a bruise when i press on it, but it does mildly ache after a meal (for a little bit, maybe half an hour at most).

    Has there ever been any cases where lower-right xiphoid pain was the only symptom for lung cancer? I’d ask my doctor but I don’t want him to think I’m a hypochondriac.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Twhite

      Given that you are a smoker for about 9 years (irrespective of the amount), you are at a higher risk of lung cancer. However you should not get ahead of yourself just yet. This type of pain can be related to a number of other causes and there is no need to jump ahead to one of the more serious causes (i.e. lung cancer) until you have excluded other, less serious and more common complaints.

      As you have mentioned that it is related to eating and when you are about to burp, this could very likely be GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease). You may possibly be experiencing heartburn related to acid reflux and don’t get fooled by the term – heartburn does not always feel like a burn. At times it can be a severe pain and is even mistaken for a heart attack due to the severity of the pain.

      Another possibility is a peptic ulcer but your doctor will confirm or exclude these diagnoses.

      Your age is an important factor as well and since you are young, not experiencing other breathing-related symptoms and have not reported other major symptoms (which you would have noticed and hopefully divulged to your doctor), lung cancer should not be your first consideration. It is a possibility but other conditions are more likely.

      Depending on your physical activity, costochondritis is another possibility. Wait to see what your doctor has to say but don’t get stressed about it unnecessarily.

  • twhite

    Thanks for your reply.

    My blood tests came back normal for liver and pancreas, but they noticed slightly elevated WBC levels. I know high WBC is related to infection, but you mentioned GERD, and I was wondering if inflammation could be the cause, rather than infection? My doctor is suggesting I take my gallbladder out “just in case”, and while although I know the consequences of having an infected gallbladder is severe, are there any other tests that could rule out the possibilities? The sonogram showed that I had a gallstone, but just one (1 cm large), and I’m not experiencing typical gallbladder pain. I figured an infected gallbladder would have me bed-ridden, vomiting and severe pain? I don’t even have pain save for swallowing and burping. Most of the day I don’t even feel it. The only indication that it may be gallbladder related is that the area near my URQ feels swollen and crampy, but this only occurs at certain times of the day as well.

    What kind of tests can you take to determine if you have GERD? I’m kind of overwhelmed because I’ve never had any kind of gastric issues in my life until now.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi TWhite

      Considering that your doctor is advising you to remove your gallbladder means that there is probably more going on than you are aware of. Slightly elevated WBC is different from a high WBC and if it is short term, it is likely to be due to an infection. Depending on the cause, the appropriate treatment should be initiated before surgery is considered. Yes, this could be due to an H.pylori infection in the stomach which will contribute to your GERD. The gallstone however is quite large but nevertheless, you should seek a second opinion before undergoing surgery. Consult with a gastroenterologist (or another one i you have already done so) and discuss your case thus far.

  • lin580

    hey dr chris…
    i am 20 yrs old, a college athlete, in the great shape, completely healthy, not allergic to anything, and here reciently, (within the last week and a half) ive started having chest pains, i understand that most people get Pleurisy and i do get that from time to time, but this is a differnt kind of pain. Its in the sternum body. Its tender to the touch, and sometimes the pain shoots through to my back around the spine and not to mention that it is sometimes hard to breath and i have been more sleepy then usual.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Lin580

      You should speak to your doctor about this pain. While in your age group, it would most likely be muscular or even due to the bone or costochondral joint, often caused by injury, it may be related to a more serious condition related to the heart or lungs. This should be excluded first given the difficulty breathing and fatigue that you are experiencing.

      Refer to the articles on Heart Chest Pain and Lung Chest Pain for more information. Consult with a doctor as soon as you can.

  • Kinger17

    I am a 32 y/o white male. I was a moderate smoker (~ a pack per week) for about 10 years. I quit about 18 months ago.

    For the last month Ive had difficulty breathing. It started as the snow was melting, so I chalked it up to alergies from mold. It was a feeling of breathlessness or not being able to fully breathe in. I got a cold about two weeks ago which exacerbated the breathing issue. I went to urgent care and the Dr. said she heard a little bronchitis and pit me on a 5 day course of antibiotics and an inhaler.

    I finished the antibiotics a few days ago, but I’m still having issues. I have very low physical exercise tolerance…I can get winded just walking up the stairs holding my two year old. My breathing is mostly the breathlessness, but I also have an inconsistent unproductive cough that has been around for the last week or so. Additionally, I’ve felt fatiged, tired, and somewhat weak, randomly over the last month. Now, I seem to have pain at the very top of my sternum. Kind of a discomfort rather than pain unless I put pressure on it.

    Being the hypochondriac that I am since my child was born, I am of course thinking lung cancer (I know, sorry). I had a chest x-ray in October due to some enlarged lymph nodess onthe left aide of my neck…a neck CT revealed nothing…and the chest x-ray was clear.

    I am going back to the doctor, but my mind is running wild. I know a standard x-Ray can miss cancer, but is it possible to have clear picture in October and now be presenting with cancer symptoms? (sorry, the is it possible answer is yes, but I need to ask.).

    Any additonal advice is appreciated. I know it’s rare, but people in their early 30’s do get lung cancer, most likely smokers.

    Is there anything else this could be? if it is cancer I’ve got nobody to blame but myself. Thanks for letting me vent. I am going to the Dr. but I’m just looking for some reassurance. Thanks!

    PS- I also still have a lot of post nasal that is causing me to cough too.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kinger17

      Don’t make the assumption of lung cancer just yet until your doctor confirms or exclude such a diagnosis. First you will have to exclude other possible conditions that may be causing these symptoms. Bronchitis is the most common of these conditions and it can be acute or chronic. Acute is more responsive to antibiotics.

      Chronic bronchitis is persistent and while it most often occurs in smokers, it can occur in ex-smokers and a person who is exposed to other noxious substances in the environment. While it is considered chronic because of the duration, it can resolve spontaneously in time and using a bronchodilator will help in the interim. However your recent cold and post-nasal drip could be exacerbating the original problem so it may seem like it is not subsiding. The mucus may be entering the lungs and therefore contributing to these breathing symptoms as well.

      However any change or difficulty in breathing requires medical investigation. It is not a matter of being overcautious – it is totally warranted in this instance. I will not get drawn into answering your lung cancer question. There is no way I or even your doctor can conclusively answer this without further investigation. I would advise that you don’t stress too much.

      Let you doctor decide on further tests and then make a conclusive diagnosis of any of these conditions.

  • Fade

    Hi Dr. Chris!

    I am a 22-year-old caucasian female and I have been suffering from mild soreness in my sternum for the past two months. The soreness comes and goes and ranges from mild discomfort (when I am still) to moderate discomfort (when I am running or when someone is hugging me tightly.) The best way I can describe it is intense pressure in the center of my sternum, as if someone where trying to push my ribs together from the outside.

    The soreness is not severe enough for me to see a doctor but I still want to make sure that my condition is not serious.

    Here is some background information I thought might be factors:

    * I commute by bicycle and I spend roughly half of my day riding in traffic and breathing heavily polluted air.

    * I have a physical job where I hold up a sign and wave for four hours, six days a week (maybe all the upper body activity is making my chest muscles sore?)

    * Because I have an outdoor job I must work in all weather conditions. It has been very cold and wet and windy lately; is it possible that I contracted bronchitis and don’t even realize it?

    * I recently recovered from mononucleosis

    * I have been a vegan for five years. My doctor is vegan himself and says that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet for your heart, but I still worry that I am not getting adequate amounts of protein to keep my heart in optimum condition. I lead a very active lifestyle and I worry about having a stroke or heart attack due to having a weakened heart.

    * I have occasional heart palpitations. (They occur most frequently when I am sedentary and/or don’t get enough sleep.)

    * I heard that chest pain can be caused by pregnancy but I am 99.9% sure that I am not pregnant. I haven’t gotten my period for the past seven months but I believe that’s due to my strict dieting and exercise regime, and not due to pregnancy.

    Well, there it is. The rubix cube that is my life. If you can solve my chest pain problem I will be very greatful. 🙂

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Fade

      Before delving into the issue of your breastbone pain, I must stress that as a young female who is not on hormone based contraceptives (I assume), the fact that you have not had your period in 7 months (a condition known as amenorrhea) is worrying. No diet or exercise regime should be so severe as to affect your menstrual cycle and if this is the cause, then you are overdoing it and jeopardizing your health.

      All the possibilities that you have mentioned could be a possibility. 🙂

      But given your age and activity (cycling and holding and waving a sign), the pain is very likely due to the chest muscles or joint between the rib and sternum. In terms of the muscles, there is a good chance that you have lost muscle bulk with your strict diet and therefore limited protein intake. This means that your muscles cannot tolerate as much strain as it should and pain could be a symptom of muscle strain.

      The other possibility is that your activity, especially stooping over when you are holding your bicycle handlebars and the sign waving has inflamed the cartilaginous joint between the breastbone and ribs. This condition known as costochondritis can arise for a number of reasons with strain on the joint being one of them. Remember that when your hands move or bear any weight, this is transferred to the chest and focus on the central part of the back and sternum.

      These are just two possible scenarios and there is no way to conclusively diagnose your condition on this online platform. If you are experiencing discomfort, you should see a doctor even if it is not severe pain.

  • browneyedgirl

    I am a 40 year old female and have had a strong dull pain in my upper abdomen just under my sternum. When I get this pain it also makes me nauseas and sometimes have pain up into the jaw as well. It last up to an hour or so.
    When I lay down at night I sometimes feel a lump there, and if I feel around it, it will stay “sore” for a while, otherwise I don’t feel it (except when that dull pain grabs me).
    What could cause a lump in this area, that may also cause these attacks i get?

    • Jan Modric


      I strongly recommend you to visit a doctor, who can examine you, as soon as possible. A lump in the abdomen is not normal, whatever it is.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Browneyedgirl

      Given your age and associated symptoms like the nausea and pain referred to the jaw, I would advise that you see a doctor to exclude possible cardiac causes of your condition. Even though you may have been experiencing these episodes for a long time now, it can still be the sign of a serious condition that may suddenly strike and leave your debilitated. I will not go int a possible diagnosis here with the limited information but I would advise that you speak to your doctor about this.

      As for the lump, any lump should be treated as a priority. You need to speak to your doctor and undergo appropriate imaging studies to confirm or exclude certain diseases. A tumor is a possibility but this “lump” could also be due to the abdominal muscles tensing in relation to the pain and pressure you are applying on your abdominal wall. This is a form of ‘guarding’. Apart from that, a hiatal hernia is also known to cause many of the symptoms you are describing.

      You should see your doctor about all these complaints.

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    Rudy Ask:

    I have had abdominal pain now for 10 years. It is to my right side of the xiphoid process and extends under my right ribcage. When I apply pressure… Read More.

  • valmontemmanuel

    i have been feeling this pain in the manubrium, occasionally. it resurfaces, sometimes. i felt this when i was first year college, now im incoming third year. i feel the pain when i wake up from sleep in morning, probably im assuming this is because of my sleeping positions, i move many times … To read more of this question and the answer by Dr. Chris, please view the article on Morning Sternum (Breastbone), Manubrium Pain Upon Waking

  • Samansara

    I stopped smoking seven months ago after 40 years. I had a chronic smokers cough. I am still coughing but it seems worse to me. My Dr. keeps telling me it is my sinus and has given me steroids, antibiotics, benzonatate to help with … To read the rest of this question and the answer by Dr. Chris you can view the article Chronic Smoker’s Cough With Stabbing Sternum Chest Pain.

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  • Alyaa

    hi,i have pain at braest bone slightly at R.side and pain may extend under chest bone,,and this pain is intermittent,when pain come is increase when i touch the breast bone,,also occur pain at L,side of abdomen..iam 21 years old female..iam suffer also from Irritable Bowel Syndrome..this 1st time suffer from this problem..but more than one time,there are some bouts in left side..i want know this diagnosis,,please

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Alyaa

      There are a number of possible causes for the pain that you are experiencing and it is not possible to make a diagnosis online. Pain associated with IBS can cause referred pain to the chest. However, the cause of this chest pain could also be due to some disease related to the heart, blood vessels, lungs or other gastrointestinal structures in the chest. It would be advisable to speak to a doctor and have further tests like a chest x-ray, abdominal ultrasound and the necessary blood tests. Only then can your doctor make a diagnosis. You may find these articles helpful :
      Lung Chest Pain
      Heart Chest Pain
      Gastric Chest Pain
      Causes of Left Side Abdominal Pain

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  • 2muchPain

    Hi, I’m 20 years old,male and overweight.For about a week now i am experiencing a stab-like pain in my chest,right between my breasts.It puts me to my knees if i sneeze and it also hurts if i try to get up from bed.The pain is always present,but not maximum as long as I don’t make any rapid moves.I also feel a little discomfort at the left of my back but i don’t know if that’s related.I should also mention that I started working out recently,but since the pain occurred I stopped.I stayed in bed for about 4 days,consumed aspirin and used analgesic cream at my chest but nothing of these worked!Please,I really need your professional opinion!Thank you in advance!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi 2MuchPain

      Your symptoms could be due to inflammation of the joints between the ribs and breastbone and the analgesic cream that you are using may not be able to penetrate deep enough. There is possibly also some muscle spasm probably from the workout and aspirin may only offer temporary relief. Depending on the extent of the muscle strain or joint inflammation, you may need stronger drugs like muscle relaxants or even steroid drugs for your joint pain. You should see your doctor and discuss this with him/her. You may need a chest x-ray as well. You do not mention any other symptoms that could indicate that it may be due to a lung, heart or even gastrointestinal cause of your chest pain. However this cannot be ruled out entirely although you are young and it is less likely. Since it has lasted for 4 days, it is now time to see a doctor as soon as possible.

