Xiphoid Process Pain and Tenderness: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What Is Xiphoid Process?

If you are experiencing pain and discomfort in the lowest portion of your sternum or the bone that connects to the ribcage, then you must be experiencing xiphoid process syndrome. For non-medical practitioners or somebody who is not so familiar with medical terms, surely you must be wondering what is xiphoid process pain because it is a condition that is not so common and since its symptoms are intermittent and are associated with other health conditions such as gallbladder, bone, and heart diseases. This explains why all the more pain in the xiphoid process and its other signs are overshadowed and most commonly mistaken for the aforementioned conditions.  Usually, it is only after thorough medical examinations that the xiphoid syndrome is confirmed.

Causes of Pain in Xiphoid Process

There are varied factors concerning pain in xiphoid process. Generally, xiphoid pain is triggered by harmless activities such as lifting heavy objects or bending and even large meals can start pain attack or xiphoid process. Diseases, medical conditions, medication to certain drugs, and toxins are also among the common causes of pain in xiphoid process.

Signs and Symptoms of Xiphoid Process Pain

The most common symptoms of xiphoid process pain include:

  • Chest tenderness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Shoulder tenderness
  • Shoulder discomfort
  • Back tenderness
  • Back discomfort
  • Epigastric tenderness
  • Epigastric discomfort
  • Chest pain
  • Back pain
  • Shoulder pain

Treatment and Management of Xiphoid Process Pain and Tenderness

If you are experiencing the symptoms of xiphoid process pain, consult your physician immediately.

Usually, cases like these are managed by conducting lab tests such as x-ray then the treatment will start based on the x-ray result. Analgesics are usually given. Hot or cold treatment and an elastic rib belt are also recommended. To avoid getting xiphoid process pain, avoid lifting heavy objects especially if you have a history of the syndrome.

18 Comments

  1. TP said:

    I am having pain in Xiphoid process since many days. My doctor just tells to lose weight. But exercise makes the pain worse. After exercising it then goes to back and sometimes to the head. I am also dieting to lose weight. I walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes. Again the pain is too much after doing the exercise. What should I do?

    August 30, 2012
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      Pain in xiphoid process is usually felt at the end of breast bone. The bone is sometimes tender to touch. Avoid lifting heavy objects or doing strenuous physical work. However, you should also consult a cardiologist to rule out any cardiac problem. You seem to be overweight but you have not mentioned your weight. Can you tell me your weight? Applying hot and cold fomentation may help to relieve the pain. An elastic rib belt is also effective in reducing the symptoms of Xiphoid pain.

      August 31, 2012
      Reply
  2. Bonnie Burden said:

    I am suffering from Xiphoid process syndrome. Lately it has come on with a vengeance. I do not lift heavy objects. I take Advil constantly (advice from my doctor) it still gives me much pain even when sitting. I cannot wear a bra. Is there something else that I can do? Should I see a particular doctor for this?

    September 27, 2012
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      Xiphoid process syndrome is a self limited disorder. Given time, the condition heals. Most of the time reassurance is needed in such patients. Analgesics help to relieve pain, but they cannot be taken for a long time due to their side effects. Hot fomentation, elastic rib belt are effective in reducing the symptoms. Few other alternative treatments such as acupressure and acupuncture may be valuable for such condition. Homeopathic drugs are also effective in certain conditions. The only concern is you should consult a good homeopath for such pains and aches.

      September 28, 2012
      Reply
  3. kev said:

    I have been experiencing these side effects for about 3 years now. I had extreme neck tension, nausea, and trouble breathing. But for the first time I am now experiencing pain in the xiphoid. My doctor has prescribed pills for the pain. I have a busy schedule and no time to rest.

    December 17, 2012
    Reply
  4. MG said:

    I am a 20 year old male. Since yesterday I have pain at the area of the xiphoid process. It pains when I am walking and exhaling. Due to this it is difficult to walk. I have to walk slowly.

