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Sternum Popping: Everything You Need to Know

Trained in dentistry, Sree is currently pursuing lab sciences. She loves researching and sharing information on various health topics.

Everything You Need to Know About Sternum Popping

Everything You Need to Know About Sternum Popping

On YouTube, you can find numerous videos of people proudly showing off the popping sound from their chest. This is commonly known as sternum popping. Some people can produce this cracking sound simply by leaning back and extending their chest forward. While it brings relief to some, others are afraid to try it, thinking that it may not be safe.

The popping, clicking, or cracking sound of your sternum (breastbone) is, in general, not indicative of something bad. If you ask your doctor about it, he or she will most likely tell you that it is normal, and that there is nothing to worry about. If you are one of those who experience this, or if you just want to know more about this phenomenon, then read on.

Some people may associate the cracking sound with something breaking. The popping sound is usually caused by the joints between the sternum and the ribs. The breastbone and the ribs are joined together by a strip of cartilage, known as cortal cartilage. This cartilage attaches the ribs to the sternum via the sternocostal joints.

However, before we delve too much further into this discussion, we should take a moment to look at the anatomy of the sternum. By doing so, you will have a better understanding of what goes on in your body as the sternum pops.

The Anatomy of the Sternum

The sternum, more popularly known as the breastbone, is a long flat bone at the center of your chest. The word sternum comes from the Greek word "sternon," which literally means chest. This bone is shaped like a short necktie that acts as the midpoint of all the bones in the chest. It is among the longest and largest flat bones in the human body. The ribs are connected to the sternum via the cartilages. This forms the front of the rib cage that acts as the protection to the heart, lungs, and other internal chest organs.

The sternum is separated into three regions.The manubrium, the body, and the xiphoid process are what make up the sternum. The joints are what connect the cartilages of the ribs to the sternum. The sternum is obliquely angled, going downward and forward. The sternum is slightly convex on top and concave behind. This gives form to your chest. An adult human sternum is about 17 cm on the average, with the male having a longer sternum than the female.


The manubrium is the upper part of the sternum. It somehow resembles a flat tooth. It is quadrangular in shape but narrow at the bottom. This narrowing gives the bone its four borders. The manubrium has a jugular notch, known as the suprasternal notch, located at the middle of the upper and broadest part of the manubrium. You can feel this notch between your two clavicles. The two sides of this notch are called clavicular notches. The cartilages of the first pair of ribs are attached to the manubrium. A thin layer of cartilage covers the inferior border of the manubrium for articulation with the body.

The first costal cartilage marks a depression above the manubrium where the cartilages of the first pair of ribs are attached. The second costal cartilage, which is similar to the upper costal cartilage, forms a depression for the cartilages of the second pair of ribs. The pericardium is attached to the subsequent side of manubrium via the superior sternopericardial ligament.


The body forms the longest flat bone of the sternum, and it has a front and back surface. The body is marked by three slanting ridges. These ridges are opposite the articular depression of the third, fourth, and fifth costal cartilages. The body is attached to the manubrium via the sterna angle. You will feel the sterna angle as you try to project your sternum farthest to the front. But for some people, the sterna angle takes a concave or a more rounded shape. The sternal angle is a useful point during physical examinations as the second rib is attached here.

The outer border of the body of the sternum has small facets that form a cavity for the second pair of ribs. The third, fourth, fifth, and sixth pairs of ribs are attached to the cartilages at the four angular depressions below the second rib pair. The lowest part of the body of the sternum has a small facet, along with the depression on the xiphoid process, which forms a depression for the cartilage of the seventh pair of ribs.

The upper part of the body of the sternum is attached to the manubrium and the lower part is attached to the xiphoid process.

Xiphoid Process

The xiphoid process is located at the lower part of the sternum. If a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is not performed properly, it may cause the xiphoid process to break. This breakage may cause the xiphoid process to drive off into the liver which can cause fatal hemorrhage.

Highly vascular tissues are what make up the sternum. It is covered by a thin layer of compact bone. The bone is thickest at the manubrium, especially at the articular facets of the clavicles. The pericardium is attached to the xiphoid process via the sternopericardial ligament.


The sternocostal joints connect the cartilages of the first seven pairs of ribs to the sternum. The clavicular notches at the left and right side are attached accordingly to the left and right clavicles. What makes it easy to locate the second rib's costal cartilage is the fact that it is attached at the sterna angle of the sternum.

