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Tight or popping sternum

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I have had this looked at by my family Doctor and he said not to worry about it but I wanted a second opinion. I constantly have a tight feeling in my sternum it is definately bone or cartlige pain (doesnt feel like it is internal). I used to be able to pull my shoulders back by bringing my shoulder blades together and it would actually pop like when you crack your neck or back. Is there anything that I can do about this or should I see a specialist? I work out regularly and I am cautious not to overextend during weight training.

102 COMMENTS

  1. Relieves me to know there’s other people with similar issues. My sternum first cracked about a year ago, back then thought it was alright and refreshing, but ever since, had this mild pain in my chest. Couple of times later, i’ve forced it, by extra stretching out and then a sharp piercing pain hits the center of my chest. I haven’t had it checked yet, but after reading up, looks like prevention is better than cure. Only word of advice, to get comfortable, don’t stretch more than you’re comfortable!

  2. I have had this issue, probably for at least the last three or four years now; I honestly can’t remember if it was triggered by any significant injury. I’m 22, I don’t play sports, sit at computers at work (IT) and at home, so basically ALL the time! Just as well, I’m sure I have terrible posture, I sleep on my stomach/side, and I haven’t regularly exercised in the last couple years.I never used to get any real discomfort out of it, just that semi-stiff feeling you get when you know you need to pop your knuckles or neck. I actually just used to think the chest popping was an illusion and was really just a vertibre in the middle of my back and the sound wave was traveling through my body. This was also during a time when I found it incredibly easy to pop my neck and back. Nowadays, I’ll twist my body in both directions and only get a couple pops out of it, I can still pop my neck, just doesn’t want to sometimes even when it feels like it does but I don’t force it. Along with that, what with not really forcing it, my chest doesn’t pop either, and I’ll get some serious discomfort if I turn at a certain angle or lean forward really far. After a while it just goes away! I can only guess the best solution would be to maybe stop trying to pop it and/or correct the bad posture. Maybe someone else has a better idea?

  3. I woke up about 2 months ago with a tightness in my chest. When I pushed myself up to get out of bed, I heard a huge pop. I’ve been dealing with it ever since. I’m seeing the same pattern where I too am very outgoing & athletic. Seems like it may be normal wear & tear on the body from weight lifting, etc. I am a long distance runner & my doctor has already mentioned the pressure I’m putting on my back from pounding on payment. I believe its all related.

  4. ok well i dont voluntarily pop mine on purpose, or at least i dont yet. but i was lifting in the weight room at school today and i was on a sit up maching that you lock your legs into, and you can get a full 180 degree sit up. and i was doing this with an 8 pound medicine ball in my hand, and i did about 5, and on the sixth sit up my sternum popped really loud, and it almost knocked the wind out of me. my sternum has been popping a little bit for a while now, but nothing that caused any feeling of pain or discomfort at all. but now my chest hurts from pressure everytime i deeply inhale or move in a certain way. whats the deal??

    • I’m experiencing the same thing and have been for about a month. The common thread I have seen on all the sites about this is poor posture. I have very poor posture and tend to hunch over when I do everything, including sit in front of a computer. I just started doing yoga and have been trying to sit up straight. I’ll report back if these changes help. Good luck to all!

  5. My mother and I have both had these symptoms. Through gradual rest and generally not being stressed my mother has recovered. I am an under-weight student with a lot on my mind and I hunch my shoulders in my sleep, so this is not even beginning to fix itself; however there is some kind of good posture brace i saw advertised in a magazine and wonder if anyone else has tried it? If so, how did it do?

  6. My chest has been popping for about a year now. It pops several times a day and causes discomfort and tightness until I pop it. Sneezing, getting up quickly, rolling over in bed all make it pop, but I can also do it voluntarily by bending at the waist stretching my arms downward and quickly straightening up while raising my arms straight up. I do believe that lifting weights, especially the bench press, greatly contributes to this. However, my doctor said it’s fine as long as it’s not causing significant pain.

  7. I have been having the same problem for over 3 years. I pop my sternum a least 5 times a day. I never have pain but if I feel like I sit in a certin position for a long period of time I just stand up and stretch and it pops. no pain though. never had this checked but I would like to know why this is happening.

  8. I’m a weightlifter with the same problem. I neglect my back workouts and let my sholders and posture drop. -I’m going to do my back workouts extra hard and lighten up on chest for a while. It should help with my posture and I’m hoping it’ll allow the sturnum popping to stop.

  9. Due to the ribs having attachments both at the sternum as well as the spine it is common that they become fixed or tight at one or both articulations. This fixation maybe due to the spine not moving properly due to sport, posture or muscle tension (stress, computer work…). The popping you hear is most likely a build of gas within the joint, when the joint moves quickly as when we stretch, sneeze or yawn this gas build-up may release giving an audible pop. In some cases if the cause of the fixation is not treated the popping in the sternum may become irritated leading to an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the rib to the sternum. For anyone with a popping sternum, have it checked out by a CHIROPRACTOR. They deal with this sort of thing all the time, and if they can’t fix it they will be able to direct you to someone who can!

    • I’ve had the phenomenon happening for the last 20 years now. Maybe 25. I’ve asked 3 doctors about it and they all told me not to worry about it. When it happens, I just push down on the sternum until it pops, and all’s well.After giving it much thought, it seems to have coincided with a gradual sedentary lifestyle. I’m 54, was involved in sports all my life until ~29-30 years old. My posture has gotten worse and I am at the computer several hours a day.I’m not a doctor, but I believe it has to do with a change in my lifestyle.Good luck with all of yours!