  • 2muchPain

    I should also mention if I press just a little left to my neck I can feel a lot of pain


    Hi, I’m 20 and for a while now I have been experience everyday small sharp/burning pains by my left breast on the right side. I don’t know if it is heart related or what. Could you help? My mom should be taking me to get it checked out soon.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi KTBUG

      It is important to identify whether this pain is in the breast, on the chest wall or inside the test.

      If it’s the chest wall, it could be due to inflammation of the joint between the ribs and breastbone. This is common in your age group for a number of reasons.
      If it’s the breast itself, then this could be related to hormone changes, the brassiere size and fit and so on.

      Any injury to the area may cause both breast pain or pain of the chest wall.

      It is difficult to isolate the possible causes with such limited information. See your doctor.

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  • lizdon1120

    Hi, I am 26 years old. My left breast bone sticks out more than my right. When I look in the mirror you can see it. You can feel it to. Sometimes it hurts when I touch it. It’s been there since I was 17 years old. Maybe you can tell me what it might be. I’m scared to go to the dr. I have 2 children 71/2 and 1 year old. I hope its nothing too serious. Thank you

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Lizdon

      The question is whether the breastbone is tilted or whether one side appears to be protruding more than the other side. This could be due to various causes and if you are a female (you don’t state) then you should be cautious of breast related problems that could be contributing to this appearance. There are other possibilities related to chest wall deformities, breathing problems (probably one-sided ‘pigeon chest’ although unlikely) and even that you chest muscle may be more developed on one side. You need to see a doctor – as an adult and parent you need to put aside your unwarranted fear of doctors.

  • mk77

    I have various chest pain issues since oct. 2009. I have had a mammogram and biopsy, no cancer. I had a stress test with no dye. No abnormalities. I have had endoscopy and colonoscopy all normal. I had a respiratory test. Showed minimal asthma. The pain in my sternum is getting worse. I wake up in the middle of the night with sharp chest pain in the sternum. For the last several months the sternum has been sensitive to touch. Is this anything to worry about?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi MK77

      Chest pain is always a cause for concern, especially after the age of 40. Although your doctor(s) have conducted all the necessary test, it may be helpful to see a cardiologist for other chest pain tests. It could be as related to wearing a poorly fitting or tight bra which is restricting certain chest movements and thereby straining the joints (costochondritis) or it could be something more serious. Go back to your doctor and ask him about further testing or go and see a cardiologist and/or pulmonologist to exclude more serious conditions.

  • mk77

    I forgot to mention I am 44 yrs old. Pain during the day starts as dull ache that by the end of the day is annoying. I usually see if taking my bra off will work but it doesn’t relieve it. I have troubles exercising other than walking or eliptical as it increases pain.

  • Mahalo

    I usually crack my breast bone with no problem however a few days ago I cracked my bone like usuall, but now I feel this pain not sharp more like soreness. Could I have injured by breastbone? Also, last week I was lifting heavy items helping someone move. I should mention that i have latent tb, but I don’t think that could be related right?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mahalo

      Cracking your chest pain is not “normal”. You may have strained your ligaments or caused joint inflammation. The recent physical activity may have also contributed to it and you may have costochondritis. Refer to the article on Severe Costochondritis. It’s unlikely that the latent TB is contributing to it from what you say but it is a possibility. See your doctor.

  • AM

    I have stabbing breast bone pain, swollen breast for last 3 weeks. Do you recommend mammogram or chest xray?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi AM

      Both may be necessary. If cost is a factor then start with a chest x-ray. A lot depends on your age, past medical history, current drug regimen and healths status. Your doctor will be best suited to advise you on this.

  • WYNN042

    I’m an 26 y/o Asian female with sternum soreness on the slight left side. Soreness absent during breathing & normal activities except when sneezing. When sneezing, soreness/pain at about 2/10, tolerable.
    Onset: 3 to 4 months ago after a flu/cold (of 3 weeks) with coughing (productive); sputum was white to creamy color, no fever or other symptoms, family doc said it was bronchitis. But the soreness never went away completely after cold/flu symptoms were gone.
    History: no significant cardiac events in the past except for chest pains during late teens and family doc said it was likely chest wall/muscle spasm. No other significant illnesses or histories. Healthy in general.
    Activities: mild to moderate exercises 1 to 3x/week. Currently a graduate student with moderate to high stress workload and schedule.
    Medications: topical steroids for mild skin rashes/eczema. Vitamin B, C, E and Calcium supplement. Normal diet.
    Do no smoke and drink. No history use of substance.

    What is most likely the cause of this soreness? If I do have “costochondritis,” what would be the treatment and how can I get better from it? I tried taking Ibuprofen but it’s not working out for me. Please help me, thank you so much!!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi WYNN042

      Chest pain, like you describe, in a young female is often suspected to be Tietze’s syndrome if there are no other signs or symptoms to indicate another condition. Since it is persisting after your bout of bronchitis, it is very likely to be costochondritis as the constant coughing could have caused inflammation of the cartilage. You need to see a doctor to confirm this. The other concern is that there may be a more chronic lung condition – like TB. It is difficult to say if this is the case and your doctor will need to do a chest x-ray and sputum test to confirm this. There should also be other signs and symptoms present at this point though. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment for costochondritis. It is also a possibility that this pain is not related to the chest wall or lungs but once again, this can only be confirmed or excluded by your doctor after a thorough clinical evaluation. A mammogram may also be necessary to exclude any breast related problems.

  • WYNN042

    Thank you Dr. Chris. While I wait for my appointment…I’d like to ask a few follow-up questions.
    My cough has been gone since the cold/flu symptoms went away. I searched online and I don’t have any of the TB symptoms such as weight loss, night sweat, fever or loss of energy. I am, though, vaccinated against TB as a child, therefore I am always TB (+). I do get chest X-rays often (last was last June) to screen out TB every institute/facility I go; if I don’t have to do it again I’d be happy to stay away from X-rays (though I know it is one of the important diagnostic tests).
    Is it possible for people who are vaccinated against TB get TB? What is the likeliness?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi WYNN042

      The BCG vaccine (TB vaccine) is effective but does not offer 100% protection. With the respiratory type of TB, the protection offered by the vaccine is limited. If you have any dip in your immune functioning – even prolonged periods of studying and stress can lower you immune system – you can be prone to developing TB, especially if you are exposed to infected patients. In developing countries, it is almost impossible not to be exposed to somebody with TB at some stage even if you are not a health care worker. But these days, with HIV, almost the same is applicable for developed nations. Don’t fixate on the possibility of TB. A doctor needs to diagnose this if there are any evident signs. Don’t get carried away with the typical textbook description of signs and symptoms – they are not always as overt in the early stages.

      I must caution at this point about attempting to self-diagnose. This should be left to your doctor. The reason why many conditions are missed is because patients do not go for follow up visits to their doctors. Initially your doctor will suspect and exclude the most common illnesses. If you do not respond to these treatments or if the first few batches of tests come out negative, only then will they suspect more serious or less common ailments. This is why you have to maintain follow up consultation with your doctor and try not to “beat them to the punch” with self-diagnosing.

  • jfish

    I have been experiencing a couple of things in the area of my xiphoid and along the edge of my rib cage. First of all, there is no pain – I’m 48 in generally very good health. I’ve had ultrasound of my organs and everything was fine. I’ve had barium swallow and xray and with the exception of a very minor “possible” slight stricture, everything was fine. I was diagnosed as having h pylori, and took antibiotics for that. Since I really wasn’t having gerd symptoms, I’m not sure if that was really a problem or not. I have regular bowel movements daily, and don’t excessively burp or anything like that. Now, first of all I notice that my xiphoid pops or cllicks when I bend forward and backward in a certain motion – basically like a stomach crunch motion. Again, no pain. The other thing is that I feel this “feeling”, kind of like pressure, along the edge of my rib cage – the best way to describe it is if you would imagine pressing a balloon against the edge of your hand. Again, no pain. This is only noticeable when I’m sitting in kind of a slouching position, or when I first get up from sitting. When I’m laying down, when I’m standing, walking, excersizing, I don’t notice anything. For the most part it is just annoying, but worrying if it is something “serious” is the problem for me. If I knew it was just some muscle strain or something, I’d probably forget about it. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. – thanks

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi JFish

      Since you have had so many tests, I won’t delve into other possible causes which may have been excluded by these tests. There is a possibility that what you are experiencing (“balloon”) is gas trapped in the large intestine (transverse colon) because it does lie in this area. As for the popping xiphoid, I think you have to ascertain where it is the xiphoid. The clicking noise that you may be experiencing may be due to some other cause. You should speak to your doctor about this. If it is not causing any problem, it is probably minor but nevertheless, given your age, there are many other chronic conditions that could be starting up which may present with these symptoms.

  • chrissyfwb

    Hi Dr. Chris–

    I am a 25 year old female. I am a stay at home mom to two kids a 4 year old an a 19 month old. I am not over weight and have no other medical history at all! I have been perfectly healthy all my life.

    About 3 weeks ago I started having chest pain. SOMETIMES it does hurt when I push on my sternum.. but also sometimes I feel the chest pain and it doesnt hurt when I push there. also it DOES NOT hurt when I breath in deeply. I have been hearing popping noises sometimes when I move a certain way or breath in deeply. also it is a LITTLE tender in one small spot on my sternum right in the middle. Also the pain comes is MUCH less in the mornings and when I am lying on my back.

    I have been to the ER THREE times!!! First they did blood work and a chest xray and said that it was costochondritis. well the second time I went they did a ct scan of my chest (which came back normal) and told me they didnt know what was the problem was. the third time I went they said it was bronchitis which is obsurd because I have NO difficulty breathing or noise when I breath or a fever or ANY symptoms at all. Although they took an xrray that time too and maybe they saw something on the xray? Ok so here are my questions that I can not seem too get answered:

    1. Can Costocondritis pain come and go, and be less painful in the morning.

    2. Can costocondritis STILL be causing me pain 3 weeks later.

    3. Can you have costocondrits even if sometimes there is no pain when pushing on the sturnum?

    4. Can you have costocondritis even if it doesnt hurt when you breath in deeply?

    5. Can you have bronchitis with out having ANY symptoms of it? other than why they might have seen in an xray?

    6. Can costocondritis cause upper back pain?

    I also apologize for the bad spelling… I hope this gets to you and you are able to help me.. this is making me a little crazy..


    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Chrissyfwb

      1. Yes, it can.

      2. Definitely. Can persist for months.

      3. Yes. It sometimes aggravates where there is tenderness. Sometimes not. There should be some tenderness when pressing on the side of the breastbone most of the time.

      4. Yes, may be mild. Some people only experience it when stretching there arms or picking up a heavy object where they have to bend the elbow.

      5. Possible for a day or two but unlikely in the long term. Cannot answer the second part of the question because I have not seen the x-ray.

      I think you should see a another doctor and do not rely on ER visits for diagnosis or management of your condition. Here they have to exclude or confirm serious conditions and may not have the time (or patience) to investigate the condition further. Since it is not serious, it may just be passed off as some other condition. See your family doctor or an orthopedic surgeon.

  • maryblansh


    My name is Mariana, i am 27 and i am from Brazil. Sorry my english. I’ve been having a pain behind my sternum for almost 5 months. Usually it happens when a sleep on one side and when i wake up it hurts a lot. During the day it stills hurts if i make pressure on it. I’ve tried to sleep with my sternum up but it didn’t work. I have been to a doctor but the exames show no efective results. I have made a x-ray and magnetic resonance and no conclusive results either. I’m kind lost now.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Maryblansh

      In a woman of your age, costochondritis (inflammation of the costal cartilage) is a quite a common cause of sternal pain. It may not always show up on an x-ray or MRI and often the diagnosis is based on the presentation of signs and symptoms. Your doctor will have to make this diagnosis. It may also be an issue with gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) which may not be presenting in the typical manner. An upper GI endoscopy may be useful at this point. Heart and lung conditions should not be ruled out immediately. As a woman, you should also consider possible breast pathology which may be contributing to this and a mammogram should be done. If you are doing any strenuous activity with yoru hands during the day, it is possible that this breastbone pain may actually be muscular in origin. Go back to your doctor and speak to him about your condition so that he can consider doing further tests.

