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Have you ever heard a popping sound in your chest area, specifically around the sternum or breastbone? If so, you might wonder what’s causing it and whether it’s something to be concerned about. In most cases, a popping sternum is not a cause for alarm and may even go away on time. However, in some cases, it may indicate an underlying condition that needs to be addressed. In this article, we’ll explore the various causes of sternum popping and the solutions to address them.

The Sternum: An Overview

The sternum, or breastbone, is a flat bone that runs down the center of the chest. It has two joints: the sternocostal joint, which joins both sides of the cartilage and sternum; its other connection to those same ribs is called a costochondral joint. Both support your ribcage area and help you move freely from side to side.

Ever heard your sternum “pop” or experienced clicking, popping sensations in the costochondral joints? Nobody knows why these sounds occur, but rest assured that it’s generally nothing to worry about unless you have pain, soreness, or inflammation. The popping commonly happens without warning yet is usually triggered by activities like taking deeper breaths and stretching.

Common Causes of Sternum Popping

  • Fractures
  • Joint or Muscle Strain
  • Costochondritis
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Bone Dislocation
  • Tietze Syndrome


Experiencing a sternum fracture or break in the breastbone is often due to direct force being applied to it. Additionally, inflammation of adjacent joints can also lead to a popping sound when pressed on this area. Depending on the severity of your fractured sternum, there’s an opportunity for surgery; thus, your attention right away to get touch action needs to be taken.

Joint or Muscle Strain

If you’ve been feeling pain and popping in your chest, it’s most likely due to a strain on the joints or muscles connected with the sternum. While rest is usually recommended for this kind of injury, it would still be beneficial to consult your doctor as soon as possible to ensure there isn’t something more serious like a fracture. This way, they can confirm that you’re dealing with nothing more than just a strain.


Costochondritis, the cartilage inflammation connecting your rib to your breastbone, can be difficult to distinguish from other forms of chest pain, such as a heart attack. For this reason, prompt medical attention is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment if you are experiencing chest discomfort.


Anxiety has been linked to sternal popping and further inflammation in the breastbone region, particularly throughout a panic attack. So if it gets increasingly hard for you to do your ordinary activities due to stress, make sure that you consult with your doctor right away.

Muscle Spasms

Experiencing a muscle spasm is an unexpected and sudden contraction of muscles. It can alter the position of related joints due to its tightness, causing agony and popping noises. This discomfort might be mistaken for respiratory or cardiac issues; therefore, you must get medical attention immediately to rule out serious causes.

Bone Dislocation

A painful popping sound may be heard when a sternum dislocation separates the joint between two bones. Although rest is typically sufficient for treating this condition, it’s important to consult your doctor to ensure no other associated injuries, such as fractured ribs or punctured lungs.

Tietze Syndrome

If you’re experiencing chest discomfort, popping sounds in the rib area, or difficulty breathing, you could suffer from Tietze syndrome. This is similar to costochondritis but involves swelling and inflammation of one or more cartilages around the second, third, or fourth rib. Don’t take chances with your health; seek medical help immediately for these symptoms.

Treatment for Sternum Popping

Suppose you’re experiencing joint popping, inflammation, and swelling. In that case, over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) or a painkiller like acetaminophen (Tylenol) could be an effective solution. In some cases, the symptoms may gradually subside with time.

Taking a break from activities may help alleviate the popping sensations in your sternum region. However, this can be challenging to do. Please consult with your physician for an accurate diagnosis of what is causing these symptoms and how to address them best.

Preventing Sternum Popping

If sternum popping is a regular occurrence, you’re likely curious to know how to prevent it. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way of preventing this issue; however, that doesn’t mean all hope is lost – there are several helpful steps to significantly lessen your chances of experiencing sternum popping again.

  • Maintaining good posture is essential to avoid chest popping and alleviate strain on your sternum. Ensure you’re sitting or standing with your shoulders back, head held high, and core engaged for optimal results. Good posture will help create a healthier environment in the long run!
  • Practicing regular exercise is an excellent way to safeguard yourself against sternum popping. Keeping your muscles toned and limber will make it less likely for the popping to occur, but remember that too much exertion can bring about muscle strain or other traumas. Consequently, a balanced adherence approach and restraint should be observed when engaging in physical activity.
  • In conclusion, finding ways to manage stress and anxiety is essential if you are feeling them. For instance, the popping sound in your sternum can be exacerbated by these emotions, so attending to them can help prevent the noise from occurring.

When to See a Doctor

Often, a popping sternum is no cause for alarm and may go away on time. However, there are times when it’s important to see a doctor.

If you’re experiencing severe or persistent pain in your chest or sternum, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. This could indicate a more serious condition, such as a heart attack or lung problem.

You should also see a doctor if your sternum popping is accompanied by swelling, tenderness, or other symptoms. These could be signs of an underlying medical condition, such as costochondritis or a fracture.

In addition, if you’ve recently had chest surgery and are experiencing sternum popping, it’s important to see a doctor immediately. This could signify post-surgery sternal instability, leading to infection, inflammation, and other complications.


To summarize, sternum popping is commonplace with various underlying causes. Generally speaking, there’s no need for alarm; however, it is important to stay mindful of the potential explanations for this symptom and consult your physician if you suffer from prolonged or intense pain.

To protect yourself from the discomfort of sternum popping, be sure to maintain a healthy posture and an active lifestyle. Additionally, managing stress and anxiety can also help reduce your risk. Should you experience this issue while taking these preventative measures, consider trying OTC anti-inflammatories or schedule a rest day to take care of yourself!

It is of utmost importance to immediately visit a doctor if you have chest pain or any other symptoms caused by sternum popping. However, with the right medical assistance and treatments, your worries about this condition will disappear as quickly as they appeared, and you can continue living without interruption.

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