  10. About 5 months ago, one night I had sharp pains in my sternum. This lasted for about 3 days, during which time i went to the hospital and told it was not resperitory or cardiovascular. It then got better but I then eventually tight sternum which is relieved by pushing your shoulder blades back and a popping feeling in the sternum. This has been going on for about 3 months now.I am only 19 years old, do not work out/ not that active, sleep on my stomach side. I also used to smoke cigarettes for a year but don’t think that is the cause.I feel that this is chiropractic and plan to check that out later this year.Anyways its good to know that other people have had this for some time and it is essentially benign. However it would be nice if there was a cure or at least a good treatment. I think ibuprofen is the best for now.

    • I do construction work and have this sternum popping once a week or at least once every 2 weeks. It is very loud just like a shoulder or elbow popping. There is no pain. I know that something is tight but don’t know how to stretch it out. Could a Massage Therapist help?

  11. Mine pops several times a day, and I use Theragesic for the discomfort, does anyone know why this is happening? Is there a cure for this?

  12. I agree that it is best to avoid popping, this only irritates the area in the long run. Stretching both the pec major and minor as well as the bicepts have really helped me. Additionally I ice reguarly which keeps the swelling down and when the injury was at its worse I took almost 2 weeks off of any upper body work. The area still feels vulnerabl but I am back to my normal routine. Be careful doing dips I have talked to other triathletes who have dislocated a rib where it conects to the sternum while doing them.

  13. Hey! I am a part of this whole mysterious deal. but I have no pain, ever. My sternum has been popping for almost 2 years. I have bad posture, and sit at a desk all day, but am still in good physical condition. Why do I not have pain when everyone else does? Is there anyone like me in here?

    • I have exactly the same symptoms as Mike except that I do construction work and do not do a structured exercise program. What can be done?

  14. I also have this popping and have had it for about 4 years…. also no pain, it actually a nice party trick, i let people put their hands on my chest (i’m male) and then pop it. they usually freak out. but after reading more about it, i’m concerned wether it will get worst with time…

  15. I’ve had the same thing for about six months now. My doctor said that the problem is that there isn’t alot of muscle covering the sternum so working out your upper body won’t strengthen any muscles to stop the popping. He suggested that instead of trying to work out the muscles I stretch the sternum, because he traced the pain to a the ligaments connecting the two parts of the sternum. I am supposed to put a excercise ball or pillow under my lower back and lean backwards, making sure that my chin and neck are arched back as far as possible. He also told me to stop working out my pecs and other areas that put strain on the sternum.

  16. Looks like I am a part of the mysterious “sternum popping” club, too. I’ve had this problem for maybe 1.5 – 2 years now. And like almost everyone here, I lift weights (upper body twice a week), I slouch in chairs, and have slept on my stomach all my life. I’ve never worried that this was a serious problem, however; I always knew it was just a structural (bone/ligament) issue, and not organs…I’ve been weightlifting since freshman year in high school (13 years ago), and I don’t know why this problem has arose just over the last couple years. I’ve tried taking 2, sometimes 3 full months off from lifting, and the tightness/popping is still there during such breaks of inactivity — it just does not go away.Glad I finally found the right ‘keywords’ to put into the search engine though, because up until this thread, I’ve been unable to find relevant information on this… I guess since there’s no definitive solution, I’ll just have to improve my posture and pay attention to my sleeping position…

  17. I have had sternum popping/cracking symptoms for about a year and it seems to be getting worse. This is the first time I’ve researched it on the internet and I’ve not been to the doctor, but from what I read above, I believe it is a combination of poor posture and sleeping on my chest/stomach. When I raise up from a seat/bed (most likely from a slouching position) my chest pops 2-3 times. There is usually always a soreness in my chest, but the intensity varies depending on how long I’ve sat or been lying down. Thanks for the info.

    • I’ve had this sternum popping thing for a few years now. I get a tight feeling in the area, and it seems the when I sneeze it makes a popping noise, and the tightness goes away for a while, very strange.

  18. I find it interesting that there are so many posts of people with the same problem, but no doctors, no cures, and few suggestions to ease the pain. I too, lift weights (sporatically), slouch, and sit a lot. I think that I got this popping thing about two years ago while doing pilates. If you are just getting this, DO NOT POP IT. I know it is tempting, but for me the more I pop it, the worse it gets.
    I will try bringing my shoulder blades together and sitting up straighter, since this seems to be common among the posters. Do many of you lay on the couch in poor posture? I do.

  19. I had the same thing and posted my story here a few weeks ago. I’ve experienced this for about 2 years now and the pain was excrutiating. Called 911 once- thought I was having heart attack at 27. I happened to be talking to my kids’ pediatrician the other day at youngest’s football practice and she mentioned “slipping rib syndrome”. When I got home I looked it up on internet and sure enough- every symptom I have is there. This can be fixed through Prolotherapy. They inject a drug into your ligaments and tendons and build them back up to support ribs so they don’t pop and move out of place to cause pain. I’m going to try this and I’ll let you know if it works. Hope you all find relief from this dabilitating disorder.

  20. Hey all, like everyone else on this blog i have the same problem. It seems to me that its probably a combination of weight lifting, slouching, and possibly sitting at a desk too long ( slouching as well ). I beleive this is the case because I am a Junior in college and I play college soccer. My tightness started in the spring of my sophomore year when i was lifting alot and sitting at my computer constantly. I have horrible posture and i am told so all the time. The tightness freaked me out at first. It hurts the most when i twist my upper body, like to look over my shoulder. Then i tried to lean back and it popped and releived lots of the pressure. My brother is in chripractic school and he says thats no possible to pop your sternum so im guessing its cartilage and legament issues. So I dont think theres anything to seroisuly worry about, just lots of disscomfort! Hope some of this information helps

  21. I’ve had the same problem. It started back in late Febuary of this year. I was having surging pain in my chest. I went to the health center at my unversity and the doctor told me (I forget the exact medical term) that the cartiledge in my rib cage was inflammed and it was most likely caused by stress or the weather. He gave me a prescription for the the pain and told me to take over the counter anti-inflammatory medicine 3 times a day. When I took the pain killers the pain was replaced with a weird popping feeling. It didn’t hurt but it was rather uncomfortable. The pain and popping disappeared after a week.I went on spring break a few weeks later and shortly after I returned to school we had a cold front come through and the pain and uncomfortable popping returned. Went back to the doctor and he told me the same thing and gave me another prescription for the pain.Now all that is gone but my sternum pops, the same way you pop/crack your knuckles, about 3 times a day and I have found that it is happening more frequently now that I am working for the summer and am sitting at a desk all day.Has anyone found out anymore useful information?