The lower sternum's posterior surface is attached superiorly to the muscle of the transversus thoracis through the intercostal nerves. The surface inside the second through the sixth rib's costal cartilages is what pushes the ribs down.

What Causes the Popping Sound?

The first seven ribs are attached to the sternum at the sternocostal joints via the cortal cartilage. The cortal cartilage is attached to the ribs at the costochondral joints. The clavicle is attached to the sternum at the sternoclavicular joint.

Based on the discussion of the anatomy of the sternum above, the breastbone has quite jagged edges. The jagged edges are where the facets are for the cartilages and clavicle bones of the first seven ribs. It is in these facets where the popping sound takes place. The clicking or the popping sound happens along the joint between the sternum and the collarbone, known as the sternoclavicular joint.

The numerous joints between the sternum and the ribs, known as the sternocostal joints, may also produce the popping sound. However, it is more likely that the sternocostal joints will produce the sound as they are more used to movement than the sternoclavicular joint.

The popping sound is produced after gas bubbles form in your joints just like in a vacuum. The gas bubbles are released and absorbed after you crack your joints. You can produce this popping sound again after twenty minutes or so as gas bubbles form again between your joints. However, most chiropractors do not encourage popping your joints. Popping your joint once in a while may not cause you harm. But if you frequently pop your joints several times a day for a long period of time, it can create micro trauma on your joints.

This micro trauma can cause wear and tear and degeneration. So, purposely and repeatedly cracking your joints is not really a good idea. You should not take your joint beyond its normal range of motion. Some people who are genetically tight will not be able to produce pops and clicks. Those who are genetically loose can produce succession of clicks. It is just the joints creating a vacuum effect that causes the noise.

Parts of the Sternum and What Causes the Joints to Pop?

Parts of the Sternum and What Causes the Joints to Pop?

Why Do the Joints Pop?

Sternum popping spontaneously happens in most cases, as most joint popping do in general. However, some people can pop their sternum on purpose by leaning back and pushing their chest forward. After sitting for a long period of time, you can also try to pop your back by stretching it. Doing so may bring relief to your sore and tired muscles. Some people develop the habit of popping their knuckles. What they do is to try to bend their fingers and stretch the joints until they hear the popping sound.

There is really no solid explanation as to why the joints in our body pop. However, some physical therapists and chiropractors attribute joint popping to the following reasons.


As you move, gas bubbles are released from the fluid in your joints. These gas bubbles pop as you try to stretch your joints. Also, when you stretch your joint, a vacuum is created between your bones. And between your bones are the soft cartilages that when pulled, create a popping sound. Just like when you try to pull a suction cup from a glass, you will hear a popping sound as the gas is released from the suction. This is the same mechanism that happens in your joints as you pull it. The gas bubbles get absorbed and after a few minutes, you can pop it again.

However, the ability to pop your joints is not common to everybody. Some people have genetically tight joints that they are not able to pop their joints. On the other hand, some people are so genetically loose that they can just bend backward and stretch their chest and they can already hear their sternum popping. Again, this should not be a cause of alarm for you if you are one of those who can pop their chest.

If you go to a doctor to have your chest checked, your doctor will probably just send you home with a clean bill of health. As long as no pain and bruising is involved and you did not recently hurt your chest, there is really nothing to be worried about.

Tendons and Ligaments Moving Back Into Place

As you move, your joints move with you. Other structures within your joints move as well, such as your tendons and ligaments. The tendons are what bind your muscles to your bones. Tendons are also what connect your muscles to other parts of your body, such as your eyeball. It is a fibrous connective tissue that helps your bones and other parts of your body move.Ligaments are what bind your bones to another bone. It is a fibrous connective tissue between your bones that holds your bones together for stability.

While there is no solid evidence that the tendons and ligaments make the popping sound, some researchers believe that the popping sound comes from these tendons and ligaments as they snap back into place. So when you move and your tendons and ligaments move out of place, they produce a popping sound as they move back into their original place.

Rough and Uneven Surfaces

For individuals suffering from arthritis, the cracking or popping sound is produced by the rough and uneven surfaces of their bones. Normally, the bones are held together by cartilages that prevent the bones from scratching each other. However, in the case of osteoarthritis, the structures within the joint wear down which causes stiffness and pain. While osteoarthritis may affect any joint in your body, it commonly affects the knees, hands, hip, and spine.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease. A degenerative disease means that the condition may worsen over time. For osteoarthritis, the cartilage is what is damaged first. The cartilage is what protects the cone surface in your joints which makes your bones move smoothly without scratching each other. However, as the cartilage wears down, it leaves the bone surface bare and makes it very difficult and excruciatingly painful to move. Eventually, the damage in the cartilage can cause stress to the other structures of the joints such as the tendons and ligaments.

