Sternum & ribs pain

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Sternum & ribs pain
Human Rib Cage (Image by, courtesy of woodley wonderworks)

Pain in the sternum (breastbone) and ribs can be present for a number of reasons, but there is a condition that causes sternum and rib pain called costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the sternum.

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Costochondritis pain can feel like the same pain associated with various heart conditions, including a heart attack.


Sharp pain and tenderness where the ribs attach to the breastbone is the main symptom of costochondritis. Although the pain can occur on either side of your chest, left side pain is most often associated with it.


Clear causes for sternum and rib pain can include injury to the chest or infection in the chest area.


Most sternum and rib pain causes cannot be seen on imaging tests such as X-rays or MRIs, but the pain can be diagnosed by a physical examination.


Sternum and rib pain usually will go away in about one or two weeks. Anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxers can be used to relieve pain.

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