  22. Mine started popping while I was pregnant with my second child. I have not done weight lifting. I also do not pop it by force, it pops all on its own. It pops most often when I role over in bed from one side to the other. I had by baby in October, but the popping has not stopped. Just recently it has left an aching feeling througout the day. Ex. It popped two days ago and still aches today.

  23. I’m a college athlete and i lift 3x a week. I bench press a good amount of weight for a woman, I spoke with my trainers on the issue as well as a doctor. They said that it just happens when people lift weights, nothing is really wrong if it just pops and there is no pain, sometimes it can get sore but people have to distinguish between sore and pain. It could always be a combination of stress and tough workouts. I’ve been this way since i started sports and I’m perfectly fine! Don’t stress too much about it, as you can see it isn’t an uncomman issue.

  24. Hi. I was just reading up on it and it looks like it may be an issue with lungs, your heart, and your bones. a lot of doctors don’t know what it is, but the safest thing to do is go to a good doctor and stop popping your sternum… but then again its not easy to stop because you feel the pressure in your chest… i only know because i have had the same issue for about 8 months.
    Please write back to me if you get any information on it. thanks.

  25. I’m really surprised that there are so many people with the same issue. My sternum has been cracking for a few months now. I do have slight scoliosis, and I have poor posture and I sleep on my side, which seems to be consistant with a good portion pf people with popping sternums. All of my joints crakc all of the time. Fingers, knuckles, wrists, elbows, neck, back, hips, knees, jaw, it if can move, it cracks. I was a bit surprised when my sternum becan to crack because it’s not a joint, but I wasn’t overly concerned. From what I’ve read so far, it’s not something to worry too much about.

  26. i’d had tightness/popping in my sternum for a few months. most of the symptoms that you all described are the same ones that i had (annoying tightness in sternum that temporarily abates when the sternum is popped). i hypothesized that incorrect, “sluggish” or “slouching,” posture was cramping the torso, causing pressure on the sternum and, in turn, tightness of the chest. so, i started (about 2 weeks ago) to keep near perfect posture whenever i could, taking care never to slouch or position or “hang” my chest over my legs while sitting. since then, i haven’t felt tightness or the need to pop my chest (it’s been about 2 weeks, and previously, i was getting the chest pain nearly every day). i would definitely give this a try. if it does work, your chest may feel slightly tight in the morning; supposing that a “scrunched” torso really is the culprit, this could be due to curling up during sleep. be extra careful on couches and chairs that cause you to “sink” into them, as correct posture is difficult to mantain on these types of furniture. any feedback would be nice-briandale

  27. OMGOMG! I thought there was something wrong with ME! I’ve been doing pushups every day. 10 BOY and 20 girl pushups… Right now as I type this my chest is killing me… I popped it a minute ago in the ladies room (otherwise my blouse would have pulled up w/my stomach showing) and if I pull my shoulders together it KILLS ME… I’m hoping i can pop it again and hopefully relieve the pressure!

  28. Well I too have this popping in the chest. And like many others I lifted weights back in high school, which I beleive is what started mine. I was bench pressing and came down with the weights on my chest to hard before going back up. My chest popped then(12 years ago). And sometimes it hurts to lay on my side at night. It gets it in a bind I guess. This is very rare though. and it pops rarely too. This may have damaged the cartlidge or whatever is in the breast bone / sternum. Its higher up my chest. and it does feel tight when it pops. may be from over working myself. or doing something in a particular position.

  29. Man! I also have this and starts to get worried. at first it seems like a great feeling to pop it but i’m getting worried. When I put my hands together and curve my upper body, i could feel the stiffness in the sternum. I hope this isn’t something serious. I suspect it’s because I don’t exercise and my body is complaining but I’ve read that you guys are exercising and still have this thing. What could this be? I hope to hear updates from other posters.

    • Looks like I am a part of the mysterious “sternum popping” club, too. I’ve had this problem for maybe 1.5 – 2 years now. And like almost everyone here, I lift weights (upper body twice a week), I slouch in chairs, and have slept on my stomach all my life. I’ve been weightlifting since freshman year in high school (13 years ago), and I don’t know why this problem has arose just over the last couple years. Glad I finally found the right ‘keywords’ to put into the search engine, because up until this thread, I’ve been unable to find relevant information on this… I guess since there’s no definitive solution, I’ll just have to improve my posture and pay attention to my sleeping position…

  30. After doing research on the internet, Im quite surprised to see how many people actually have the same problem.My cracking sternum started about 4 years ago, about 8 months into when I started weight training. Id get stiffness in my chest and Id have to stretch to ease it. Made me panic a bit the first time it actually cracked! Ive been to the doctors several times and been for x-rays and blood tests. But nothing! They cant seem to tell me what the problem is. Ive basically been told to stop doing weights for a while and take painkillers when the pain gets really bad. Sometimes it hurts that much I can feel the pain in my back and I have to sit up straight with my shoulders back.Im currently on my 3rd week of not doing weights and yet Ive not noticed any difference. I actually feel better when I lift weights! Im trying not to crack it as much but this seems to cause me more pain sometimes. Im going to the doctors again soon to see if I can get a referral to a physiotherapist, see if they can help in anyway, but I doubt it.