Osteoarthritis is more prevalent to adults of over 50 years old. It can affect individuals differently. And in this case, proper medical care and management is required to have a better quality of life.

Partial Dislocations

When your bones slip out of place, you may hear a pop as you move it. This is because the movement may cause your bones to scratch other surfaces near it. Typically, this causes pain and immobility. In some cases, the bone may slip back into place by itself, but a treatment may still be necessary to relieve the pain and to return the loss of function on the affected part.

Partial dislocations are usually caused by a fall or a blow in the affected area. It may be very painful to move the part affected by the fall or blow,and it may cause some swelling. This usually happens after you engage in high impact sports, like soccer or basketball.

Dislocations can also happen even without direct contact. Putting too much stress on one part of the body may cause dislocation without you knowing it. A common example will be that of a baseball player as he tries to swing a bat. As the player's right foot is rooted to the ground, his upper body rotates as he takes a swing. As this happens, he can dislocate his right kneecap as it lags behind during the swing.

Partial dislocations can also happen to people who have genetically loose ligaments. This makes their joints more flexible and they are more prone to dislocations.

In most cases, partial dislocations need immediate medical attention. There is no need to risk putting your bone back in place by yourself. Other structures in your joints may get affected when putting the dislocated bone back in place and you may not be able to do it properly. You will need to seek professional help to do the job.

Causes of Sternum Popping

Now that we have discussed some of the possible reasons why your joints pop, it is now time to discuss what causes the popping or the cracking sound from your sternum. This will help you understand and gauge whether or not proper medical attention is needed.

Trauma or Physical Injuries

Bruising of the sternum caused by light injuries is most common as you engage in some sports. Most of the bruising may heal quickly, but they may also produce the popping sound in your sternum. Also, other severe traumas can cause sternum popping. Slamming your chest hard on another surface, like during a high speed collision and you slam your chest to the steering wheel, is an example of severe trauma. You may need to have a chest x-ray to see if there are dislocations or breaking of the bone in your chest area. The popping sound may indicate these and you may need to seek medical attention to correct them.

Strenuous Activities

Putting too much strain on your chest can cause popping. During exercise, strain can be put on the chest as you lift weight, perform dips, and even something as simple as pushups. These activities put a lot of strain in your chest that as you do them, you may hear your sternum popping. The pressure from doing these exercises could cause a sprain in your tendons and ligaments along your sternum. The popping of the sternum could be a result of subluxation of your joint. You may need a chiropractor to realign the dislocated joint and relieve stress from your sternum.

Muscle Spasm

Muscle spasms can cause sternum popping, especially when the spasm is strong enough to cause partial dislocation to the ribs. To prevent a muscle spasm in the chest area, you will need to identify the activity that is causing the spasm. You will have to stop doing whatever is triggering the spasm so it will not get worse. To prevent the spasm from getting worse, you can try to massage it. Lightly stretching your chest can also help.

If you are experiencing soreness, you can use a heating pad to assist in loosening up your tight muscles. You will need to apply heat for 15 to 20 minutes and do it several times a day. You may need to use a cloth to protect your chest from being burned from the heating pad. Once you experience improvement and the pain has started to decrease, you can use an ice pack after performing the activity that has set off your spasms before. Apply the ice pack 10 to 15 minutes and do it several times a day. You may need to cover your skin with a cloth to prevent frostbite.

Muscle spasm can also be caused by dehydration and loss of minerals. As your body's calcium and potassium decrease, chest spasms may develop. Drinking water can ease your chest spasms. However, you may need to take in sports drinks or salt tablets to replace the minerals that have been lost, and to bring your body's electrolytes in balance.


Dislocation is when the ends of the bones slip out of position where they articulate at a joint. Dislocation may either be partial or complete. You will hear a popping sound as the bone slides back into its original position. Dislocation is usually caused by trauma, after a fall or a blow, or putting too much strain on a specific part of the body. High impact sports, accidents, and strenuous exercises may cause dislocation.