  • Chantilly33

    I am a 35 year old female. I am a smoker but not too heavy. I am a little overweight, heart disease and diabetes run in my family.

    When I get a “chill” from the weather or air conditioning I get very severe under breastbone pain. Sometimes I even get pain in the upper part of my left arm. The arm pain is more dull than sharp. Almost like a squeezing sensation. The breastbone pain will stay until I warm up. I’ve been known to have to leave places and go into my car and turn the heat on blast when it’s 100 degrees outside.

    I’ve asked a couple doctors and all I get is “I don’t know” as an answer.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Chanitilly

      Considering your age, weight, history and smoking, you should have an angiogram to check if there is any occlusion of the coronary blood vessel(s). Other possible causes could be due to bronchospasm which is more likely to be aggravated by cold. The pain could also be emanating from the chest wall due to an old injury/fracture, osteoarthritis or muscle spasm. Of course as a woman, any breast pathology should also be considered. Refer to the article on Chest Pain Tests so that you can better understand what procedures may be necessary to identify the cause.

  • maryblansh


    I am 27 year old female. I’ve been having a pain behind my sternum for almost 5 months. Usually it happens when a sleep on one side and when i wake up it hurts a lot. During the day it stills hurts if i make pressure on it. I’ve tried to sleep with my sternum up but it didn’t work. I have been to a doctor but the exames show no efective results. I have made a x-ray and magnetic resonance and no conclusive results either. I’m kind lost now.

    Thank you for your help.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Maryblansh

      I did respond to your question on the 19th. Please take a look.

      Readers please note that there is no need to post a question or comment twice. This is a free service and we will not respond to questions and comments immediately. A response can take up to 72 hours (sometimes longer). Thank you.


    Recently my doctor sent me in to get a CT scan after many years of very strange symptoms, most recently including chest pains, lump in arm pit, night sweats, not sleeping, nervs jumping in sleep, ect ect. I also suffer from scoliosis so trying to narrow down the symptoms is quite difficult. but after chest x-rays, blood tests, and cat doctor had found abnormal tissue in my chest ( enlarged Thymus ) – What are some of the long term effects, symptoms, related issues?

    Anything would be wonderful,



    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Amess

      The concern here should not be about the symptoms of an enlarged thymus but rather what is causing the enlargement. The other focus should be on these “lumps” in your armpit. These two signs raises the question about cancer.

      The thymus plays important roles in developing the immune system early in life. As you get older, its functions diminish and the gland slowly shrinks and is replaced by fatty tissue. Enlargement (depending on the cause) may go unnoticed in most cases. I would not advise that you attempt to attribute specific symptoms to certain conditions that you may have, as a means of self-management or consoling yourself. If you are experiencing any symptoms speak to your doctor immediately.

      Chest pain, night sweats and a “lump” in the axilla – these may be signs/symptoms of serious disorders that require medical attention. Cancer, HIV infection, autoimmune diseases and so on need to be tested for and excluded.

  • julie

    female 38 when in to hospital on May 1st for back pain that worsen’s with deep breaths. Heart rate 135 and shortness of breath. Diagnosed with pulmonary embolisms. Lung RX, CT scan, VQ scan, pap test, Mammography, gastroscopy. Still expericing constant pain in back and sternum…is this a normal condition after my diagnosis or should I be freaking out

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Julie

      The pain can persist for a period of time and a lot depends on underlying conditions and what type of treatment has been undertaken. With this type of condition you should be having frequent visits with your doctor so it would be advisable to go back and see him/her.

  • dmw8310

    Hi, I’ve been reading all of the posts and don’t see my exact situation. Several days ago I started feeling a pain in the lowest end of my sternum, about dead center. It feels mostly like a bruise but during the night when I move it is very painful, more like muscle related. I was doing some weeding a day or two before this started. Like others, no insurance, but need to see a doctor? Thank you.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi DMW8310

      There are numerous causes for your type of pain (and the location). It would be difficult to say what could be causing this without an x-ray, CT scan and clinical evaluation. Your past medical history and any other symptoms apart from the pain would also be helpful to your doctor. A bruised sensation may indicate a cause related to the chest wall (skin, muscle, bone/cartilage) but this may not always be the case. Even pain with changes in position or pain upon moving which one would think is related to the musculoskeletal system could be due to deeper lying pathology.

      From the area that you describe (if I understand it correctly), there is concerns about your liver, gallbladder, bowels (particularly large intestine) and of course, your lungs and, heart and linings of both the lung and heart. As you can see there are many possibilities. Any chest pain (this is chest pain) in a person over the age of 40 years, smoker or ex-smoker (you are still regarded as a smoker unless you have quit for a minimum of 2 years) warrants immediate medical attention. Heart and lung related disorders need to be excluded.

      Unfortunately the cost issue is always a consideration when you do not have insurance but you really do need to see a doctor, more so than some of the others who have asked questions on this platform. The pain may be due to muscle strain, it may pass in a few days or so but nevertheless it should be investigated. I would be concerned about your symptoms so please attempt to see a medical professional immediately.

  • dmw8310

    Oh, sorry, I’m 45 & female, don’t exercise very regularly but otherwise healthy and just quit smoking 2 months ago. Actually, I would have to say the pain when I palpate the area is just slightly to the right of center and not as far down as the xiphoid process.

  • rkj77

    I am 33, smoked for 10 years but quite in 2006. I have been having pain in Sternum area. Started to develop around 05/24 where I went in for jaw pain; however, noticed mild pain in chest area. Doctor said I was most likely grinding teeth and told me to try mouth guard and take advil. Jaw pain seemed to get better but chest pain got worse and led me to Urgent Care on 06/19. I explained the pain, almost a burning feeling on Sternum; however, no redness on skin and also tender to touch. Sometimes it radiates a few inches in diameter but mostly I can feel it if I rub my Sternum right in middle about three inches or so down from throat. They did an EKG to rule out cardiac and thought it may be related to acid reflux. I had a follow-up on 06/23 with pcp and he took a chest x-ray (clean), said to continue on Prilosec. On 07/16 I had sore throat, ear ache, as well as continuing burning or tenderness right on middle of sternum and extended a little bit out to left of chest. The nurse gave me Keflex (generic) and told me to follow up with pcp. I went to my PCP and he examined me again and felt the areas I indicated I had pain. He said he originally thought it was due to Acid Reflux but thought we should go to other end of spectrum and treat as musculoskeletal (COSTOCHONDRITIS). Take 2 Aleve twice a day for 10 days and follow-up. He told me to discontinue the Keflex as he didn’t see it as a skin infection condition. I forgot to mention to him I had a weird taste in my mouth a few days after taking the antibiotic and hoping it goes away in few days. I also mentioned I am getting extreme Anxiety over this and thinking the worst like cancer. He told me with my age it is unlikely and anything causing this type of pain would show up in the chest X-Ray. Does it sound reasonable to let it go another 10 days for improvement and could be costochondritis? Does that condition typically have a burning feeling and sore to touch right in center of sternum? I think I have had a lot of anxiety over the past few months and wondering if that could be the cause of this all. Thanks!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi RKJ

      Given your age and the fact that the EKG was clear, it is advisable to wait for those 10 days to see if it is due to constochonditis or some other musculoskeletal condition and if it will resolve with this current course of treatment. Chest pain is a common symptom in a person who suffers with anxiety and in this instance it is usually not due to any underlying disease.

      It may also be worthwhile having a complete cardiovascular examination an you will need to see a cardiologist for this. An angiogram would assist with identifying any coronary artery disease which may still be in the early stages The cardiologist will also investigate for any rheumatic heart disease which may affect the valves later in life although it was due to an infection in early life. I am just giving you possibilities and there is no way to know for sure without these tests.

      Also remember that acid reflux is more common when anxious and does always settle immediately with medication. You may have to see a gastroenterologist to exclude/confirm that this pain may be due to gastrointestinal causes. The fact that the pain gets worse upon applying pressure on the chest does indicate that it is more likely due to a chest wall problem but once again, this needs to be investigated and more serious causes need to be excluded.

  • sam

    Hello, I am 19 years old and have been experiencing sharp pain in the center just below my breasts. At times the pain is so bad that I can’t even get out of bed. The pain keeps me from sleeping and usually gets worse on an empty stomach. The pain usually comes and goes but when I experience he pain it usually lasts from one to five days. I have been experiencing this sharp pain for six weeks now and was wondering if this could be more than costochondritis?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Sam

      Costochondritis is a possibility but given that the pain gets worse on an empty stomach, it is more likely to be due to a peptic ulcer and/or acid reflux. You should speak to your doctor about it and take note if antacids seem to settle the pain. Given you age, a heart condition is less likely but this should not be ruled out as a possibility.

  • Kaycee

    I am a 25 year old female smoker. I started working out 3 days ago, pretty intense but nothing too extreme. However, the 2nd day of my workouts, around mid afternoon I started feeling pain in my sternum when I breathe deep. It only has pain when I breathe in really deep or cough but now the left side of my neck/throat hurt. Like something is stuck really low when I swallow. Its rather painful…could I have just strained something?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kaycee

      It’s very possible that muscle strain has caused this given that you just started working out. You could have also strained the cartilage/joints that connect the ribs to the breastbone but the pain should not be extending so high. You also have to take note of any lymph node swelling in the neck. This may be due to an infection that is about to start. You should see your doctor to exclude more serious causes, especially since you are a smoker and have put yourself under physical strain recently.

  • Nancy

    Hi! I’m a 19 year old female, and within the past two days I’ve had some pain the the left side of my sternum in the manubrium area. It mostly hurts when I touch it and sometimes i need to take deep breaths to relax the tension after having touched it. The pain is more bruised than sharp. I’ve never had any major health issues before. Around the area i have two pimples if that means anything at all? They only showed up in the past week. I don’t know if that’s related or not. Also, I’ve had difficulty getting to sleep at night. I’m not sure if this is anxiety related or anything serious. I’d appreciate your input! Thank you!!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Nancy

      Since the pain occurs mostly when you touch the area, it is more likely that this is due to the chest wall (skin, muscles, bone) A bruised sensation usually indicates injury to the area or muscle strain. It could also be related to costochondritis. Anxiety may be responsible but in this case, you would be feeling the pain more frequently and there should be no significant difference upon applying pressure to the area.

      These pimples could have causes some underlying inflammation of the deeper layer of the skin (dermis) so it could be causing the bruised sensation. Hormonal fluctuations during your cycle could also be responsible especially if there is slight swelling of the breasts. As you can see, there are many possibilities. It is advisable to see a doctor if it is persisting or recurring frequently. Any other signs or symptoms like dizziness or shortness of breath should prompt immediate medical attention.

  • kelly

    I have been having a pain in my sternum for a couple of months now ( i had a baby 4 months ago i am not breastfeeding )It feels as if the bone is bruised and tight. I doesn’t generally bother me until i make a sharp movement, stretch or lay down from a sat upright position.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kelly

      Four months is not a long time and your body is still recovering from childbirth. A bruised sensation usually indicates that it may be muscular in origin or even related to the cartilage joining the ribs to the sternum. Furthermore, you rectus abdominis muscle which is one of the abdominal muscles being worked out by your sit-ups may also be causing this pain. I would advise that you stop your sit-ups for a week or so and check if the pain subsides. The sit-ups may not be the cause but it could be the aggravating factor here. It is advisable to see a doctor immediately, even if the pain is not severe.

  • kelly

    Can i add that i am 29 and only social smoke (around 5 cigarettes per week) i dont work out but do about 60 sit ups 4 times a week – this has started to hurt a little in my sternum but i don’t believe this is what caused it.

  • jane

    Hi, my mother and I both have sternums that ‘pop out’ (I guess slightly dislocate) rarely, sometimes mildly and sometimes quite painfully and needing the help of a physiotherapist to fix it up.
    Do you know what this condition is called?


    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Jane

      It may be costochondritis although this does not usually occur in families as you are indicating. It may be wise to consider other conditions that could be inherited like arthritis.