    • I’ve had pain near my sternum for a year and a half now, it started after I got into lifting weights. It started to pop after I had to take some manual labor jobs about a year ago, it pops when I arch my back and it relieves pressure for about an hour. I think it is related to a back injury. I am 23, I exercise a lot. I am heavy into cycling and running and it nevers hurts during this, but I cannot do dips, and push-ups are difficult to get serious about, before the popping I was doing a lot, 500-800 a day was not unusual, but now I can only manage 100 push-ups a day. Some times I cannot do chin-ups because of the pain. I haven’t seen a doctor in over ten years so i just decided to come online to check it out, I am going to see a massage therapist.The one thing that does help is swimming. It relieves pain in my back and chest

  31. Hi all, I’ve dealt with this problem for some time now, starting in 2002. I basically had a chest cold that caused a prolonged, intense cough, that lastest months. Once the cough subsided, I had this lingering chest pain. Initially, it wasn’t really “crackable” – just an ache in the center of my chest. Over time, it seemed to “migrate to my back” and the same irratation existed there as well. I’ve noticed that my collarbone joints sort of “grind” or “grate” when I move my arms, and the same with my shoulder blades. I even have had numbness in my arms (usually while sleeping). Of course, I had all the standard test to prove that I wasn’t dying.Most of you probably know that costochondritis is the common diagnosis for these types of symptoms. I wanted to share with you some things that have helped me over the years.Listing weights helps me. I’m not saying it will help you too, but it helps me. There is a condition called hyper-mobility that basically means that one’s joints are naturally loose, and exercise helps keep the body together. Google hypermobility for more info.Acid Reflux is a factor for me. Sometimes when I drink coffee, or have too much coke, I get some discomfort in my throat and sinuses. Typically, this makes my costo symptoms worse. Driking water helps be reducing reflux and nourishing the joints. I’ve also taken glucosamine and this tends to help as well.Cracking, or arching my back, DOES NOT HELP. I have found that this makes things worse. I have a bit of an obsessive/compulsive personality, so once I found that I could “pop” my joints I just habitually did it, hoping that that one last “pop” would be the cure. I have found that the cracking that is coming from my back an sternum is most likely joints that are trying to heal. This “cracking” isn’t the same sensation as popping the knuckles, or going to the chiropractor. It’s more of a smaller “crackling” or “grating” sensation, as you might have with a severly sprained ankle. Try to keep a proper, comfortable posture, and refrain from moving in any way that causes the pain.”Slipping rib syndrome”, which is related to costo, might be a more accurate version of what I have, since my pain come from a specific part of my back, and specific part of my sternum (both on the right). If you google “slipping rib syndrome” you will find a treatment called prolotherapy. I haven’t tried prolo, but if anyone has, respond back.Lastly, and obviously, I find that stress creates a great deal of pain. This is one of those things that folks need to find out what works best for them to remove the stress (working out, fishing, yoga, whatever).Hope this helps.

  32. Hey guys ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve had this problem for almost a year now and I’m only 17. It started around June 2005 when I started lifting weights, and first began as just an unbearable pain in my chest (I lifted on this one thing.. dont know what it is called – you lie on your stomach and pull the weights up.. afterward i went to do some push-ups and i couldnt even get up it hurts so bad) I’m a very fit guy planning to enter the USMC soon. This cracking problem is just really annoying and I was wondering if there is a way to get it fixed ๐Ÿ™‚ preferably not by surgery

  33. my sternum pops alot too. it doesnt hurt. if i lay on my side and breathe in and out it pops with each breath. it started when i started stretching more than usual and also around the time i started doing lots of backbends.

  34. im 22 over weight and my sternum does the exact something, and pops up 2 15 times an hour, if i arch my back and apply a little bit of pressure to my chest by tightening it, or simple pushing in gently with my hand

  35. Yep, I got it too. I’ve had this knuckle like cracking from my sternum for about 2 years now and I’ve asked my doctor about it and he said it was nothing to worry about. Depending on the situation, usually due to stress and poor posture, the “popping” can actually become painful. I’ve found that stretching and Pilates has helped out, but still the “popping” is still there. I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone and that others are still alive and managing through this. Does anyone who has this tight sternum, have any sort of other “cartilage” pain anywhere else? I’ve had tendon pain in my knee and also lower back pain as well. My knee will pop but the back is more muscular in pain. Thanks for all of your posts… pop your sternum one time for me!

    • Thank God! I was thinking that there was something horribly wrong with me… I am so glad I’m not the only one. Despite what the doctors say, it hurts! I can’t breathe untill I can get it to ‘pop’ back in/out/where ever it’s supposed to be! If I can’t get it to pop from pulling my shoulders together, I will stand in a doorway with my arms straight out, and step forward untill the muscle & bone there pulls and it finally pops. I cant seem to find any medical reasons for this… Anyone know what causes it yet?

  36. Holy mackerel! Funny thing is I was having a humdinger and couldn’t get the damn thing to “POP”. I was trying everything. Until I reached up with my arms and bent as far back as I could and it cracked with a thunderous blow. Scared the hell out of my wife, who by the way thinks it’s gross. I have recently started working out again and dips are a part of my routine. I can also say that my back is much weaker than my chest. I have started focusing on strengthening my back to see if it helps. Later my fellow “poppers”.

  37. I have been going bananas with this. It has been 3 years of sternal discomfort and it has oonly been getting worese. I also need to take a deep breath frequently. I have been t a pulonologist who thinks my issue is GI related. GI thinks I should follow up with pulmonary. I have stopped lifting weights for a month and that hasn’t helped. In fact, I feel best when I lift. I flex my chest inward and it cracks, that has been going on for only a few months. Rarely if I lie on my side on a hard surface I can cramp up. I feel nothing on the outside it all appears to be inside the chest wall. Anyone find a solution other then meds.PS stay away from COX 2 drugs.

