What causes pain in the sternum?

Answer

According to the Mayo Clinic, pain in the sternum is a common symptom of costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the sternum and ribs. The Mayo Clinic explains that costochondritis is also referred to as chest wall pain and symptoms can mimic the pain of a heart attack. The initial cause of costrochondritis is unknown, and treatment typically consists of pain management until the inflammation heals over time, according to the Mayo Clinic.

WebMD explains that psoriatic arthritis can cause sternum pain; psoriatic arthritis is an inflammation of the joints and cartilage that is found in individuals with plaque psoriasis. According to WebMD, the condition often causes inflammation in the cartilage that connects the sternum and the ribs. Additional symptoms of psoriatic arthritis include swelling of the fingers and toes and stiffness in the upper and lower back, according to WebMD.

According to MedlinePlus, chest wall pain can also be caused by tendon strains between the ribs, esophagus spasms, heartburn, stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux and gallstones. MedlinePlus warns that it is important for people experiencing chest wall pain to contact a physician as soon as possible if they feel a sudden squeezing or tightening of the chest that spreads to the jaw, left arm or shoulder blades, as these are common symptoms of cardiac arrest.

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