  • John Blackburn

    hi, I am 16 years old and am experiencing horrible pain right in the center of my breastbone. At first it wasn’t so bad [about 2 weeks ago] and I just assumed it was growing pain but after surfing a couple of times it got a lot worse. It only hurts with certain arm movements and when I take a deep breath, and when I wake up it hurts so much to move that I struggle to get out of bed, embarrassingly haha. My aunt thinks I have a fracture but I haven’t smashed chest or anything? Thanks, John.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi John Blackburn

      Costochondritis (mentioned above) is more often seen in teens. A lot of it has to do with the activity levels of your age group couple with changes associated with growth. However, it could be due to an injury which you may not recall. The fact that pain is so severe that it is affecting your daily functioning is a cause for concern and you should see you doctor and have a chest x-ray.

      It could also be due to other problems on the chest wall – the muscles, bones, nerves, skin, etc. – but only your doctor can assess this. The fact that it only hurts with certain arm movements does indicate that it is more likely a problem with the chest wall rather than internal structures within the chest cavity but this still has to be investigated and excluded. See your doctor – it may be minor but it should be assessed by a medical professional. In case it is associated with any muscle “tear” or minor fractures, it is advisable to limit the range of motion of your arm, especially if you are carrying any heavy weight.

  • John


    I recently tried cliff jumping into waters at a height of 45 feet; while I landed perpendicular to the water, my arms were forced upward upon impact and I felt some sudden sharp pain in the center of my ribcage or sternum. The pain is not prevalent unless I:

    a.) Put pressure on the spot

    b.) Lie down or bend chest

    c.) Exert any muscles surrounding the area

    I’m wondering if I may have broken or fractured the area, or if I have some other problem. I just want to make sure I don’t do anything that would further discomfort or hinder the healing process. Also I would like to know what I should be doing to promote healing and how long I should expect the wound to stick around.

    Thank You

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi John

      In all likelihood, it is most likely related to muscles, particularly the pectoral muscles, tendon (strain) or a ligament (sprain). It cannot be conclusively excluded that there are minor bone fractures or that the costochondral joints. A chest x-ray is definitely recommended and your doctor may also consider other tests for chest pain. You should try to immobilize the area until you can see a doctor to reduce the chances of any complications from the injuries you have sustained. Don’t ignore the pain, you should seek medical attention because the impact associated with any fall that is more than 10 feet (even if it is water) can be far reaching.

  • Mallory

    I’m a 15 yr old female and I have pain under what I think is my sternum. It’s between my collarbone and cleavage, right in the middle. It shoots through all the way to my back. I’ve had this before, but it never lasts more then a few hours. This time, it’s been on and off for about 5 days, and it’s gotten much worse to the point where I can’t move much. I’ve tried breathing deeply (which hurts) and stretching it, but nothing is offering relief. Can you offer advice? Oh, I’m a cancer survivor but I doubt that has anything to do with it. Thanks.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mallory

      Tietze’s syndrome which involves the joint between the ribs and sternum is a common cause of this type of chest pain in young girls. If stretching is also a problem, it can be due to the pectoral muscles. This plays an important role in arm movement and also function as accessory respiration muscles upon deep breathing. Your doctor will have to do an x-ray and any other relevant test to identify the cause of the problem. The pain could also be due to the internal structures within the chest cavity but since there are no other significant symptoms as yet, there is no way of identifying this online. I would advise that you do not leave it and see your doctor as soon as possible. The cause may not be anything serious but this has to be investigated.

  • Heather

    Hi there,
    I’m a 26 year old female, I lift weights 3-4 times a week at the gym, but my work is sedentary (sit at a computer 8 hours a day). For the past 2 years I have been having pain (feels like in my sternum). It typically only hurts when I get up from a laying position or bend-over movement. I initially thought i hurt it doing bench press, but now it’s been almost 3 years and the pain is off and on. What do you think it is? I was recently also diagnosed with H Pylori and put on medication, which seemed to help and I am still on Pantoprazole (to reduce stomach acids). This is causing some acid-reflux which also mimics my chest pain. I am going back to the doctor to be retesed for the levels of h pylori again. Thanks for the help, and advise would be great.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Heather

      You should differentiate musculoskeletal pain from that due to the gastritis/reflux. The latter will may need antibiotics along with a PPI to be treated.

      In terms of chest pain, there may be many causes but since you have mentioned your active lifestyle, it is possible that it is related to your weight lifting. Bench pressing does strain the joint between the breastbone and ribs. Furthermore, the pectoral muscles may also be strained.

      You should try to stop the bench pressing for a while to see if it settles. You can still continue with other exercises as long as it is not weight bearing, especially on the arms and upper body in general. One of the causes of chest pain when leaning forward is due to pericarditis but this cannot be diagnosed without seeing a doctor and possibly going for further investigations.

      In all likelihood, you complaint seems to be musculoskeletal but nevertheless you should speak to your doctor about it. Remember that there are many other causes of chest pain and even though you are young and active, it is still a possibility. Your doctor will only be able to isolate these possible causes after the proper chest pain tests.

  • Bill

    I am 59 years old I get severe pain at the center of my chest. it last for 1.5 to 2 minutes and leaves for 3 to 15 minutes. And then comes back severe for 1.5 to 2 min and will do this for 10 to 15 times and then will go away for hours or all day. It mostly happens in the morning around 5 to 7;00 AM and around 7:00 to 9:00 PM some time at other times. I have been to ER twice and test on everything from Heart to gallbladder. Small gasteric ulcer was found and I started proton pump inhibitor and strick diet. It has been 8 weeks and I get the same pain with nothing defferent. Nothing I eat or due changes the symptoms. please give opinion.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Bill

      Given your age, cardiac and respiratory conditions must always be excluded. Even if it was all clear, subsequent tests and a consultation with a cardiologist is always recommended. Your symptoms seem to very specific in terms of time but you do not mention any individual factors, like lying flat, eating, etc, that may be the actual trigger. Acid reflux also needs to be excluded as a possible cause.

      It is important to note that the nature of the pain, in terms of its time and duration, may mean that it is related to gut motility. These peristaltic waves which are responsible for moving food through the gut tend to last for 1 to 3 minutes before a new wave commences. This could be related to IBS and I would advise that you speak to your doctor about seeing a gastroenterologist. Please note that this is not a conclusive diagnosis. It is just a something that could be considered.

      I would advise that you read the following articles on intestinal motility and colonic motility for further clarity. With IBS or spastic colon, these muscle contractions are so intense that they can cause pain to surrounding areas, even as high up as the chest.

  • Bill

    Sorry for got to say I have tried all types of antiacids with no help. Does not change with excerise. The xiphoid get sore only when the pain is happening.
    Know one seems to have this same symptoms.

  • Alex

    Hi about 1 year ago I was doing the bench press and heard a very small click come from where my sternum meets my rib on the upper right side. If I replicate this movement with my arms I can hear a just audible click which brings on the pain also touching the area is tender. After 1 year the pain seems to settle down (although not 100%) but it comes back if I try using weights or lifting anything heavy or try pushups.
    Will this ever go away as its been 1 year so far and im starting to feel very depressed. Thankyou

  • Alex

    Can I just add that im 28 years old and male. Stupidly I was bouncing the bar off my chest. The clicking noise isnt a loud pop as some suggest (only I can hear it).

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Alex

      Hopefully this is a joint problem in terms of the joint between the rib and sternum or among the parts of the sternum. Bouncing the bar off your chest could have caused a fracture but this requires an x-ray. You need to see your doctor. If it is just your joint, a course of anti-inflammatory drugs and/or steroids may help. The fact that it has been persisting for so long could lead to other complications so it is best not to ignore it.

  • Lin

    Hi my name is linda, i experience breast bone pain, it started along time ago i just did not know what it was, maybe because it comes and goes and now i am feelin the pain. sometimes i feel the pain when i breathe in, sometimes it is accompained with a terrible headache. in such cases the headache starts and then the pain follows. I dont know what it is, can you help please.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Lin

      There are many possibilities. It could be related to the chest wall – muscles, bone or costal cartilages and joints. Chest wall causes would result in pain upon breathing but does not fully explain the headache component.

      The you have to consider the internal structures within the chest cavity. The trachea (windpipe), esophagus (food pipe), heart and a portion of the major blood vessels lie behind the breastbone. There area number of conditions that could be related to these organs that may be causing the pain. In addition, some may also be responsible for a headache.

      You should see a doctor who will take into consideration your medical history and conduct the necessary investigations to diagnose the possible cause.

  • Alex

    Thankyou for the reply

    Can I just ask what complications you mean? Also I have had a chest xray and nothing showed would you recommend me having a ct scan to pick up a fracture of the cartilage? A specialist is going to perform a steriod injection into the area could this speed the recovery?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Alex

      Long term complications of an untreated fracture can lead to chronic pain and deformity of the bone. A chest x-ray should be sufficient unless there is persistent swelling of the area. The cartilage may be inflamed or slightly dislocated from its articulation with the rib or sternum. Considering that this problem has occurred such a long time ago, anti-inflammatory drugs may not be extremely effective. A corticosteroid injection is the way to go and may help reduce the inflammation in the area. Recover depends on whether the problem is corrected and the area immobilized so that it can be given a chance to heal. Discuss this with your doctor as he/she will be aware of your medical history.

  • Lin

    Thank you Dr. Chris…will do just that.

  • Luckyd245

    I have a slight not so much bad pain in theleft breatplate/sturnam area. From the last5-6 days yawn alot.What is the cause of that?And wha do i do if any to correct it?Sometimes its not as bad as other days but still the yawning is somthing i need to ask about?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Luckyd

      Excessive yawning may be due to a number of reasons including fatigue, excessive daytime sleepiness (which is due to a host of causes as well) and sometimes as a result of certain cardiovascular conditions. You should see a doctor about it, especially since you are experiencing left sided chest pain. A cardiac problem is a possible cause.

  • Alex

    Dr. Chris
    Thanks again.I will have an mri scan to rule out any fracture in the area.
    When you say immobilise the area do you mean bed rest or some kind of rib brace and continue with light excersise?
    Im still very unsure about having the steriod injection as I dont want temporary relief.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Alex

      The steroid injection may go beyond temporary relief. By reducing inflammation, it may allow the area to heal.

      Some patients do use a brace to immobilize the area while others may tightly bandage the area with cloth/crepe bandages. I would not recommend the latter. Avoid exercise altogether but bed rest may not be necessary. It depends entirely on the individual case and only your doctor can advise you on what will be best for your situation.

  • Alex

    Thanks youve gone way beyond what the doctor has advised me or anybody else for that matter. I will go ahead with the injection just for the chance it might spur it on to heal. The only excersise I do is a tiny bit of gentle jogging up the stairs.
    I have to drive on the odd occasion with a brace I hope this will not hinder the healing process?
    Thanks again Dr. Chris your words have given me a bit of hope and direction to try and beat this.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Alex

      It is difficult to say whether it will hinder the healing process without knowing your individual case. Please speak to your doctor about it.

      A CT scan and MRI are both effective diagnostic tools. An MRI is a better method for soft tissue injury but neither you nor your doctor should decide upon this. The final decision should lie with a radiologist who is better equipped to decide upon the best diagnostic tool since they are specialists in the field and are up to date on the latest developments.

      Take care and good luck.

  • Alex

    Last question Dr. Chris. What would be the best scan for seeing the cartilge a ct scan or an mri there is the option of either. Thanks Again!

  • Luckyd245

    Thanks for the info but it not a full time left side painit more to the left notover the heart side.Most it sounds like what you are talking about fatige or sleepiness in day time…I run alot in and about myselfhlaf the time it feels like gas or acid reflux somthing like that .Ive not had any hreart problemsnor any of the symptems of any cardeac prob at all.Just more less tired most the times.Thanks again for the info and time.

  • jcv5021

    Hi Doctor Chris,

    For the past few days I have had a pain right below my sternum. It feels like a bruise when I touch it but there is no mark. Even though this is a very vague description, do you know what it may be?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi JCV5021

      Yes, that is vague. A bruised feeling may indicate a muscular condition – below the sternum (or did you mean under) could possibly be related to your abdominal muscles as well. Remember that your stomach and colon is in this area as well so it could also be related to conditions of these organs. See your doctor even if it seems minor. Take note of any events that may have preceded the pain and any aggravating or ameliorating factors. This may assist your doctor with deciding upon further investigations and reaching a final diagnosis.

  • happipeeple56

    Hi, I,m 47 yrs old i had a sharp pain under my breast, upper rib on the left side. It lasted for about 2to3 seconds and about 4hrs later i had 2 mild one that lasted about 3 seconds they were about 3hrs apart. I don’t drink or smoke i don’t have shortness of breathe I am rather busty if that have anything to do with and i do have panic and anxiety attacks when i think of my chest hurting i can feel one comming on i’m not on medication or anything. So im just curious to know what this maybe my daughter is 23 she has the same symptoms has me such pain under the left breast so please give us some kind of answer. Oh yes i planned to go to the doctor next week for a physical, because i have been extremely stressed for the last 6 mos

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Happipeeple56

      Given your age, I would advise that you see your doctor to exclude cardiac symptoms like angina. You can read this article on Angina Pain.