  38. Wow, add me to list of people with tight or popping sternums!Mine pretty much hurts in a way that constantly feels like I need to pop it. When it does pop, it hurts. From what I’ve noticed, it seems to worsen if my chest is collapsed (versus pushed out) like in slouching, or as someone mentioned earlier, chin going towards my chest. I sleep on my side, and I think this creates a similar effect. I think when the chest collapses it causes the ribs to move inward putting pressure on my sternum.When I pull my arms/shoulders back, it pulls the ribs away from the sternum, creating an opposite effect, relieving the pressure on my sternum.If this is a cartilage/ligament issue, I wonder if there is a way to immobilize it in the “non-pressured” state long enough for it to heal properly?

  39. Hey guys same problem right here.First some pain in one place of the sternum, tightness and all. Later on it ‘seemd to spread a little over the rest of the sternum the popping ord cracking also seemd to spread. Instead of one or two cracks a day. I can now crack it it two time an hour and it are multiple crackes. It now can be popped so loud that other people can hear it. I also do quite a bit of weightlifting.Got a question though. Sometimes when I lie in bed I can feel some pain caused by lying on my side the pressure of my weight seems to compresse my chest somewhat (In the sternum). Very uncomfortable. Also aplying pressure with my hand to the sternum feels very unpleasend.Anyone has these problems aswell.I’m 30 years oldGreatings from holland

  40. I’ve had this exact problem for approximately 6 or 7 years now. It seems to come and go. I sit in front of the computer a lot and I’m sure that has something to do with it. Yesterday I had to lay down on the tile floor to get under the desk. I was on my back and when I went all of the way down, CRACK in my chest. In the past this was not painful and actually felt relieving and I asked people if they did it too. Even nurses would say “don’t be silly there is nothing there to pop”. My body says otherwise. my 2 cents

  41. I’ve had the same problem on and off (mostly on) for three years. I have horrible posture, very definitely tight chest muscles and short achilles tendons which aggravate my posture problem when walking. Here’s my problem: when I jog, it gets REALLY bad… it feels like angina or something. Thing is, if I’m on a bike working really hard, it’s no problem. What the hey? Any clues? P.S. I’m 27, in good shape.

  42. I have been suffering from this problem for two years. It is extremely painful and yes the popping is the only thing that gives relief. How long will it last and is there any medication that helps?

  43. I can’t believe so many people have this issue like me! i get pain in the front left hand side of my chest, right next to my sternum, and if i bend back i can feel my ribs popping, i also get minor pain down my left sholder, which is being cause from a pinched nerve, from what i can tell at least, i go to a chiropractor every week and it helps but i do good bit of lifting at work and my posture isnt really the greatest (im 20, 168 and 5′ 10″ so its not a weight issue) however im also a guitarist and that might not be the greatest thing for my ribs having a 4-10 pound guitar on that shoulder(i have several of em)

    • I am not able to get a “popping” sound, but when i lean backwards with my arms stretched backwards, i sometimes get a sound similar to that you get when you tear a piece of cloth apart o_O Is this the same or is it something else? It doesn’t really hurt, but it nevertheless feels like getting getting rid of some tension that has built up in my chest, kind of relieving..

  44. also, someone mentioned here bout slouching, that and poor posture while sleeping will start your day off with chest discomfort. If you’re pillows are too high and your head is in a position where your chin is close to touching your chest, this shortens the muscles, thus you wake a stand up straight, it pulls thise tight shortened muscles. I was told that correct sleepig posture is NEVER sleep on your stomach, and when on your back, your head positio should be where your eyes and nose are pointing straight to the ceiling, giving that natural S curve in the neck. I am real gulity of this and I a considering sleeping with a cervical collar (the one people get for whiplash) to correct my neck position. Hope this helps! Any feedback of remedies that have helped, please email me!thanks again!

  45. Man am I glad I found this post! I am 41, run 6 times a week and lift (used to) 3 times a week. Mine started about 2 weeks ago and after reading these posts, I know I did it doing dips and bench press along with chest flys. So I am gonna lay off these for awhile. I have also read that anxiety can cause the costal inflammation due to the “bracing” affect that happens when under stress. Most people do not breathe correctly when under stress and anxiety, causing the chest muscles to shorten. I have been under great anxiety the last few months, so this with the chest excerise really tweaked it. I hear bad posture can contribute too. Laying on a heating pad for twenty minutes does wonders. Massage really can’t do much since it’s deep and not alot to massage. But it’s a weird feeling, I see most of you have had it for awhile, so I am not used to it yet, at first I thought I was having a heart attack! But pulling my shoulders back I can feel the tightness. Like another post, my feels ok when I run, aerobic exercise, but kinda comes back as I cool down. I am kinda bummed that most of you say it hasn’t ever gone away completely. If anyone has had success with any treatment that has completey healed you, please post! thanks!

  46. Mine started when I was younger (13 or so) only after I woke up and stretched it would pop but there was no pain. It went away for years and came back about a year ago (21) when I was throwing up and it popped. Ever since then I will wake up to it popping, and it pops every morning and sometimes it gets so tight and painful it won’t pop and it’s extremly hard to breathe and move. I haven’t had any injuries, I exorcise on and off and the popping doesn’t coinside with this, I weigh 115 lbs so I’m not over weight, but I have noticed that the popping comes from the left side of the sternum and my rib cage on the left side is uneven with the right (it sticks out more) and it has always been this way. please let me know if anyone has ideas that they trust are right…marygriley@yahoo.com. thanks

  47. I have never been to the doctor for mine and it doesnt hurt me. I used to be a swimmer and a big lifter. I am just wondering why mine doesnt hurt like everyone elses. for me it is just like popping my knuckles, they dont hurt but it does feel good.

  48. James. I have had this looked at by my family Doctor and he said not to worry about it but I wanted a second opinion.