It may be hard to differentiate a broken bone from a dislocated joint. So it is important to assess the situation first before applying first aid treatment. Treating a broken bone as you would treat a dislocated joint may cause a lot of danger for the patient. You may need help from a doctor if you are unsure of the diagnosis.

Most dislocations can be cared for in an emergency room or a clinic. The doctor may need to put you to sleep and numb the affected area before treating it. Most dislocations do not pose permanent injury if they are treated early.


Costochondritis is the inflammation of the rib's costal cartilage. This condition usually affects the cartilage along the upper ribs attached to the sternum. This area is known as the costosternal joint.

Women and adults over 40 years of age are at higher risk of being diagnosed with costochondritis. There is also increased risk of costochondritis to people who engage in high impact activities, do manual labor, and people with allergies and are constantly exposed to whatever causes their allergies.

In most cases, costochondritis is relatively harmless and it usually goes away without treatment. However, the sternum may be tender to touch and you may experience pain. But if you are experiencing shooting pains and difficulty in breathing, you will need to go to the doctor right away.

Tietze Syndrome

Tietze syndrome, also known as chondropathia tuberosa or costochondral junction syndrome, is similar to costochondritis in that the cartilage of the ribs is inflamed. However, with Tietze syndrome, the cartilage is typically characterized by the swelling of the joints. It is a benign inflammation caused by repeated minor physical strain or trauma, like repeated vomiting and persistent coughing.

Tietze syndrome may go away without any medical treatment. You may experience pain that will subside after several weeks or months. However, the swelling may come back from time to time.

Tietze syndrome mostly affects young adults, usually before 40 years of age. It is also reported to affect some infants, children, and older people, although this rarely happens. The male and the female population are affected equally by this condition.


Arthritis is a disease characterized by joint degeneration. It also causes rough and uneven bone surfaces than can cause the cracking or the popping sound when the bones are rubbed against one another. Arthritis can be excruciatingly painful, especially at a stage of severe degeneration.

The most common types of arthritis that affect the chest area are rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is the condition in which the immune system inflames the joint structures. Osteoarthritis is the degeneration of the structures of the joints which sometimes affects the end of the bones in the process. The joints between the ribs and the sternum can be affected by osteoarthritis.

With arthritis, the popping of the sternum does not always come from the joint structures. Sometimes, the muscle along the chest walls is what causes the popping. The reason why you may feel a strain in your joints is because the spasm from the muscle of your chest walls limits the movement in the joints between your sternum and your ribs. In some cases, an injury in the chest wall may cause pain and reduced movement, but this should be isolated as a chest wall problem, especially if the joints between the sternum and the ribs are not involved.

Sternal Instability

Sternal instability, also known as sternal nonunion, is a medical term that refers to the condition when the sternum does not heal after a surgery or after a traumatic injury. This condition is rare but it is associated with the increased rate of morbidity. Patients seek medical attention after experiencing pain and sternum popping. Sternal instability can be confirmed using radiographic imaging, and it can be treated by reconstructive surgery.

Calcification of the Costal Cartilage

Calcification of the costal cartilage occurs not until the patient is 30 years of age. Calcium builds up in the costal cartilage which hardens and disrupts the cartilage's normal processes. However, it is important to note that calcification is not caused by a diet rich in calcium. Calcification can be caused by infection, autoimmune disorders, or injury. When treating costal cartilage calcification, your doctor will need to identify the underlying cause of the calcification and any complications that may arise.

Calcium deposits in the tendons and the joints do not always pose painful symptoms. But over time, they may cause discomfort and have an effect on your body's range of motion. A patient may be prescribed with anti-inflammatory medicines. Applying ice packs may also help relieve the discomfort. However, if the pain is persistent, your doctor may advise you to undergo surgery.

Causes of Sternum Popping

Causes of Sternum Popping

Stretching and Deep Breathing

As you stretch your arms wide or take a deep breath, you may hear your sternum popping. In this case, there is no need to be alarmed. The popping sound usually happens after you are at rest for a long period of time. Stretching allows you to remove the strain from your muscles and joints, thus the popping sound.

Natural Ways to Treat Underlying Symptoms of Popping Sternum

If you are relatively healthy and had not been in any injury or trauma that could possibly hurt your chest, there is really no need to treat sternum popping. You may experience sternum popping every once in a while and that is completely normal. Most of us experience that so there is really no need to go to a doctor for that. In some cases, the popping of your sternum will go away on its own without treatment or medication. But for a few of us, they may get stuck with it for years.

