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Orthopedics/Chest pain, sternum area


Hi Dr. Durnin,

I get occasional pain that "feels like" it's in the sternum area, just slight to the right. My pec muscles are pretty well developed & I can tell you the pain is not in the big muscle just under the skin.  It's closer to if not at bone level.  It's intermittent pain & the VAST majority of the time I feel nothing (pain free/normal).  3 days ago I had several flare up throughout the day (last from 5 seconds up to several minutes).  This has gone away since.  I have lifted weights for 20 years & play tennis.  I take big ground strokes in tennis.  I was scared because this pain is near my heart but my cardiologist thinks I'm ok since I have no chest pain during intense cardio sessions.  I can push it really hard on the bike & I never get chest pain.

I don't know if there are underlying muscles that could cause cartilage in the area to experience pain...this is an area I know little about.

Do you think this problem could be sports related...due to overuse or something?  


Hi James,

Sounds like a classic case of sterno-costochondritis which has no swelling or (Tietze syndrome) which does. It is an inflammation due to injury or overuse of the rib/breast bone attachment site. Resting it and taking anti-inflammatories with ice can help speed recovery but it can linger for months if ignored. This area heals slow because the cartilage in question has very poor blood supply resulting in very long recovery times. Avoid putting direct pressure over the area and anything else that stresses this area. To learn more about it, Google it since now you have a starting point. Both are benign conditions and don't require much, if any, medical intervention. I trust you had the Cardiologist look at this since giving a precise diagnosis without physical examination is foolhardy.

Hope this helps..

Dr. Timothy K. Durnin


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Dr. Timothy K. Durnin


I can answer any and all questions relevant to orthopedics, orthopedic surgery, postoperative care, prevention and advice on latest procedures.


20 years in private practice treating primarily orthopedic conditions, Co-admitter Olympia Fields Osteopathic Hospital (Level I Trauma Center)- Many Chicago Bulls Patients

AASP (American Association of Spine Physicians ACA (American Chiropractic Association) ICA (Illinois Chiropractic Association)

BS/DC National University of Health Sciences 1991 Board Certified AMA impairment Ratings Presidential Cabinet Member NHUS

Awards and Honors
Who's Who/Doctor of the year award 1999/Presidential Cabinet Member NHUS

Past/Present Clients
Many Professional Athletes

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