  49. : I have the same kind of problem but my chest has always popped but only recently has it bothered me and i beleive it was from this ballistic way of stretching that i was doing that probably hurt the ligaments or whatever. I have been using one of those heating pads that you use on your back, on my chest and it seems to help it heal. Im no doctor but it helps me so you might try it and hopefully it will help you

  50. Hi,
    I’m gald that I have found other people who suffer from this complaint. Mine has been doing it for about 6 years now, when I started lifting weights. Im 25 now, and I dont do weights that often anymore, but the “popping” only comes back after I have done them. If I rest for a few months, it goes away. I did some weights again recently and the pain came back quite badly – it hurts if I breathe all the way in, and the pain has gone to my back too.I think I will have to go back to the doctor who last time told me I was “making it up”.

  51. I’ve experienced tightness and popping in my sternum since 1991. Shortly after lifting a heavy object while in the Airforce, I began experiencing difficulting breathing, tightness in the chest, and a dull pain accompanied by popping or cracking. My sternum would get really tight and I actually found some relief by pulling my shoulders back and cracking it. The doctor in the Airforce said it was just costal chondritis or inflammation of the cartlidge. Since I was at a remote site, medical care was pretty limited. After getting out of the Airforce, I seeked medical care at the veterans hospital. Doctors there too said it was costal chondritis and sent me home with Motrin (2400 mg per day). The pain never went away and I was still not convinced of the diagnosis. So, I went repeatedly to my private physician complaining of this pain. I received a chest x-ray which didn’t reveal anything. She too said that I had costal chondritis. She gave me a couple cortisone injections to the cartlidge area between the ribs and the sternum. I felt pretty good for a little while, but I think that the relief came from the lidocaine portion of the injection rather than the cortisone itself. I think that all the medical providers thought that the problem was mental, and I was beginning to think that too. I do admit that my search for an answer was really wearing me out.
    Still I knew I had to find out what was wrong. My doctor eventually sent me to a rheumatologist, who ordered a bone scan of the sternum area. Meanwhile, I was undergoing physical therapy to relieve the pain, which consisted of ultra-sound. I finally had the bone scan, which actually revealed a problem.
    The rheumatologist told me that the bone scan showed enough concern that he ordered a CT scan. The CT scan showed that I had a fractured sternum at the manubrial joint. I was just relieved that the problem was not all in my head. My story is long, and I know I’ve left out some details. I’ve had other procedures since to try and fix the injury, but my sternum still hurts today. I don’t know if this is the same problem that others here have. Please be aware that a regular x-ray did not reveal that I had a fracture or a non-union of the sternum. I think your best course of action is to have either a CT scan or an MRI of the sterum area. It can be very frustrating and depressing to experience pain and not know why.

    • I was diagnosed with costal chondritis after a vehicular accident. Luckily that popping joint was never part of the problem. I was given physical therapy exercises for disc injuries, etc. Then I noticed a round bump on my upper sternum. I am sure it is associated with the accident; after reading your article I now think it could be a reinforcing bone knot grown over a crack in the sternum (caused by seat belt pressure from the accident). But how would such a ‘non-union’ be stabilized? They can’t put a cast on it.I try to sleep on my back to keep my rib joints stabilized to foster healing. Sleep time is the longest duration of immobility that I can arrange. I think I have been making good progress. I will consider myself completely healed when I can lie on either side for as long as I want with no difficulties experienced; and when I can walk as far as I want without abnormal sensation under my sternum or between my shoulder blades.

  52. i have the pain as well. it started 2 years ago when i was weight training alot in the army. started as just cracking, not alot of pain. now that i have stopped lifting it hurts much more. hurts worse after i sleep on my back. as all of you have i have read many articles about people with the same problem, no answers. bolts in the chest? first time ive heard that. i tried to start working out again, basicly just pushups and it was not comfortable at all.sounds like there isnt much we can do. if i ever figure out a cure or it goes away ill let everyone know.

  53. I too am experiencing these symptoms. About three months ago I was experiencing really bad headaches. After a number of visits to my GP I was told I was suffering from job stress. In addition to the headaches I started to develop a pain in my sternum which wasn’t constant, it would come and go at regular intervals. I also had a tightness in my chest which wasn’t affected by my breathing. My GP told me this was purely an injury to the chest cavity and nothing serious. However three months on I still have it. It isn’t getting any worse but its not getting any better either. I also noticed that it goes away when I exercise. I do not know what causes this but my father, an orthopaedic surgeon himself, told me that I am suffering from costal chondritis and “it just happens”, it doesnt have to be caused by an injury. Does anyone else experience this and have they got rid of it or is it here to stay?!

  54. Hey, nice to see I’m not alone. Well I wont go into my symptoms, if you’ve read any of the other postings you know what my problem is. Just got back from the Accident & Emergency, quickest visit I’ve ever had, straight in for my ECG, consultation and Xray, just to be told that nothing’s wrong. It all started 2 – 3 years ago, pain wasn’t to severe then, but the pain seems to increase each time now, and like every one else I can pop it back by stretching or coughing… (not this time though :?( ). Think I’ll try a trip to the GP and see what he has to say about my research. Keep you posted as to what he says.

  55. I have been experiencing pain in sternum for the last several months. Like everyone else, I found relief in popping the sternum. This past weekend I started having pain in my sternum and wasn’t able to “pop” it to get any relief. I also felt the pain through my back and right shoulder blade. I saw a massage therapist who worked on my back, neck, and pectorial muscles. She said that my top rib on the left was stretched upward and pulling away from the sternum. I am going to discuss the problem with my primary care doctor and see if there is any new information. As others have said, the pain is most definitely “bone” pain. Although I do not feel as much tightness in my chest following massage, I still cannot pop the sternum, and I continue to have pain.

  56. the symptoms that you mention are mine! i went to the emergency room at least twenty times–with all the heart exams three times– until one doctor told me it was the cartilege. My situation usually acts up in the afternoon. Any suggestions on pain relief? I tried ibuprofen but that didn’t work.

