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Sternum & ribs pain

Updated March 23, 2017

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.

Fact

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

Symptoms

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.

Causes

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

Diagnosis

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.

Treatment

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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About the Author

Based in Georgia, Loletrazina Church has been a professional freelance writer for more than 24 years. She has written several health-care articles and advertisement publications for websites such as KennethCole.com and Panasonic.com. Church attended Delgado College with a major in surgical technology.