Sternum pain and arthritis

by Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR

Nathan Wei is a nationally known board-certified rheumatologist and author of the Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit. It's available exclusively at this website... not available in stores.

Click here: Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

It is always very important that a careful history and examination is performed in order to establish a clear diagnosis of any chest pain.

Tietze Syndrome is an inflammatory condition of the breast area. It is also known as costochondritis.

Chostochodritis is an inflammation of the cartilage junction where the ribs join the sternum. The condition causes localized chest pain that can be reproduced by pushing on the cartilage in the front of the ribcage.

Tietze syndrome usually affects the bone-cartilage junctions of the second and third ribs. The swelling may last for several months. The syndrome can develop as a complication of surgery on the sternum.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are used for the pain, and sometimes local injections of corticosteroids are required.

In women, breast pain is cyclical or non-cyclical. In cyclical breast pain there is a relationship with the menstrual cycle. A number of other conditions can give rise to non-cyclical pain in the breast. In these conditions, the pain is not related to the menstrual cycle. Such conditions include inflammation of the costochondral junctions (Tietze syndrome), trauma, fat necrosis, fibroadenomas and breast cysts.

Septic arthritis is an infection in the joint. The infection usually reaches the joint(s) though the bloodstream, although some joints may become infected due to an injection, surgery, or injury. Among intravenous drug users, joints such as those in the spine or sternum (breastbone) may be involved. People who have rheumatoid arthritis or other joint disease are more likely to develop infectious arthritis. Septic arthritis is considered a medical emergency.

Ankylosing spondylitis (AS) is a chronic inflammatory form of arthritis that affects the spinal joints. The hallmark feature of AS is the involvement of the sacroiliac (SI) joints.

AS is three times more common in men than in women. It typically affects young people, beginning between the ages of 15 and 30. Onset after age 40 is uncommon.

Of the non-spinal joints, the hips are the most commonly involved and to a lesser extent the knees and shoulders. Involvement of the small joints of the hands and feet, wrists and ankles is unusual.

The joints between the ribs and the spine and between the ribs and the breast bone (sternum) can also become painful and stiff. Stiffness of these joints can result in decreased chest expansion.

Sternum pain may also occur as a consequence of bypass surgery for heart disease.

Fibromyalgia is a common condition characterized by widespread pain in joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft tissues. Some other problems commonly linked to fibromyalgia include fatigue, morning stiffness, sleep problems, headaches, numbness in hands and feet, depression, and anxiety. Fibromyalgia can develop on its own, or be secondary to other musculoskeletal conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, or systemic lupus.

Diagnosis of fibromyalgia requires a history of a least three months of widespread pain, and pain and tenderness in at least 11 of 18 tender-point sites. These tender-point sites include fibrous tissue or muscles of the:

• Neck
• Shoulders
• Chest including sternum
• Rib cage
• Lower back
• Thighs
• Knees
• Arms (elbows)
• Buttocks

The major characteristic of fibromyalgia is long-standing, body-wide pain with defined tender points.

Fibromyalgia pain can mimic the pain that occurs with various types of arthritis.

The soft-tissue pain of fibromyalgia is described as deep-aching, radiating, gnawing, shooting or burning, and ranges from mild to severe. Fibromyalgia sufferers tend to wake up with body aches and stiffness.

Some evidence suggests that fibromyalgia patients have abnormal pain transmission responses.

Pilot studies have shown a possible inherited tendency toward the disease, though evidence is very preliminary.

The disorder has an increased frequency among women 20 to 50 years old. The prevalence of the disease has been estimated between 0.7% and 13% for women, and between 0.2% and 3.9% for men.


• Multiple tender areas (muscle and joint pain) on the back of the neck, shoulders, sternum, lower back, hips, shins, elbows, knees.
• Fatigue
• Sleep disturbances
• Body aches
• Reduced exercise tolerance
• Chronic facial muscle pain or aching

A number of tests may be done to rule out other disorders. An examination reveals multiple tender areas on the back of the neck, shoulders, sternum, lower back, hips, shins, elbows, or knees.

Sometimes, laboratory and x-ray tests are done to help confirm the diagnosis. The tests will also rule out other conditions that may have similar symptoms.

Conditions reported as associated with fibromyalgia or that mimic its symptoms include: rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, cervical and low-back degenerative disease, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disorders, depression, cancer, and HIV infection.

Get more information about sternum pain and arthritis as well as...

• Insider arthritis tips that help you erase the pain and fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis almost overnight!

• Devastating ammunition against low back pain... discover 9 secrets!

• Ignored remedies that eliminate fibromyalgia symptoms quickly!

• Obsolete treatments for knee osteoarthritis that still are used... and may still work for you!

• The stiff penalties you face if you ignore this type of hip pain...

• 7 easy-to-implement neck pain remedies that work like a charm!

• And much more...

Click here Second Opinion Arthritis Treatment Kit

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