  57. Yesterday I went to see a Cardio-Thoracic surgeon about the same problem you are having. It’s been over a year since this happened to me and I think my chest healed wrongly. After my chest pops the tension is released and it begins to feel better. The surgeon I went to see told me that it was a Sternum- Manubrial disruption. He told me that the top piece that attaches to the sternum has popped and healed incorrectly and in my case, by coughing or stretching your arms back it usually pops back in to place. The surgeon basically told me that I’m not in any danger and if I should learn to live with it. It I want to do something about it they can put a couple bolts in my upper chest and that should fix the problem. I’m not sure I want to go that route. This happened to me while training martial arts. I can still train just like I used to but sometimes it hurts. We’ll see what happens.Scott

    • I also got my clicking sternum from martial arts. Someone jumped on my chest. I reckon once the sternum is fractured it rarely heals, and occassionally pops. I guess improving posture through Tai Chi, Yoga, Pilates or Alexander Technique etc… may help?I am trying some of but can’t tell you results yet.

  58. Ok, me too. It just started a couple of weeks ago and I was scared that there was something wrong with my heart! Mine is not painful, just uncomfortable. Yada yada….

  59. Unbeleivable…I thought i was alone..but now i am not thank god. The past year I have been feeling a tightness an a crackling sound, just a bit to the left side of my sternum. I was really worried and still am a bit. I looked into this Prolotherapy stuff and it sounds really good. I think I may have damaged something that cannot fully heal unless i get something like this done.Im only 24! i have so many things i want to do. This injury is really holding me back. If anyone has any luck in getting rid of this, please please let me know. Email -lcorreia@swiftdsl.com.au

  60. There are a wide variety of causes to these symptoms (which I share). In my case, the ‘popping’ can either produce OR relieve chest pain, difficulty breathing, and nausea. These, you may notice, are symptoms associated with heart trouble.However, several visits to the doctor eliminated any heart/lung/blood problems, so I began to look around on my own.Check out Tietze’s Syndrome, Slipping Rib Syndrome, and Costochondritis. These are often interchangable, and account for many of the symptoms you are all describing. These syndromes generally point to ligament damage where the rib connects to the sternum, sometimes in the upper rib cage, sometimes in the lower. In any event, I hope this helps.

  61. I am 19 and have had this same problem as all you….pain in my chest having to pop it to make the pain go away! it is so irritating and painful! I canot afford to lose weight as suggested by these dr.s some of you say….I am 95 lbs very healthy female. but when I approaced my Dr. She simply said ” I never heard such stupid complaint before.” and walked away!!! I thought i was alone but i guess not ! makes me somewhat happy. anyone can help? let me know!

  62. Have had this for over 2 years.I am a non-smoker, avid athlete.I think this may have came about during US Navy training in S.D. where we were doing dip exercises. Trainees are motivated to get on dip bar, pump out a few and then go into ‘down’ position and HOLD it.After that and after dips from now on, i feel Severe tightness. I’m sure that this is related. Doctors always give me run around. I crack my sternum by moving my left shoulder backthen arching my entire back to the rear.Good luck to you all.aj

  63. hi there,i am amazed at how many people have the same thing i do. I slouch at the computer alot and even in college during classes. every time i sit up i feel a pressure in my chest. i arch and pull my arms back and lift my chest cavity and it used to be just one pop.. but now i can pop it like 5 times. its been going on for one year now.. sometimes it hurts to pop/crack it sometimes it dosnt. on three occasions i’ve had it lock on me.. it is so painful… in those times- if i let my shoulders fall forward it hurts like hell… i’ve been to hospital for it. i’ve had a cat scan on it. i’ve seen four doctors. and all said it was to do with posture and and anddd muscle problems in the chest. so doing some stretches to stretch the chest muscles each day should help.well i better gogood luck everyoneand do those stretches.

    • It happens every day several times a day and it is extremely painful, that is how you can pop your sternum. Theragesic releives some of the pain, apply as much as possible

  64. : I actually crack my sternum about two years ago .I really have no idea if ii was really harmful or any thing so I didn’t take it to mind .but some times my middle lower part of my ribs hurts and it pokes out a little bit.

  65. I dont understand this site… I have the same problem my sternum is tight and i pop it how do i fix this problem? am i not flexible enough? just general bad health i amassuming? is it from the chemicals like arsenic or formaldahide in cigarette smoke? this doctor put this here so he could be of help to us.. there are soooo many posts here i doub he can get to them all …

    • I have had a popping sternum for three years now and have had little hope for cure until now. I thought sleeping on my side made it hurt more, and it did. Sleeping on my back or stomach only makes it feel better, not cure the problem. My ribs are fine. X-rays show nothing. Chiropractor helps temorarily. Slow stretching 10 whole minutes a day helps A LOT. I also feel that my sternum is somehow connected to the middle of my back because right before it painfully pops, my shoulder blade area and in the middle of my back also tighten up. (Probably from the nerves and muscles.) I’ve rolled on a tennis ball which helps a lot along with stretching. Dips are PAINFUL. Push-ups on the floor seems to be the main trigger in the quickest way. I used to work out in the gym but never paid any attention to my back muscles because who needs back muscles? It’s all about the chest. WELL, I stopped doing push-ups on the floor. I now benchpress AND work out my back at the same time during the workout and my sternum no longer pops and I can sleep on my side. I think the weak back muscles and over pumped chest muscles was the problem. It’s been three years living in hell trying to figure it out… and I DID. I still can’t do dips, only everything else (and minus the floor push-ups which triggers the popping.) Good luck to all of you. –Andrew

  66. I am in gymnastics and I am only 17 years old. When I do back handsprings, by sternum continuously clicks. Kind of like when you pop your fingers. It is a little painful sometimes, and I am concerned if I should do cheerleading next year.