      It may be related to anxiety and palpitations as well but given your age, first exclude more serious causes and then you can focus on less life-threatening conditions. It may also be related to the chest wall but given the very short episodes, this is less likely.

      Don’t try to draw comparisons with your daughter’s ailment and then ignore it if her condition is not as serious. Your age and you as an individual means that this could be related to more serious conditions that are uncommon in your daughter’s age group, even though the symptoms are very similar.

  • Vinay

    Dear Doctor,
    I am having pain in Manubrium, when I wake up or when I expand, it will pain for me. what should I do for this and what happened to me.
    Thanks & Regards,

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Vinay

      Cannot tell you what has happened or what is causing this. You need to see a doctor. It could be related to the chest wall (skin, muscle, tendons, nerves, cartilage or bone). It could also be related to the organs within the chest cavity. The information you have provided is too limited. I would advise that you speak to a doctor. You may need to undergo further investigation like an x-ray.

  • Vinay

    Dear Doctor,

    Sorry for not mentioning the age of mine. I am 25.

    Many Thanks,

  • Vinay

    Dear Dr.Chris,

    Thanks for the advice. Will definitely consult doctor.


  • Fleur

    I have been getting pain in my sternum and a crushing feeling in my chest as well as being breathless for about 3 weeks now, the pain is only in the centre of my sternum and does not go anywhere else. Also if I eat a solid meal I immediately vomit it back up again. I have had an ECG, which was ok, I have also had blood tests, which again were normal. I have had a chest x-ray but don’t know the result yet. My sternum isnt tender to touch. My GP has said he thinks it is Tietze syndrome, do you agree or could it be something else.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Fleur

      I don’t know you age, medical history and so on, so I cannot answer this with any certainty. The worrying points is the “crushing” centrally located chest pain with breathlessness. You should read this article on Cardiac vs Non Cardiac Chest Pain. Yes, your pain could be due to GERD or even Tietze’s and present in this manner but a cardiac cause is always a concern. If you have not already done so, you need a STRESS ECG (or exercise ECG). An angiogram may also be advisable if you are a high risk patient. There are other possible causes which have been discussed under Pain in the Center of the Chest.

  • Kim

    Hello. I’m a 23 year old female and I wanted to know what I should do. I never go tothe doctor unless absolutely neccissary. In july, I had pneumonia and bronchitis. That went away within 3 weeksand haven’t had any problems since. in the past month, I had experienced a bring me to my knees pain on my sternum. Ever since that day its been frequent dull pain. Almost burning. I do smoke (5 years). Also I had noticed my breasts have enlarged 2 cup sizes since september. Which to me is highlu unusual. Its hard to swallow sometimes, and I get shortness of breath other times. My breasts itself hurts to the touch as well. Wondering if you had any further information on what could be the cause of the pain in my sternum, or if you think I need to schedule a doctors appt right away. Thank you!

  • Kim

    Hello. I’m a 23 year old female and I wanted to know what I should do. I never go tothe doctor unless absolutely neccessary. In July, I had pneumonia and bronchitis. That went away within 3 weeks and haven’t had any problems since. In the past month, I had experienced a bring me to my knees pain involving my sternum. Ever since that day its been frequent dull pain. Almost burning. I do smoke (5 years). Also I had noticed my breasts have enlarged 2 cup sizes since August, which to me is highly unusual. Its hard to swallow sometimes, and I get shortness of breath other times. My breasts itself hurts to the touch as well. Wondering if you had any further information on what could be the cause of the pain in my sternum, or if you think I need to schedule a doctors appt right away. Thank you!

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kim

      SCHEDULE A DOCTOR’S APPOINTMENT IMMEDIATELY. If you can afford to do so, see a pulmonologist. Bronchitis often follows a viral infection like the flu, especially in smokers, but the presence of pneumonia is a worry. It can cause severe (sometimes permanent) damage to the lungs if it was not treated properly at the time. Of course, it is possible that your symptoms (breast, chest pain, breathing, etc) are unrelated or due to a cause that is not very serious and easily treated but there is no way of knowing this without proper investigation. See you doctor immediately.

  • Mary

    Hi I am a fit 39 yr old female. When hiking last week ( 8d ago) I slipped and fell whilst going downhill, I fell on my buttocks and at the time I felt a sharp pain between my shoulderblades and also at the front of my chest and sternum. The pain then subsides and for the next few days I felt a bit stiff but without major pain. Then 3 days ago the pain acutely worsened particularly sternum pain and right in between my shoulderblades on my upper back. Lying down and moving when lying is particularly painful as the chest and sternum pain worsens, sneezing and coughing is agony, I have started to take AI’s and painkillers and have seen my GP who said I am just bruised and the pain is only muscular, The medication I am taking make the pain only just bearable. Is it normal for the pain to worsen to such a degree after injury? Would an osteopathy appointment be helpful? Many thanks

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mary

      Yes, it is not uncommon for this to occur and in is most likely muscular in nature. However, just to be sure, you should consider having a chest x-ray. Osteopathic treatment may be helpful but now is not the time to consider it. First speak to your doctor and only if he gives you approval, then consult with your osteopath.

  • Prasad

    iam 33 years old ,i got mild pain just below the rigt side brest ,i just want to know wht is the reson


    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Prasad

      There are a number of possibilities. Pain on its own does not say much. Other symptoms that you are experiencing need to be mentioned in order to try to guide you accordingly. If pain is the only problem that you are experiencing then your doctor will need to undertake further investigation to identify a cause. Breathing problems or a cough with pain may be indicative of respiratory condition. Changes in bowel movement, nausea and so on may be a sign of a liver disorder. The list goes on. See a doctor.

  • Magynn

    I’ve been having pain in breast bone, just above my right breast for almost 24 hours. It’s a dull pain, and feels like a bruise. I really only hurts when I take deep breaths, or if I sit down or stand up.
    What could this mean?


    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Magynn

      If it started suddenly, it could be related to some injury or an infection of the trachea (tracheitis) or bronchus (bronchitis). Depending on your age, cardiovascular conditions may also be suspected. It is difficult to say what it could be without other signs and symptoms present but if you are over 40 years, have a history of cardiovascular conditions, have a fever, experiencing shortness of breath or dizziness, then you should go to the emergency room. Else see a doctor as soon as possible. It could be as mild as a case of acid reflux but you cannot know for sure until a further clinical evaluation is completed.

  • Dylan

    Im a 34 year old male who has had sternum pain on and off for quite a number of years. It has come back and stayed with me for around 2 months now. it can be very tender to touch and it often worse when i am looking down or looking up to the sky, it feels as though there is a pulling sensation, sometimes it gets so tight and painful that i crack it as i would my fingers and this relieves teh pain for a while.

    Anyway i recently visited the doctor and had a chest xray done, the results came back as no fracture of teh sternum, no boney destruction but that there was a substernal swelling of teh upper sternum, they have suggested that i get a CATscan and blood tests done… what would they be checking for in the CAT scan, they obviously think it is more than muscle damage if they are doing further tests?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Dylan

      It could be related to the ligaments or tendons of the muscle. Scarring and calcification of these structures may make the area more sensitive and also tighten the movement of muscles as well as reduce the flexibility of this area. However it is difficult to say conclusively because even though you were told that there was no abnormality, you doctor or radiologist may have seen some feature which they believe is worth investigating further before they can give you any conclusive answer. Direct your questions to them because they know your case. Rather wait and do the tests before trying to investigate what may be wrong and so on as it may spare you significant worry since it could be nothing serious.

  • Mark

    Hi, I have this sternum pain last 3 days ago after I woke up in the morning and everytime I press my sternum I feel the pain or sometimes in late midnight I feel it, ‘m not experiencing any difficulties in breathing when I feel the pain in my sternum and maybe I think its cause is the way I sleep at night or stress. I dont eat cholesterol,fatty foods. I love eating fruits and vegetables, exercise like playing basketball. I’m afraid to consult to a doctor because of fear that I might have a heart condition. I’m not in denial stage but I know actually what I’m eating, doing. I need your advice regarding this matter and a conclusion maybe the cause of this pain. Thanks

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Mark

      It is difficult to isolate the cause. Irrespective of your diet and healthy lifestyle, a heart condition is still a possibility. You should see a doctor about it because delaying may cause further problems and lead to complications that could be life threatening. Generally a pain which is worse upon applying pressure indicates a problem with the chest wall – skin, muscles, bones or cartilage and joints. However, it could also be related to you heart (despite the lack of shortness of breath) or even acid reflux (GERD). There is no way of knowing for sure without further investigation.

  • shkyerhipps


    I’m a 21 year old female and I’ve been having really bad pains in my breast bone area for over a week now. It started the day after alcohol consumption, and was very severe the day after, was painful to move and to touch it. It got better a few days after however it was still tender to touch and move at times. Beginning yesterday I thought it was better as it no longer hurt to touch, however I just did sit ups and the pain came back and was extremely painful to the point I had to stop after to as it hurt in the breast bone area. Now it is tender to touch again or put any strenuous activity involving lying or moving to my side. Any idea what this could be?

  • pavan

    i m having a pain near leftside of breast .because i slept improperly on bed…….i m having pain on leftside back of my joint ….i m very tensed can u suggest me …..wht to do

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Pavan

      You have to first be sure that it was due to your sleeping position. Although this may have aggravated the pain, the cause could be related to some other underlying condition, especially of the chest wall. There is no way of suggesting any measures that you should take without knowing for sure. See your doctor as soon as possible.

  • Colin

    Hi Dr Chris,
    I am a 21 year old man and woke up with pain in the sternum. It’s very sore to press down on and certain movements make shooting pains around my back and chest. It’s definitely a bone or muscle pain or even a nerve. I’ve been recently doing a training program with weights and I’m on my 4th week and just increased the load two days ago. I’m quite concerned as I really want to keep my program going but feel this will prevent me from doing so. Is there any stretches to do relieve the pain a bit? Thanks for your time!

    • Dr. Chris

      HI Colin

      From what you say, it seems to be related to strain on the chest wall – muscle, ligaments or even the costal cartilages. Rest is important to allow the area to recover. You should see a physical therapist as well. There are two important points to take note of here in terms of future training :
      1. Stretch appropriately before working out. Speak to a fitness trainer or another experienced weight lifter in your gym. Gradually work up the weights on each session and don’t start with extremely heavy loads.
      2. There is a limit to the “no pain, no gain” motto. You should not be experiencing pain per se on heavier weights but rather some strain. If it is paining, STOP. You cannot build up your muscles in a day. Work up your weights slowly.

      I would advise that you seek medical attention though because it could be related to a more serious condition beyond what was discussed here.

  • chris995

    Hi there, im a 29yr old male ex smoker for about 10yrs. for the last 3 days i have had a dull pain to the left side of my breast bone. the pain is present only when i stretch or arch my back or sometimes bending down. it would be inbetween my left nipple and the centre of my chest. i have feel asleep in the sofa a few nights prior to this happening so im not sure if this was the cause. i did for a few days have the same pain when burping but it doesnt happen anymore. tired taking ibruphen today but no avail. thanks for any help.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Chris995

      It could be muscle strain or irritation of the costal cartilages and related joints. Sleeping in an awkward position could be the cause. You would experience tenderness upon applying firm pressure on the area if it is related to the chest wall. Ibuprofen should have helped as well. If it persists past a few days then you should see your doctor as it could be related to some other condition. Another possibility is that it is linked to one of the structures of the abdominal cavity depending on how low down the breastbone it is occurring. Remember that the stomach, liver, etc slip under the ribcage especially when lying flat and irritation of these organs would not respond to ibuprofen.

  • Marie

    Hi, I’m not particularly worried, just medically curious as to why my sternum hurts after a big stretch. There’s no clicking or popping that others usually say there is, it just feels like someone slammed me in the middle of my chest after I’ve stretched. It goes away after a few minutes and doesn’t present itself after any other activity (other than after stretching my upper back).

    I’m probably just putting stress on the joints, but I’d like your opinion. I’m 18 and have had no other injuries to the area or to my ribs (although I did fall up the stairs recently and slam my chest pretty hard). Since it’s definitely bone pain, I’m not worried about my heart or anything else.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Maries

      Yes, it possible that it is just some strain on the joints although you could ave a mild case of costochondritis or even Tietze’s syndrome which is not as acute and presenting with additional symptoms like popping. A lot also depends on your posture – if you slouch a lot then your pectoral muscles will be strained upon stretching and this can cause some discomfort. The same applies for the joints.

      However, the fact that you did have an injury recently is a cause for concern and you may have splinter fractures of the breast bone. You need to see a doctor and have a chest x-ray. Another possibility is that this pain is not related to the chest wall but rather due to organs in the chest cavity. Of course many of these are not common in your age group but is nevertheless a possibility.You need to be evaluated by a doctor as soon as possible before this progresses further.