Here are some natural remedies that you can do to help you with the other symptoms associated with your popping sternum.

Menthol Rubs

The menthol in sports or chest rubs can help you relax your muscles. It can also speed up the healing process of strained muscles and help improve the flow of blood in the affected area.

Heat or Ice Packs

Applying heat or ice packs or the combination of both can help reduce the pain in your chest area. For soreness and stiffness of the muscles, you will need to apply heat in the affected area for at least 15 to 20 minutes. This will help loosen up tight muscles.

Once you feel some improvement and the affected area is less painful than before, you can start to apply ice packs to relieve the swelling, pain, and inflammation. You just need to remember to put a towel on your skin before applying heat or ice packs. You do not want to get burned from the heat or have frostbite from the ice pack.


A relaxing massage can do wonders for your sore and stiff muscles. If the person giving you a massage knows what he is doing, he can help loosen up your muscles. He can find the areas where it needs loosening and can help you get your joints and ligaments in place. If the pain in your sternum is not acute, a light massage will be most beneficial. This will help improve the blood flow and will aid in muscle relaxation.


Acupuncture is an alternative treatment from China wherein thin needles are used during the procedure. It is commonly used to relieve pain, but it can also be used for a number of other health conditions. The needles are inserted in specific points in the body to help improve the flow of energy to the body. It has been believed that disruptions to the natural flow of energy are what cause diseases. Through the use of acupuncture, the natural flow of energy can be restored, and imbalances can be corrected.

Acupuncture should be done by a trained practitioner using appropriate, sterilized needles. When done properly, acupuncture will produce a low rate of minor adverse effects, if any. There is really no scientific evidence or clinical studies that will prove that acupuncture can help relieve pain and other symptoms, but some people find relief after having acupuncture.

Cough Medicine

Cough medicine can be used if the chest pain is associated with a viral infection due to a persistent cough. If the underlying symptom is coughing, then you need to treat it first before determining that there are no other underlying symptoms related to your chest pain.


If you are experiencing mild discomfort on your chest area, you can take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) upon your doctor's prescription. NSAIDs can be used to treat several symptoms which include, but are not limited to, pain, stiffness, and inflammation. However, take NSAID only if you need to as this drug may increase the chances of heart attack and other heart problems. Use it following your doctor's prescription and only if you do not have a severe heart condition.

Here are just some of the natural remedies that you can do to ease the pain in your sternum. But, if your popping sternum is accompanied with pain, tenderness, swelling, or any feeling of discomfort, you may need to visit your doctor. Your doctor can assess and tell you if there is any underlying condition that causes the popping of your sternum along with your other symptoms. Most of the time, it is really nothing serious. However, for your peace of mind, you can have yourself checked out and be cleared of any other major health issues.

A Change in Lifestyle

When dealing with pain, the most practical way to get away with it is to avoid what causes your pain. If it can be avoided, then it should not be done. To help you minimize the popping of your sternum and the pain that may be associated with it, here are some simple things that you can change in your lifestyle that will help you improve your way of living.

Avoid Straining Your Muscles and Joints

You need to avoid carrying heavy loads until the popping and the pain in your sternum subsides. It is not wise to push yourself to the limit when there is pain associated with it. Strenuous exercises like bench presses, weight lifting, and pushups can cause a strain in your chest area. If the pain you are experiencing is caused by putting too much strain to a certain part of your body, or in this case your chest, you may want to steer away from anything that may worsen your condition.

Give your body some time to heal and repair itself before going back to your old routine. Applying a cold compress before doing these exercises may help improve your body's ability to cope. You can try to do this and take it slow. Let your body adjust to your activities.

Do Stretching Exercises

Before engaging in any form of exercise or sports, it is best to perform stretching exercises. This allows your muscles to loosen up before doing an intense activity. Jumping right into a rigorous routine without stretching may cause sprain and tightness in your muscles. You can prevent muscle spasm and ease any pain that may arise after you have overworked your chest and hands. Stretching exercises should be done before any physical activity to help your body warm up.

Make Hot and/or Cold Therapy as Necessary

To help loosen up your muscles, you can do a hot and/or cold therapy as necessary. But it may be confusing as to whether you should use hot or cold therapy or both alternately at any given situation. To help you remember, you can follow these basic rules.