    • Hi. I am another affected person. I feel a tight pressure on the upper sternum every once in a while. I have rarely gotten a crack out of it. Does anyone know what it is? It hurts like a mother right now. How can I fix it? Please email any findings to me! thx-David

      • To whom this may concern, My sternum pops alot and sometimes its really tight and causes great severe pain. Sometimes I think its a heart attack but I am only 20 years old and I have delt with this for 3 years now. My doctor can’t find out what is wrong. Or they didn’t take me seriously and said I’m healthy that pain is nothing. I need some advice or something! Please help me.

  67. I’ve had the same problem for a few months. I sit at a desk and am tall, so posture/slumping shoulders is frequently a problem for me. Feel stiffness (again, in the sternum, not deeper in the chest), and it pops occassionally.
    I gave blood yesterday evening, and today is the worst day I’ve had, which is why I’m on the net lookingfor answers. Made me wonder if it is a question of good circulation/oxygen supply, since I am still not 100% this morning from my general lack of red-blood cells. I don’t work out much, so that could definitely be a factor for me even on a good day.

  68. It just started perhaps 3-4 months ago. I am a long time (16 years) computer user and am very good about correct posture. I used to work out regularly and am getting back into it . . . doesn’t seem to be helping any.Relief only comes through popping by streching my arms back and lifting my chest cavity. Sometimes it is painful to pop and other times there is no pain at all. I also experience slight popping in my shoulders and neck sometimes when I am trying to pop my sternum. Curiously enough, I have found when it is really tight that drinking a couple of beers really makes for easy painless popping. I’m going to see my doctor in the next 2 weeks, will post my doc’s findings.

    • Hi Frank & others,I have had this a few times. Just yesterday it hit me before I was going to the gym. It was severe and debilitating. It went away after trying to relax and breathing deep. But it never popped. I went ahead with the gym. This morning I woke up with the same pain. And it has continued for more than half the day. I have attempted to pop it to no avail. It is extremely painful when doing the following movements (using excersizes to demonstrate arm movements) Any suggestions? Any one experienced these symptoms? I am currently typing with a heating pad strapped to my chest.

  69. doctor says costochondritis (inflammation of the cartilage). lose weight, change diet, regular exercise – might go away in a few months. no sure cure.

  70. I am trying to figure the same thing out…I am sure it is tightness related to lifting (dips especially cause it for me), this is the first time i cant get it to crack away. please let me know if you find anything out.

    • I sternum problem is different. I sternum have been popping out of my chest for as long as i can remember. i have tried to do research on it but to no avail. Pls help

  71. Well, like most of you here I think I got the same thing. I liked someone’s mention of it sounding like tearing cloth when i stretch my sternum. Here’s some commonalities I’ve found in these posts which also apply to me I’ve also been told by a chiropractor that it could be something out of place in my back that’s causing the issue. Now maybe they are just biding for a return visit, but he did crack my back all the way down, and my chest popping went away for about a month. Perhaps he earned his return visit and I should see if it fixes it again.- Nate

  72. Ok, it is somewhat of a relief that so many of you have this sternum popping problem bc I was afraid it was serious. My trip to the doctor the other day ended with “its just growing pains” and “this is uncommon”. Well Ive come to find out in my own research that this is a problem of cartilage connected to the sternum that is out of place or stretched which is relieved by popping the cartilage back into place. Unfortunately I have found myself trying to pop this cartilage several times a day. So I think I am going to try diff. approaches to naturally healing the possibly inflammed joints by using a warm cloth over my chest and by sleeping in a diff. position at night. It seems that because I sleep on my side, it could be part of the reason for the cartilage displacement. Thats all I know! Don’t worry…if this many of us share this problem and results show no traumatizing answers, I will go with the obvious… if its not broke dont fix it. Maybe we are looking to far into a popping joint? Good luck

  73. I have this same tighness and popping of my sternum going on two or three years now. It started out as an occasional thing now it is very frequent like 9 or 10 times a day. I am only 24. Not only does my sternum pop but every joint inmy body. It is embarrasing. I used to work out alot but since all the popping I’ve been a little scared. I’ve been to the doctor, they say its nothing, and my teacher is a chiropractor, he says it’s nothing. If ya’ll hear anything please let me know.

  74. I am stunned to see that there are so many people that share this problem. My sternum has been cracking for about 3 months. One thing I have noticed is that slouching doesn’t help. Pushing my chest out seems to help. Its when my spine is curved ie. chin almost touching chest, that it gets tight. I read before I go to bed and up until recently, it was in a position that had put pressure on my upper back. Im going to change position and see if this could eliminate my problem

  75. One way I releave this pain is to lay on my stomach. It seems great when you flatten out the chest. I also read that response for someone that said burping releaved the pain and this is true in my case as well.

  76. I have this too!!I’ve had this problem seriously bad the last 3 weeks and my sternum pops every morning and gets tight.. I know this is the same problem as others because about 2 years ago it really hurt when doing dips (working out), although it never popped until recently. I haven’t been smoking for about a week now and that didn’t seem to help. I’m going to see the doctor in a week, and I’ll report his response. The other fellow said to lose weight, change diet and exercise, and it would go away— well I’m 19, 140 lbs, skateboard a lot, and eat very healthy. I don’t think that his plan would quite work.. Hmm. Hope this is curable. –Adam Anyone who knows more about this problem please email me at crimson@mcleodusa.net

  77. I have the same problem I think. I can arch my back when I feel some discomfort in the sternum area and then I get a cracking sound like a “roomful of people cracking their knuckles at once” other facts 2) I was assaulted a few years ago–someone blindsided me and hit me in the sternum. It was quite sore for a long time but the cracking did not start right away. 3) Indigestion seems to accompany the sternum discomfort and belching along with cracking it seems to give relief
    Can someone please give me insight into what my problem might be? I am starting to worry.
    Thanks, Eddie

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