  • Ashley

    Hi, I am a 23 year old female that started experiencing burning in my left breast bone just left of my xiphoid process. I first noticed it came on when bending over as if pickup something up off the floor (several months ago). It has gradually gotten worse, to where it will burn when applying pressure, and now happens at rest, when in bed (especially when lying on my left side. It is localized, does not spread, just burns very badly. The burning last a about a minute and then subsides but leaves a “hot” and “numb” feeling at the sime time and that also subsides within minutes. I have researched a little online. Is it possible I have a hiatal hernia? What are other possibilites? Should I seek medical attention? I do not smoke, have moderate stress and weigh around 130 lbs.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Ashley

      A hiatal hernia is a possibility but so it gastritis and peptic ulcers (duodenal is likely in your case). Disorders in the chest cavity cannot be excluded just yet. You should see a doctor on the off chance that other conditions like pancreatitis of bile duct stones are present, of course this would cause more intense symptoms. You need to verify whether this is related to meals and then you can be more certain of whether it is gastrointestinal in origin.

      Yes, you should seek medical attention. The first episode had months ago and even if you were symptom free until now, the condition may have been progressing silently in all this time. While your age group is often not seen as high risk for very serious GI conditions, it cannot be ruled out until you have the necessary tests. Delaying any further could mean that the condition has progressed significantly and will lead to complications.

  • slu2014

    Hi, I am 20 years old, in good shape and don’t smoke or anything like that. I work out alot, which may be the cause of my pain but I’ve been weightlifting since I was ~17 and it’s never hurt before. The pain is acute, and it feels like im being stabbed just to the right of the body of my sternum. I think it’s where the pectoral muscle originates. It’s happened twice now in the past 3 months. It is really sharp, but it dulls off and lasts for a few hours. It’s not a heart issue, because it’s on the right side im assuming. Should i be concerned?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Slu2014

      Cardiac pain can be experienced on the right although its rare. Also in your age, cardiac conditions are not frequently seen where it is intense enough to cause pain. However, if you have been using anabolic steroids then it is a possibility that this is cardiac in origin. Yes, this type of chest wall pain is seen in weightlifters and is often due to muscle strain or injury to the tendon or ligaments. Costochondritis is also a possibility because these joints absorb a lot of pressure during weight lifting. Ideally you should stop working out and see if the pain eases after a few days but rather see a doctor as soon as possible and rule out other serious conditions even though you are not in a high risk group.

  • Patmo1

    Hello Dr. Chris,

    I am a female in my 40s, excellent health, family history of lung issues, non-smoker (but raised in household of smokers). For the last few weeks, I have had pain under my sternum. It’s constantly there, does not seem to get better or worse no matter what I do. It is a dull pain, feels like a severe bruise.

    I should note that about a month ago, I had a severe respiratory issue. Since I was not sure if it was allergy-related, I did not get it treated. It eventually went away. This was my second severe respiratory incident in the last year. I have been tested for asthma (negative) and a chest x-ray last year did not show anything. (I was not having the pain under my sternum then, though.)

    Do you think the sternum pain is related to my respiratory issues, and should I be concerned?

    Thank you.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Patmo1

      Yes, this type of pain could definitely be due to a respiratory disorder and should be investigated. Of course there are other causes of sternal pain as mentioned above but given you history, it would be a good idea to exclude a number of respiratory conditions. Speak to your doctor and try to get a referral to a pulmonologist (pulmonary specialist).

  • JohnyD


    I’m 31 , male.
    I had a chest injury in 1998 by doing a backbend(bend backwards to put palm of hands on wall). At the instand my sternum also alittle to the right felt extreme pain. I knew i was injured.
    Then it settled.

    Over the years i learned that that injury left me with symptoms. Stabbing pain in center of chest and bit to the right too. IN other words, just where i got injured.

    But i noticed that only happens if i try to do pushups or try to do fast boxing or do any fast movement with my upper body.

    So i haven’t gotten hurt in a long time because i know what triggers the pain and i avoid it.

    However, 1.5 weeks ago, i started getting another chest pain and it’s bad to the point i can’t even lay down to sleep.

    I don’t think it’s related to my old injury but i don’t know.

    I started noticing this when one time i woke up from sleep…my right chest poppped. and i was scared but managed to calm myself. Then somehow i went back to sleep but i noticed that i couldn’t lay down because i would have pain and more popping stretching of the chest.

    Anyways, i managed to get over that day. then during the day i was having stabbing pain with any little movement in the chest. THIS PAIN DID NOT FEEL THE SAME as the pain i get from my old injury.

    So i started feeling sore and crampy during the day and again when went back to sleep..woke up and again my chest started to pull itself and then POP a sensation of my chest muscle popping/tearing.

    Anyways, now I’m up to about 1.5 weeks after and i still have problems laying down to sleep and i wake up with pain. And i have sharp pain in center of upper chest(sternum)if i do a sudden(even if tiny) movement with my upper body.

    Its really painful. what can this be?
    I went to a dr that said it might be Costochondritis but I’ve read about that condition and it says there’s localized tenderness and you can reproduce the pain by touching. BUT in my case that doesn’t happen .there’s no pain by touching.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Johny D

      Yes, it does sound like costochondritis but tenderness upon applying pressure may be present only in the acute stages. You ignored the initial injury, which may be the cause, and the years of inflammation could have led to complications which you are experiencing now. You may therefore not respond to the treatment that is commonly prescribed or only find relief with corticosteroid injections. You should speak to your doctor again about this and possibly get a referral to an orthopedic specialist (orthopedist) who can assess you further and decide on the course of treatment.

  • ManonL

    I am 26 years old woman. I have had 2 children, and one most recently, 2 months ago.
    After breastfeeding my daughter laying on my side in our bed, I finish off and roll over onto my back. I suddenly experienced a very sharp stabbing pain in my sternum area, maybe a little bit lower. Something I have never felt before. It very much feels compressed, and no matter what position I take, it stays for a few minutes. I drank a cold glass of water, and it went away after few minutes, only to be taken off again for another bunch of minutes. It’s a pain I could point out, like at 1 spot. It’s scaring me, please help?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi ManonL

      Chest and upper abdominal pains are not uncommon in breastfeeding women. When feeding, always try to sit up and assume a position that is comfortable both for you and baby. This will help prevent muscle and joint strain and allows baby to feed better with less air swallowing and so on. In this case it has to be assessed whether this could be related to mastitis – a breast infection that is common in breastfeeding women. Another possibility is that you condition is gastrointestinal – conditions like a hiatal hernia can cause pain in this area. You should see a doctor who can further assess your condition and make a final diagnosis.

  • Nick

    Hello Dr. Chris,
    I am a 27 yr old fit male in the Marine Corps. I have been having some severe pains directly in the body of the sternum and feels like it ends at the joint to the xiphoid process. I’ve never had any severe injuries other than 23 kidney stones. Yet I have not felt this pain since I was 16 and always just believed it was growing pains. It’s close to Christmas and got a lot going on, so I thought maybe stress, but, I’m not the stressful type of person. A few months ago, I was really stressed out and did not have these symptoms. If anything I’m excited for the holidays this year because I get to go home and see family. So I’m lost as to what could be causing my pain. It’s not internal or organ pain, I’ve felt that before. It just feels like somebody took a hammer and whapped me directly in the center of the body of the sternum. It does get sore when taking deep breathes but only because it is getting stretched out. No issues with actually breathing. No other pains or bumps bruises, prior related injuries. Thank you Sir, Merry Christmas and Happy New Years.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Nick

      It’s quite possible that it is muscular in origin. Fitness and regular exercise in your line of work is necessary and you could have strained the muscle. Of course conditions like a hiatal hernia also need to be excluded. Given the lack of other symptoms, its difficult to ascertain a possible cause without further investigation, either to confirm conditions that your doctor suspects or exclude possible causes one-by-one. I would advise that you also read these articles on :
      Central Chest Pain
      Upper Middle Abdominal Pain
      If you have not been seeing a doctor, I would advise you do so as soon as possible and return for follow-up consultations until a possible cause can be identified. Also remember that many gastrointestinal conditions like acid reflux, peptic ulcer and gastritis may not present with typical symptoms of burning pain. Pancreatitis and even gallstones should also be excluded. Your doctor will be in a position to advise your further.

  • kthompson

    I am female, 40. Experiencing pain in right chest area, above the breast. Hurts when moving arm, applying pressure to area and when inhaling too deep. Also feeling pain in back right shoulder blade area at the same time.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi KThompson

      It may be muscular, possibly related to strain but there could be other causes that may be related to the chest wall. You should see your doctor who can then assess you and possibly consider a chest x-ray.

  • Berly

    Hello. I’m Fifteen Years Old, Female and I’ve been feeling pain on my left chest bone for about a year now. I don’t know what this is. Please help.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Berly

      You need to speak to a doctor about this. 1 year is a very long time and you should not leave it unattended. Tietze’s syndrome is a common cause of breastbone pain in girls of your age. However other causes need to be excluded as well. Your doctor will be able to advise you further.

  • Remnant

    Hi there…

    3 days ago I got some type of a chest infection, symptoms included coughing up lots of thick green phlegm as well as a fever which lasted 3 days. Because of the phlegm I have been coughing a lot and quite hard, and it started to become painful to cough. It began to become very painful in the spot right below the sternum and I noticed that there was a hard round swollen lump there that hurts when touched and especially when I cough. I am a 26 year old non-smoker and have never had this before. I just woke up after a long sleep and it is still there and just as tender….does it sound dangerous? Any help is appreciated,


    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Remnant

      It could just be some muscle spasm as a result of the persistent coughing. There is no way of knowing if this is “dangerous” or not without having it assessed. You need to see your doctor.

  • JohnyD

    Hi Dr.

    Well i went to get further checkup for my Condochondritis that has lasted about 2 or 3 weeks already(i haven’t counted).

    WEll it’s been baaad. alot of pain.

    Got a total body Xray which showed that I have a crooked spine(Scoliosis) and also one of the vertebrae is twisted possibly because of the bus accident i had as a kid. And around that twist is where my
    ribs are shown to be dislocated.

    So it’s tough.
    Dr also discovered through the Xray that i have the beginning stages of Anterior Head Syndrome(Hunchback). I hope i don’t get that..what should i do for that?

    What can i do to get better from my dislocated ribs? Drs just gave me advil.. and that’s not helping at all.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi JohnyD

      Now that you are seeking professional medical help, you should discuss this with your doctor. Inform your doctor that the medication prescribed is not offering much relief and he/she will consider other medication as well. You may need to see an orthopedic specialist (orthopedist) who can better assess your situation and advise you further. Rather not ignore it and get the proper treatment at this stage before other complications arise.

  • Fleur

    I recently suffered from pain in my chest, I had blood tests and a chest x-ray, which were fine so my doctor diagnosed Tietze syndrome and said that it would clear up in 6 weeks. It has now been 9 and a half weeks and I am still getting pain. The pain is worse if I drink alcohol or caffeine or if I get stressed. I am 36yrs old and physically fit with no other health worries/problems. Do you think I should go back to my GP or is nothing to worry about.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Fleur

      You should go back to your GP who may consider changing your medication or referring you to an orthopedic specialist. The 30s is a sensitive time especially for those of us living in developed countries – high fat, high carb diet and sedentary lifestyle – and you are at risk of cardiovascular conditions. At this age, every pain or symptom should be taken seriously until it can be concluded that is not due to any serious pathology. Speak to your GP.

  • hui

    I’ve been having pain in my sternum near my 2nd rib. It feels centrally located and a bump is palpable. It hurts everyday and I’ve had it for at least 3 years. I’ve seen a doctor in the past and he prescribed me ibuprofen. I take it daily but it does not seem to help. It eases the pain slightly but the pain never goes away. I’ve received a chest x-ray in the past but it came back normal. I had blood work done and ESR is slightly elevated. I can’t sleep or lay on my side at night before it hurts. The pain increases with sneezing but not coughing. It is tender upon touch. My doctor referred me to an arthritis specialist in the past because he was suspecting costochondritis but he said there was nothing he can do except give me more meds.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Hui

      I am not sure what exactly your question is but your doctor is going through the proper channels by referring you for specialist treatment so you should see this through.

