The ribs are connected to the breast bone or the sternum via the costal cartilages in the front and to the spine in the back. This is often referred to as the rib cage which plays a crucial role in protecting the delicate organs in the thoracic region namely the lungs, thymus and the heart. The first seven ribs are connected together to a cartilage in turn is connected to the sternum.
Popping sternum is a condition which is associated with a cracking sound that is heard from the breast bone or the sternum.The popping sound is often said to arise from the sterno-clavicular joint (i.e. the location where the sternum is connected to the clavicle). Though this condition is not very serious and often doesn’t require treatment, it can be associated with several causative factors. Popping sternum treatment is only required when the condition is associated with pain.
What Causes Popping In Sternum?
There seems to be no apparent reason why the popping of the sternum should take place. However, in some conditions, the tendons and the ligaments connected to the sternum may get damaged and release joint fluid which may result in the typical popping noise.Some suggest that significant cartilage damage may result in rubbing of two ends to the bones which in turn are responsible for the popping sound. Some of the common causes associated with popping of the sternum include,
- Trauma: A trauma to the rib cage can result in dislocation of the sternoclavicular joint or may also case damage to the costochondrial joint which can result in the typical popping sound. The popping of the sternum is usually observed in severe trauma cases like fall, accident or an assault.
- Physical Strain: Some suggest that strain can result in a popping sternum. Excessive weight lifting or bench pressing, etc. can cause undue pressure on the chest wall which can result in sprain of the ligaments and tendons around the sternum. This can also result in subluxation of the joint which can be associated with popping of the sternum.
- Costochondritis or the inflammation of the costal cartilage can result in a popping sound from the sternum. The inflammation can be attributed to infections most frequently as a post operative complication of cardiac or thoracic surgery.
- Tietze Syndrome is condition which is also associated with popping of the sternum. This condition is observed in young girls and often affects the second and the third rib.
- Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis are also considered to be contributing factors for causing popping of the sternum. Arthritis can cause joint degeneration which results in rubbing of the two ends of the bone resulting in a typical popping or grating sound.
Treatment For Popping Breast Bone Or Sternum
Popping of the sternum may be experienced when the individual tries deep breathing or stretches the arms wide. Popping sternum is not a medical condition and no treatment is required. However presence of symptoms like pain, swelling and limited mobility may require to be treated promptly to avoid any complication and reduce the level of discomfort.
Use of conventional therapy is recommended in cases associated with mild discomfort and NSAIDs are prescribed. In cases of severe discomfort, surgical intervention may be suggested, though it is very rare.
Homeopathic drugs like Bryonia and Rhus Tox are considered beneficial in reducing the symptoms of pain and edema at the affected site.