Sternum Pain When Breathing: Causes Of Pain In Sternum And Chest

Sternum is a flat bone situated in the middle of your chest it is also called breast bone. It is a strong bone having two main functions, it protects the vital organs like heart and airways, secondly it serves as an attachment for ribs and collar bone namely clavicle.

Sternum Pain When Breathing

The sternum is made up of three parts, Manubrium, Body of sternum and Xiphoid process.

Sternum pain may be due to various reasons, they are as follows:

  • Trauma on the chest wall may cause inflammation of the cartilage joining the ribs and sternum, this is also called costochondritis.
    It may cause sterna pain, occasionally pain while breathing.
  • Sternal pain when stretching is felt, if there is trauma to the sternoclavicular joint or due to fracture of clavicle.
  • Rarely sternum bone is fractured as it is a strong bone, but in accidents if sternum bone gets fractured, there is severe chest pain and it may cause difficult y in breathing.
  • One of the important cause of sternum pain is heart attack, here the patient complains pain in the middle of chest, with associated symptoms such as breathlessness, the pain gradually shifts all over the chest.
    Substernal myocardial infarction is one such cause of sternum pain.

Causes Of Pain In Sternum And Chest

  • Overstraining of chest and sternum muscles during exercise can also give rise to pain in sternum. This pain is related to stretching, coughing.
  • Long standing sternum pain is a sequel of patients who have undergone open heart surgery, where the sternum is separated from the chest muscles during surgery.
  • Heartburn, bone cancer, breast cancer and injury to ribs also result into pain in sternum.
  • Sore muscles of chest wall can also give rise to pain in sternum when coughing, stretching your arms or when breathing.

Diagnosis of the cause of sternum pain is important as one of the acute cause being heart attack, although it is a referred pain but a very important indication in heart attack.


  1. R D said:

    On the 18th of November I had a bad car accident, Ambulance took me to Cooper Trauma Center. They said I have head concussion, fractured Sternum and some blood in back of Sternum near my heart, I’m taking pain pills. Is there anything to do?

    November 24, 2010
    • PUP said:

      You should follow a regular check up with your doctor as there is a head concussion and sternum fracture. In addition to his treatment, you can take homeopathic medicines from a good homeopathic physician. There are homeopathic medicines which help to resolve the accumulated blood and promote healthy union of fractured bone.

      December 1, 2010

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