    February 14, 2013
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      Is there a history of lifting heavy object or doing a strenuous exercise? The pain may also mimic acid reflux pain at times. Do warm water fomentation. Avoid lifting heavy objects. Consult your doctor and take medication prescribed by him. Usually doctors prescribe anti inflammatory and analgesics.

      February 14, 2013
      Reply
  5. Ryan said:

    I am suffering from pain in my Xiphoid process since 3 to 5 years. My health care provider says it will heal, but the pain is still persisting. I am not doing any strenuous work. I will appreciate if you tell me some home remedies.

    February 19, 2013
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      I would advice you to do X-ray of xiphiod and sternum. Meanwhile, use effective home remedies for alleviating pain of xiphoid process.
      • Apply alternate hot and cold fomentation.
      • Take a mixture of turmeric powder and 1 tsp of honey. Turmeric is time tested anti inflammatory herbal remedy. It helps to relieve pain.
      • Avoid lifting heavy objects.

      February 19, 2013
      Reply
  6. Kalinda said:

    I am having pain in the middle of chest in the xiphoid process since several months. I have consulted a gastroenterologist. He has done several tests and has found nothing wrong with gallbladder. What should I do?

    March 8, 2013
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      The pain may be that of xiphoid process or sometimes it may be due to esophageal reflux. However, since you are under the care of gastroenterologist, he may have ruled out reflux disease. Apply warm fomentation over painful area. Also do not lift heavy objects, especially if you are doing heavy exercise.

      March 9, 2013
      Reply
  7. kathy said:

    My husband injured his xiphoid a few years ago and it has pained him. Now even if he drinks a glass of water the pain is there like someone pushing on his chest. He is 64 year and last summer he had a heart attack and they put in a stent and he was feeling better. He does not want to eat as it causes pain. But he does work really hard. We go to the doctor for that next week.

    May 1, 2013
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      Pain in Xiphoid process may at times prolong for many days and months. A simple alleviating measure is hot fomentation over the painful area. Considering your husband’s heart problem, it is necessary to rule that in first place. There can be some another cause that needs to be found out. It is only possible after your doctor thoroughly examines the patient.

      May 4, 2013
      Reply
  8. OR said:

    My husband has a swelling in his xiphoid process. It is not painful. His weight is 120 kg. He does several sit-ups in the morning. How can he lose weight? Can you suggest any remedies?

    September 16, 2013
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      The swelling that is visible may be due to lipoma. It is a harmless growth of fat tissue. Your husband is certainly overweight. To reduce weight he has to do exercise as well as eat healthy balanced food. Regular walking for 30 minutes daily is the best exercise for losing weight. He should avoid eating fast food, oily and fried food. Eat more vegetables and salads. As he reduces his weight, the swelling is likely to reduce in size.

      September 17, 2013
      Reply
  9. Marcia Flemmings said:

    I have a lump in Xiphoid area it does hurt. I have pain in my shoulder and back. I went to the doctor last year for it. He said that that lump is normal. I am bit overweight. What must I do?

    June 21, 2015
    Reply
    • PUP said:

      The pain in back and shoulder may not be related to lump in Xiphoid area. It may be due to compression of a nerve in the neck. Reduce your weight by exercising and walking. This may help to melt the lump if it is caused due to fatty tissue.

      June 21, 2015
      Reply
  10. Lloyd said:

    I have just had surgery to remove my xiphoid process. It was diagnosed as a mass, prior to removal, not what has now been revealed after the laboratory examination,to be
    XP. Was the removal a mistake? What percentage have it removed. Will it cause other problems?

    Should I be looking for causes as to why it quite suddenly appeared and became noticeable, which resulted in seeing the doctor. The surgery was on 23 May 2015. A bandage covers the stitching
    and the entry point and surrounding are still tender. Please advise what steps I should take now.

    May 30, 2017
    Reply

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