  • kiki

    Dear doc,I have been having left sided chest pain for 4 months now.its disturbing mostly because of the anxiety and panic it has caused mem it started as a painful spasm just below my left nipples like ontop my heart that wen I place my hands there to try and locate the pain,I can feel my heart woke me up by 5:30am.the painful spasm lasted approximately 7hrs and stopped,but left me with a constant pain like that of pricking needle which I only feel mostly on EXHALATION. Its strange bcos I hear of pain mostly on inhalation but mine is so sharp only on exhalation just below my left nipples and feels like its coming from the heart welcomes me sharply when I wake up in the morning and subsides as the day progesses without me feeling the pain on exhalation @ nite. I am 28 years old female and have done 3 ECGs and an ECHO of which the docs says are normal though the last ECG read abnormal with sinus rhythm and occasional ectopic rhythm,the cardiologist said it was an error bcos it was actually just a spot on the ECG graph that was different from others. Please doc,from my symptoms described,what do you think?as I haven’t been feeling myself lately and attimes I feel my heart beat hard that I feel the beats even in my fingertips and mostly at nights,is it normal? And also to add, I noticed after inhaling,if I apply pressure to that part of my chest before I exhale,the needle like pain reduces or if I bend forward while exhaling,it reduces it too. Pleasssse helpppp.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kiki

      A cardiac condition is always the priority and should be reassessed several times if initial investigations are inconclusive. Multiple ECG’s are the norm in these instances. Pain that is so prominent on inhalation could be related to chest wall pain, diapramatic and even upper gastrointestinal conditions (esophagus, stomach).

      Other possibilities is a spleen or liver condition, which can be linked to portal hypertension and possibly be the cause of your palpitations. It is difficult to say without knowing your case history, clinical findings, test results and so on. Fortunately you are in the hands of a cardiologist and given the inconclusive results thus far, your cardiologist will consider other investigations which are not routinely done. Rather let your cardiologist go through it without any interference so this does mean patience on your part.

      Remember that this condition may not be related to the heart or great blood vessels. So your cardiologist will first have to exclude cardiac conditions conclusively before referring you to another specialist, possibly an internist or gastroenterologist, as these other conditions may not be immediately life threatening like a cardiac condition.

  • kitty_gillen

    hi there,

    could you possibly help me, I,m at my wits end, i have been having pain in my sternum at the bottom of it, its been there for 18 months and was spreading to my arms sometimes, and my back, but the last few days I have experienced a new sensation and it is severe pain rite at the centre of the sternum, it was sharp stabbing pain and i phoned an ambulance cause i couldnt breathe, it was reallyscary, x-ray came back clear, ecg was normal, but i can lift anything now, not even a cup without a twinge, i cant lie on my sides, my front, i,m in tears every day now and scared to do anything, i,m a mum to 3 kids and i cant cope with this any more its taken over and ruining my life. do you theink an osteomyoligist will be able to help as the Hospital says there is nothing they can do, i,m on brufen everyday 600mg 3xtimes a day, and just want to sleep so i can get away fromthe pain. can you please help

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kitty_Gillen

      You should rather see your family doctor first before considering any specialist medical attention (osteomyology is a complementary health field). Your doctor will able to assess any other conditions that may be causing this pain – remember that ER is just there to ensure that is no life threatening situation facing you immediately and you need to follow up afterwards with your doctor. There are a number of possibilities including pleurisy, pericarditis and so on, although may gastrointestinal conditions and and abdominal organs could also be responsible (gallstones, inflamed gallbladder). Once your doctor can isolate a possible cause, he/she will refer you to the appropriate specialist.

  • akchica

    Hi Dr. Chris
    I’m a 22 year old female, and for about the last week I have had pain to the left side of my sternum when I take a deep breath. It feels constricting, but goes away as I exhale, and is also in the same area that I have experienced loud and painful popping on occasion in the past. I haven’t had any injuries, only physical therapy for a lumbar strain-which I noticed the pain later the same day as my back being pushed on really hard during a manipulation treatment to the point that it took my breath away and was quite painful. I haven’t noticed many movements or positions that make it worse, but I’m also a bit restricted on that because of my lumbar strain. What could be causing the pain? It sounds like maybe inflammation… Should I be very concerned about it?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi AkChica

      From what you describe, it is possible that the manipulation strained the costochondral joints on the front. These are the joints between the ribs and breastbone. It is unlikely that manipulation caused it but rather that there was some underlying irritation and the treatment just aggravated it. If this is the case then it may not be very serious and should resolve with time although it can be persistent and require medical treatment. Pain when breathing in deeply is also common because of the expansion of the chest cavity during inhalation. However, you should speak to your doctor about this just to exclude any other, possibly serious, underlying conditions.

  • kiki

    Dear Doc, on my Dec 29th post, i said the pain is usually worse on EXHALATION and i usually don’t feel a single pain on inhalation. So Doc, what do you think can cause such a sharp pain just ontop the heart region on exhalation for approx 6 months now? And occasionally now i feel malaised virtually all through the day! Pls help, do i go for another set of x-rays and ECGs(both normal and stress)? Thanks.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Kiki

      Please remember that it is difficult for us to answer with any degree of certainty. We are judging your case based on your report without any means of assesing you physically. Most importantly this service is only intended to guide you and not provide any definitive medical answer that in any way replaces a medical consultation. At this point, you should be consulting with a medical specialist like a pulmonologist or cardiologist. Conditions like pericarditis, small airway disease and even conditions affecting the liver, gallbladder, pancreas or stomach can present with this symptom. I would advise that you see a pulmonologist initially, and then follow up with a cardiologist. I assume that your doctor has conclusively excluded chest wall pain and conditions like costochondritis.

  • kiki

    Tanks, jus did another x-ray last week with no active lung disease, heart size normal and thoracic cavity(or so)normal. So i dnt know if to go on with the pulmonologist. Tanks again.

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi KiKi

      Speak to your doctor. An x-ray does not detect all abnormalities but it is a useful starting point. Your doctor will decide whether your persisting symptoms warrants further investigation by a pulmonologist.

  • marie

    Hi Dr.Chris I am 56 years old I had my gallbladder out in 2009 .When I was being diagnosed I had an endoscopy in which they found out I have Barretts disease.I am taking omeprazole every day last time I went to my primary care she said I should stay on it.My question is I get sternum pain for a couple of weeks off an on at the bottom of sternum the pain will last for 4 seconds and go.Also that will happen several times a day.I’m not dizzy and I have no other pains.I am concerned is it gasrtric or heart?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Marie

      It is difficult to say because both gastric and cardiac pain can appear in such a similar manner. However, the location and lack of other symptoms may be more indicative of gastrointestinal-related pain. Your age and history on the other hand does mean that the risk of heart disease is greater so this should not be ignored altogether. Ideally, at this age, you should be having a cardiovascular examination every year whether or not you have any heart disease. If your last cardiovascular examination was clear then your doctor will focus more on your gastrointestinal problem. My advice though is that you should have this checked up by a doctor. EVen cardiac pain can appear in the most innocuous manner and be passed off for weeks or even months as a gastrointestinal condition. With chronic conditions like a Barrett’s esophagus, you should be seeing a medical specialist (gastroenterologist) who will manage your condition appropriately.

  • marie

    Thankyou Dr.Chris for the advice.

  • jenny

    hi im 18 years old and i’ve been having pains in the middel of my chest close to my right breast its been like this for at least two weeks now. The paind hurt alot when i lean foward or backward and sometimes when i take deep breath and stretch. Its like a sharp stabbing pain.what can i do to stop it?should i be worried? should i see a doctor?is it serious? please reply back i would really appreciate it.
    thank you

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Jenny

      It depends on what is causing this pain. It could be related to the chest wall and could be muscular strain, a bruise or even costochondritis. Or it may be deeper lying – in your age group you should consider pleuritis (inflammation of the lining around the lungs) or even pericarditis (inflammation of the lining around the heart). This can occur if you had a respiratory tract infection recently. YES, you should see a doctor to have it assessed.

  • jenny

    hi im 18 years old and i’ve been having pains in the middel of my chest close to my right breast its been like this for at least two weeks now. The paind hurt alot when i lean foward or backward and sometimes when i take deep breath and stretch. Its like a sharp stabbing pain.what can i do to stop it?should i be worried? should i see a doctor?is it serious? please reply back i would really appreciate it.
    thank you

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Jenny

      In your age group, chest wall problems are a more common cause of this type of pain. Although the pain is characteristic of pleuritis (inflammation of the lining around the lungs) or even pericarditis (lining around the heart), it is uncommon for your age unless you recently had an infection. However, you have not experienced any respiratory or related symptoms. You should still see your doctor to exclude these serious causes and take note of whether the pain occurs with certain movements, especially arm movements, and report this to your doctor. A chest x-ray may be necessary as a starting point.

  • nelly

    Hey doc, am a female of 27 yrs old, i recently had an ESR and FBC with results as follows- Hb(10.8g/100ml), PCV(37.4%), Mcv(81.4fi), McHc(28.8g/dl), platelet(304,000ui), WBC(4100ui), Neutrophil(45.6%), Lymphocyte(40.8%), Others(13.6%). i had this test done bcos for the past 7month now, i have been having a left sided chest pain on exhalation(had 2 x-rays, 3 ECGs and an ECHO, all came out Normal) also, i have been having this constant malaised feeling for about 4months and the whole of my left chest is twitching or undergoing some kind of painless spasms as well as my left eye for about 4 months now too and so decided to run these tests. Is the result normal? People say the WBC is low, what could cause this?

    • Dr. Chris

      Hi Nelly

      We don’t respond to questions regarding the evaluation of lab tests results as many patients attempt to “self-diagnose” themselves without seeing a doctor. This can have dire consequences and become a medicolegal issue in the long run. You should not be taking advice from”people” and seek professional medical help. Discuss your blood tests with your doctor and given your symptoms, you should be consulting with a specialist physician at this point.

  • janice I Barnes

    I spit up daily a thick dark gray, greemish phlegm ball everyday which is difficult to spit and often gets stuck in my throat, until I can get rid of it. It really comes up fast after I have eaten at the end of the day or if I really talk a lot for a lengthy time. It does interfere with my breathing, until I have released it. What is this? (I am 58 yrs. old, a jogger since 18 and very slim. Have IBS and colitis badly.)

  • Karla

    Hi my name is karla n I’m 21 have 2 kids.
    I have been gettin chest pains the last past 4 days on the left side right next to my breast it will come really sharp n than it will go away. Help pls!!!

  • Kylie

    Dear Doctor,
    I am a 15 year old girl with pain in my sternum. It started earlier in the day and gradually grew to a moderate dull pain. It affects my sternum and upper spine. Light pressure on my sternum brings me to tears, breathing is really difficult and it hurts so does eating and drinking. Pain medication isn’t working and I don’t really know what I should do.

    • Hi Kylie. It is very concerning that then pain is so intense that it can be triggered with even light pressure. Furthermore the difficulty breathing, eating and drinking is also a worry. Kylie, this could be Tietze’s syndrome which is more often seen in young people, particularly female.

      But it could also be due to an injury which may have led to fractured rib and son. You need to speak to your parents ASAP and see a doctor. The intensity of the pain you describe and breathing/eating issues means that this cannot be left unattended. We cannot comment on other treatment measures as the cause needs to diagnosed by a medical professional who can deal with you face-to-face.

      • Kylie

        Dear Doctor,
        After I got your message I convinced my mother to take me to the doctor immediately. My doctor said that I was must likely having reflux and should take ranitidine and pain pills then come back in two weeks. I would like to know if reflux can cause such issues, because the pain keeps getting worse.

        • Hi Kylie. We would not like to second guess your doctor or any other health care professional as he/she has seen you in person and knows your case. Yes, reflux is a possible cause as the article mentions above. As we said previously, pain that brings you to tears and there is difficulty breathing is a concern. Rather follow your doctor’s advice and if you are feeling uncertain then seek a second opinion from another doctor.

          • Kylie

            Dear Doctor,
            I listen to my doctors advice like you told me too. I didn’t work. Around 1:30 pm I could barely breath and what breaths a did get were short and painful. the pain in my chest instead of being the dull pain from yesterday turned into a sharp stabbing-like pain. The area is much more tender now and hurts very bad. Pain killers aren’t doing anything to help to.

          • Hi Kylie. We are very limited in how much further we can advise you. This is an online platform that guides readers on possible solutions. We cannot make a diagnosis, prescribe a treatment or override the advice or judgement of the medical professional you are seeing. Commenting any further could open us up to liability. Therefore we strongly advise that if you are not experiencing any relief of symptoms and feel your doctor’s approach was inadequate then seek a second opinion. Do not delay if your symptoms are getting worse – go to the ER at your local hospital.

          • Brittney

            I have had the same problem since I was 16 and now I am 30. I finally found a doctor who took it serious, and my GI specialist performed a Upper Endoscopy. It was determined that not only did I have 2 ulcers, and Gerd, but the cause of my pain was a rare disease called ESINOPHILIC ESOPHAGITIS. Hope this helps…?

  • Kaylie

    Hi, I am a 17 yr old female. I have this hard spot on my sternum right in between my breasts. This lump comes and goes . It is hard and usually painful. What could cause this?

