Bones in the Chest
By Robert Lim, PTA
Bones in the Chest
The bones in the chest are very vital in protecting vital organs from injury, and also provide structural support for the upper body. The thorax is commonly known as the chest. The bones in the chest are the thoracic vertebrae, the twelve pairs of ribs, and the sternum. Connecting the upper ten pairs of ribs to the sternum is the costal cartilage.
When talking about bones in the chest, let’s first start off with the rib cage. The rib cage is one of the body’s best defenses from injury from impact. The ribs and sternum make up the ribcage. The rib cage protects major vital organs such as the heart, lungs, and liver from injury. The rib cage has 24 ribs. Each rib extends from the spinal cord and wraps around the body.
The Chest Bones
With regards to bones in the chest, the sternum, or also known as the breastbone, is a long flat bone in the center of the chest. Its big purpose is to protect the heart. The sternum is attached to the first seven ribs and also to the clavicle, or collarbone. The sternum is made up of three parts called the manubrium, the body, and the xiphoid process. The top of the sternum is called the manubrium.
It is connected to the first two ribs of the rib cage. The body, also called the blade, is right in the middle of the sternum. It connects to the third through seventh ribs and the eighth through tenth ribs indirectly. The xiphoid process is the bottom tip of the sternum. Rib pairs one through seven are called ‘true ribs’ because they connect directly to the sternum with costal cartilage. Rib pairs eight through ten are called ‘false ribs’ because they are connected to the seventh rib.
Pain in the Sternum
If you are experiencing pain in the sternum you may think you are having a heart attack. More than likely sternum pain is unrelated to the heart and is caused by problems with the cartilage of the sternum or the sternum itself.
The most common causes of pain in the sternum are:
- Muscular strain
- Collarbone injury
- Sternum fracture
The clavicle, or also known as the collarbone, extends across the front of the shoulder from the sternum to the scapula, or shoulder blade. An injury to this bone is commonly is due to an impact on the area such as a fall or hit when playing sports.
Collarbone pain, also known as clavicle pain can be caused by a fracture, bone infection, or arthritis. Symptoms of clavicle pain include:
- A bulge over the collarbone
- Tenderness at the collarbone
- Pain when moving arm
- Decreased range of motion of the arm
- Shooting pain up neck or down arm
The scapula, or shoulder blade, is a flat triangular bone located in the back of the shoulder. It connects with the collarbone in the front of the body. It is also is connected to the shoulder joint, which brings together the shoulder blade and the humerus, or the large bone of the upper arm. Watch this VIDEO about why shoulder pain can’t wait for treatment.
Scapula or Shoulder Blade Pain
- Strain from lifting a heavy item
- Injury from fall or accident
- Working at a computer for long periods
- Poor posture
- Sleeping in an odd position
In summary, the bones in the chest help make up and define the upper body. Any injury to any of these structures can be very painful as well as vital to protecting organs. If you feel that you have any injury to these bones in the chest, please consult your doctor or your orthopaedic doctor in regard to proper care and treatment.
JOI Physicians are currently offering ASAP fracture and injury care. This is a new option for patients who would like to avoid the emergency room if they have suffered a fracture or soft tissue injury. To learn more about this service, read this article about fracture and injury care.
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