Also known as the breastbone, the sternum is a flat, long bone located in the chest. Three segments of bones, namely: manubrium (upper portion, triangular in shape), corpus (body), and the xiphoid process (tail or last part) make up the breastbone. When an individual is experiencing pain in the sternum, it is the lower part of the breastbone or xiphoid process which may be experiencing a radiating pain. This condition is referred to as the xiphoid syndrome, which may be caused due to problems in the heart, bone, or gallbladder.
Experiencing pain in the lower breastbone can be quite discomforting, as it renders one unfit to carry out simple tasks, like bending or lifting anything. The pain may radiate towards the rest of the sternum or may be concentrated on only one portion.
Causes of Pain Under Lower Sternum
There can be several causes of sternum pain depending on the factors that are causing it. The symptoms exhibited by this condition are pain, discomfort, a feeling of tenderness in the chest region, unpleasant sensations that may be felt in the upper abdominal area, etc.
➜ One of the possible causes of pain in the lower sternum may be indigestion or heartburn. Some episodes of intense pain in the chest region may be observed as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
➜ A condition called esophagitis may also be responsible for triggering the pain. This condition is caused due to inflammation and irritation in the inner or mucosal lining of the esophagus. This problem may arise due to infections, side effects of certain medications, and also due to trauma to the food pipe.
➜ Muscle strain, especially in the pectoral muscles, may cause the breastbone to ache. Muscle strain may be caused due to various reasons, like deep breathing, heavy exercises, a blow on the chest, etc. Due to these factors, the intercostal muscles may become bruised and sore.
➜ Though its occurrence is rare, fracture of the breastbone may also be one of the causes of pain in the chest region. It may be caused due to motor accidents in which the chest gets impacted by the steering wheel.
➜ Pain and inflammation in the rib joints and costal cartilage due to costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome is also one of the culprits. Arthritis can also lead to pain in the shoulder blades and ribs, which may radiate towards the sternum.
➜ An individual suffering from respiratory disorders, like asthma, bronchitis, bronchiectasis, emphysema, tracheitis, etc., may experience pain in the breastbone, which is one of the indicants of any of these disorders.
➜ Other factors that may give rise to this condition are excessive belching, hiatal hernia, lung abscess, acute pancreatitis, stomach ulcers, etc. Lung cancer, presence of tumors in the air passage, and pain in the abdominal region can also trigger pain and discomfort.
Treating Sternum Pain
For treating the pain, it is essential to diagnose and assess the exact causative factor. To get relief from muscle pulls and strains, you can place a cold or hot compress on the affected region. The health care provider may conduct a few diagnostic tests, like chest X-ray, MRI, CT scan (if there is a fracture), and a physical examination. In case of infections and respiratory disorders, the doctor may administer antibiotics to treat the symptoms along with the ailment. If there is any fracture, the doctor mat treat it accordingly.
Experiencing pain in the lower sternum region is not always a matter of grave concern; however, necessary medical intervention should be sought in case the pain persists for long or becomes intense. Take care!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.