  • diala

    Hi, Im a 21 years old female. I’ve been experiencing pain in a bone in my chest in the right side but the bone isn’t in the middle its like between the upper middle and the right of my chest. when i touch it, it hurts and i can feel that its infected. Other than that lately i’ve been experiencing a rash in the upper area of my chest, and around my mouth and redness around my nose, and i have a feeling that my hair isn’t as thick as it was! help me please

    • Hi Diala. It is difficult to say whether all these symptoms (chest pain, face rash and thinning hair) are related or not. However, it is a possibility that a systemic condition may be responsible and you have to see a doctor for this as soon as possible. Shingles is one possibility that needs to be considered here. However, there are a host of different conditions, particularly skin diseases, that could be causing these symptoms. It is possible that the chest pain has nothing to do with bone but is rather just a skin problem. It is advisable that you see a doctor ASAP.

  • Brittany Streeter

    Hi, I’m 22 years old, and over the past 3 weeks I’ve been experiencing dull pain above my right breast and around my sternum area when swallowing food or hiccuping. Also, sometimes it just aches in general, but only when I’ve been outside in the cold and shivering. A couple days before Christmas, I had a couple ski falls, which I didn’t think much of, but in both cases my arms were pulled pretty violently uphill while my legs were being pulled downhill (my skis didn’t pop off). A couple weeks after that (January 10), I went bouldering with my family, It was after the bouldering that I noticed the dull pain when swallowing food or hiccuping. Is it likely that I have some irritation/inflammation?

    • Hi Brittany. Yes, it is very likely that some soft tissue injury related to your falls could be causing these symptoms. Given your age you are not usually in the high risk group for some of the more serious conditions that may be attributed to these symptoms. This is not to say that the injuries that you have sustained are not serious. Hopefully you did see a doctor after your falls, had an x-ray and started anti-inflammatory drugs shortly thereafter to minimize the inflammation and discomfort. If not, then you should see your doctor ASAP.

      • Brittany Streeter

        I did got to my doctor, had a chest x-ray (which was normal) and have been taking anti-inflammatories (ibuprofen). The frequency and intensity seems to be improving. I still feel the discomfort on occasion. I’ve been pretty anxious about it, so now I’m hypersensitive to everything I feel when swallowing. Sometimes it feels uncomfortable around the throat area when swallowing, but I’m not sure if it’s simply because I’m paying attention to it. My husband says that swallowing isn’t necessarily comfortable, but unless he’s focused on the motion that he doesn’t feel any discomfort. What would you say swallowing is supposed to feel like? I also have neck pain (around the sternocleidomastoid) area particularly when in bed. I’m a stomach sleeper, I also have a forward head posture and rounded shoulders from that. I often get an aching feel from my neck area to my ears. Is it possible to feel some “deep throat” discomfort when swallowing if one has tight and sore sternocleidomastoids? Interestingly, I learned that those muscles also connect to the sternum…wonder if it’s related to my chest discomfort? Not sure how I should proceed. Not sure if I’m overreacting or I should be checked out further. I’ve also read about hyoid bone syndrome…

        • Hi Briittany. Swallowing is not supposed to be a painful experience. You asked what swallowing should feel like but it is important to realize that sensations are subjective and furthermore vary by the situation. In other words swallowing a partially chewed carrot is going to be uncomfortable as to swallowing yogurt. You have many concerns and you should be directing this to a doctor in a face-to-face consultation. If you are not satisfied with your doctor then seek a second opinion from another doctor, or ask for a referral to a specialist. It’s always good to be cautious as something serious could start off slowly with non-specific symptoms. We are not in a position to say whether this is serious or not and as an online platform we have to rely on subjective information that you offer. So there could be much more at play here that even you may not realize. Rather not attempt to self-diagnose (unless you have an extensive medical background) and see a doctor in person.

  • julie

    Hi, I have pain that starts at the start of my left breast all the way to end. The pain is under my breast when I seem to push in on this area. Had xray but found nothing with my ribs

    • Hi Julie. Hopefully you have consulted with a gynecologist as it may be a breast issue and not necessarily a bone problem. Pain on its own without any other symptom is difficult to interpret, especially on an online platform. You need to follow up with your doctor and then see a gynecologist. Hopefully you have been having your annual mammograms. Your doctor will be able to advise you further.

  • Tammy

    Hi, I’m a 56 year old experiencing pain in my chest. I think it is in my 1st and 2nd ribs. It only hurts upon movement and if I press on it. Yesterday the pain was in my sternum. Also, upon waking this morning, I had back and flank pain that went away after I was up and about. Not sure if they are related. (Looked at a urine sample: clear and no weird odor.) Any insights?

  • Laugh Goblin

    HI Doctor,

    I am not sure if this forum is still active. But 3 days ago I was horse playing with my cousin and I hit my chest pretty hard a few times. Next day I noticed a swelling on my breast bone. Then the next day it felt bruised, and I could feel my heart beat. I noticed I felt myself gasping for a deeper breath, and pressure when breathing, and eating. I went to my DR for X-rays but the nurse called back the next day and said everything looks normal. I still feel discomfort. Both times I have visited this DR after being recommended by a friend he seemed a little impatient with me due to my hard of hearing. I found it difficult to ask him anything with out him losing his patients with me. He prescribed me some IBUPROFEN 800MG. Said it would help with pain and swelling. But I was still left with questions that I did not want to hassle him with.

    I would like to know… If I just maybe bruised my chest? Are the symptoms I am feeling normal? Will it heal on it’s own? Should I take the IBUPROFEN even if I am not in pain?. I just feel discomfort in eating, and breathing and discomfort when I sleep, and sometimes a painless pinching feeling in the bruised area.

    • Hi Cora. We cannot answer the questions specific to your case because we are not overseeing your case. However, in general terms if the x-ray was clear then it is likely that this was soft tissue injury. It would explain most of the symptoms you are experiencing. Most injuries of this sort heal on its own over time but anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen are usually prescribed to aid with reducing the inflammation. But this may not necessarily be the issue in your case. Seek a second opinion to be sure.

      • Laugh Goblin

        Thank you.

  • Alice

    Hi Dr

    I am 27 years old and I always sleep on my stomach and one night I woke up with pain in my sternum. It has been 3 days the pain hasn’t gotten worse but it hasn’t significantly improved either. It hurts when i stretch or lean forward or backwards. Please let me know of any advice or hypotheses. Thanks

    • Hi Alice. This is possibly just musculoskeletal where there is pressure being placed on the chest wall for long hours since you sleep on your abdomen. There are other possibilities like acid reflux which will worsen by your sleeping position. Speak to your doctor about it if it hasn’t resolved as yet and see if it still occurs when you change sleeping position. It is difficult to say for sure through an online platform but rather be safe than sorry and have it investigated by a medical professional.

  • Greta

    I’m an active 22 year old and have been experiencing some pain in my chest for a few days–mainly middle right side. The pain isn’t unbearable, but it does get a bit worse with certain movements. When I am laying down, it gets hot on the site. I have been doing more push-ups than usual right before the pain started. But, my hubby and I were also wrestling around and he put his weight on my chest before the pain started as well. What could this be? Is it from the work out, or did my hubby accidentally mess something up?

  • Greta

    I’m an active 22 year old and have been experiencing some pain in my chest for a few days–mainly middle right side. The pain isn’t unbearable, but it does get a bit worse with certain movements. When I am laying down, it gets hot on the site. I have been doing more push-ups than usual right before the pain started. But, my hubby and I were also wrestling around and he put his weight on my chest before the pain started as well. What could this be? Is it from the work out, or did my hubby accidentally mess something up?

  • Mandie Saunders

    I am a 35 year old woman and have had pain in my sternum (right in the middle of my chest) for a four or five days now it hurts if it gets pushed on and I sneezed a few min ago and felt like i was getting kicked from the inside out.

  • Taylor

    HealthHype: I have a question that is of concern. Directly at the line in the middle of my chest where your cleavage would start is extremely tender to the touch. It feels almost as if it is bruised inside it. I am confused because it’s not necessarily my chest or my breast or what? I am starting to get worried about it. Any suggestions?

  • Prem Dhungyel

    Hi Doctor,
    I am Prem Dhungyel from Bhutan. I have been suffering from chest pain for the last 14 years and it never gets well. The main pain is felt in the left chest particularly the pain in bones while touching around the breast. It also gives difficulty in breathing and I get lots of pain while I am hungry. Please can you suggest me what actually it means. I did lots of test for heart attacks like CT scan, ECG, X-ray and all and Doctors found that the heart is in perfect condition.

  • micki

    Hi, I am 40 years old. I have been sick with I guess it’s a cold, nasal drainage and clogging, had a sore throat for the first 2 days, I cough up a little phlegm here and there. Sometimes it’s kind of brown. But it doesn’t feel like it’s in my lungs, but I have pain in my sternum more so to the left but still in the middle. It hurts when I move around and sometimes if I breathe deeply. It feels more like the bone is bruised or something. So I was wondering is it because I’m sick and should I wait until I get over my cold and see if it goes away or should I see someone now. I’ve been sick for 6 days it started hurting the second day and is still bothersome. It’s more annoying than anything. But I am getting concerned. I am feeling better but not over it yet.

  • Brandi

    I’m 22 have 1 kid I woke up in the night and noticed that between my breast I have a swollen spot more on the left side close to my breast on the left?? Does anybody know what this could be

    • HI Brandi. There are many possible causes but this could be a swollen lymph node. You should definitely have this checked up as soon as possible. Speak to your doctor. Further investigation may be necessary to conclusively identify the underlying cause. It may not be anything serious but it is better to have it checked as early as possible.

  • Rochelle

    Dear doctor, my name is Rochelle I’m 22 years old and I’ve been experiencing moderate to severe cramps in my chest ever since I was a toddler (according to my mom) and so far no doctor that I went to has come to make a diagnosis. I also have a burning sensation in the middle of my chest and sometimes there’s a itching under my ribcage as well. The itching comes and goes, so does the cramping and sometimes the cramping gets so severe that I can hardly take a breathe. Please help cause I don’t know what else to do. Pain medication doesn’t work either because I’m allergic

  • Melissa Orr

    I am a 48 yr old female and have a swelling or lump on the xiphoid process it is sore and tender to the touch. My doctor wants me to have a mammogram but why a mammogram if this soreness is on my sternum? Should I b concerned? I thought maybe an xrays or something would be the case not mammogram

  • José Felicié

    doctor? Mi name is José and i am 18 years old. Today i was wrestling with a friend for fun on a trampoline. During this my friend landed on my chest with his shoulder. I started feeling a dull pain on my chest when i breath and move my left arm too much. It isnt unbearable. And when I touch the area i dont feel very sore. But when i apply presure it causes the dull pain. This pain happens at both my back and chest. I am hoping that it will go away tomorrow. I dont believe it was a fracture because it isnt that painfull. (Ive never experienced a broken bone before either.) Please. Is there anyway to treat this? If the pain doesnt get better by tomorrow i wll go to a doctor.

  • Jade

    Hi, I’m a 22 year old female. I don’t quite know if it’s anything serious but I’ve woken up this morning and the bones above my breasts along my chest are very tender to touch. Clothing and the slightest amount of pressure touching certain areas are very painful. I can’t recall injuring myself to the extent the pain is. I was wondering if the pain will subside or whether I need to go to my doctors to be checked over?

    • Hi Jade. In situations like these, with such severe tenderness, you should definitely consult with a doctor. Hopefully by now you have done so. Sudden onset of pain and tenderness is often associated with an injury and sometimes and infection but it could also be due to other conditions. The lack of any preceding injury does not mean that it may still not be a serious problem. Hopefully this is not the situation in your case.

  • rose

    For the past year I have gone to the doctors for shoulder blade pain and also breast pain. When I breathe some part along my shoulder blade it pops. I would say the popping goes through my ribs 1-6, sometimes even my neck. It is very painful or it is a highly unpleasant feeling. This happens throughout the whole day, everyday, more than 17 times of popping ,and I have no control of it. I had an X-ray done and the doctors said it was normal. Then they gave me therapy and they blamed it on my bad posture. 2 weeks later, there was no improvement on the popping even with the practice of “good posture”. I cannot sleep at night and it is driving me crazy. What should I do? Should I demand an MRI or a CT Scan?

  • Winston Smith

    50 year old male. This morning I was on my road bike (cycle not motor) and hit a manhole cover in a 28 mph turn. I flipped forward and to the right, landing on my head and right shoulder (ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!). I’m 6’5″ and 240 lbs. As the day has progressed, I feel the symptoms described for a bruised sternum, (and other neck and shoulder pain that comes from landing that hard.) Is it actually possible to bruise a sternum in this way? Everything I’ve read says it happens with direct impact.

    Just taking the chance that someone may respond on this really old post.