You need to use cold therapy for a new inflamed or swollen injury. Cold therapy is also useful for severe pain. If the injury is a day old or more, you will need to apply a hot therapy. Heat can also be used for recurring pain. But at the end of the day, the deciding factor is really you and your pain. You should choose what works best for your pain. If a cold compress does not feel right, then you can shift to a hot compress.

It is also important to know what type of injury you have. Different injuries should be treated differently for them to properly heal. Hot and cold therapies should not be a substitute to any medical treatment or evaluation.

Sleeping on Your Back

Sleeping on your back is the best position to having a good night's sleep. As you sleep on your back, your body stays aligned and it remains in a neutral position. When accompanied with the right pillow, you will wake up without the feeling of discomfort on your neck and back. Sleeping on your back will also decrease your chances of having chest pains and will allow you to have the best possible breathing as you sleep.

You can also prevent acid reflux when you sleep on your back. As your head is elevated from the rest of your body, the force of gravity will prevent the acid in your stomach from going into your esophagus, which can burn your throat.

The worst sleeping position you can put your chest in is by sleeping on your stomach. Sleeping on your tummy will put too much pressure on your chest that may impede your breathing. Your sleep may be interrupted because of shortness of breath or chest pain. And as your neck is in a sideways position, you may feel stiffness in your neck when you wake up.

Avoid Tight Clothing

Wearing tight clothing can put your chest under pressure, especially when there is inflammation on the joints between your ribs and sternum. Constricting clothing includes underwire bras, corsets, and tight-fitting clothes. Wearing loose clothing will make it easier for you to move and help improve your breathing.

Design an Ergonomic Work Area

As you spend most of your time sitting behind your office desk, it is essential to ergonomically design your work station. Your work station should encourage good posture and allow you to move around with ease and efficiency. Designing your work area in an ergonomic fashion will help improve your overall well being and optimize your level of performance.

An ergonomic work station has been proven to increase an employee's state of accomplishment. He is able to end his day without or with minimal strain on the different parts of the body after a hard day's work.

As an example, you can try to raise to your computer's monitor to the level of your eyesight. By doing so, you will avoid straining your eyes and neck. You can also use a separate mouse and keyboard so your hands are not confined into a single position.

Organize Your Home

Make your home body-friendly. You can reduce straining your chest area by designing your home in a way that not too much reaching, lifting, and carrying will be involved. You can put heavy books and materials at bench height so you will not have to strain your arms and neck by reaching them from a high place.

If you need a heavy piece of equipment in a certain part of your house, keep it there instead of putting them away in another part of the house. For example, if you want to run on a treadmill in front of the TV, put your treadmill where the TV is. There is no need to put the equipment away and store it in another room, then take it out again the next day.

Manage Stress

Stress can cause a lot of strain in your body. When you are stressed, it can cause a lot of tension on the different parts of your body. Stress can affect your overall well-being.

If your life is too demanding, you can manage stress by taking some load off your shoulders. Learn to delegate. You do not need to do everything in the office. You should also talk to your spouse about dividing the house work so you can both have a more meaningful and stressful life. Share your responsibilities to those who can help you.

See to it that you have the chance to interact with other people on a daily basis. Having the ability to communicate with others outside your work will help decrease your stress levels and improve your emotional well-being.

Find a hobby. Try to find an outlet where you can channel your stress. Find something that you enjoy doing and have fun doing it. It may be as simple as book scrapping or reading books. Just go out there and have some fun.

It is also important that you recognize that you are being stressed out and the reason for your stress. In this way, you can learn to adapt and see your situation from a different angle. You do not need to drown in your stress and feel like there is nothing you can do. There is always something you can do.

You need to learn that there are four things you can do about your stressor. You can avoid it, change it, adapt to it, or learn to accept it. It is important to recognize what to do and when to do it. When there is nothing you can do about it, either you leave or accept it.

Parts of the Sternum



The upper part of the sternum


The longest flat bone in the sternum

Xiphoid Process

The lower part of the sternum


Connects the cartilages of the ribs to the sternum


Below is the summary of all the things that have been discussed throughout this article. You can refer to it after you have read and understood when you should be alarmed when your sternum pops.

What Causes the Joints to Pop?

  • Gas bubbles in the joints
  • Tendons and ligaments moving back into place
  • Rough and uneven bone surfaces
  • Partial dislocations

Causes of Sternum Popping

  • Trauma or physical injuries
  • Strenuous activities
  • Muscle spasm
  • Dislocation
  • Costochondritis
  • Tietze syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Sternal instability
  • Costal cartilage calcification
  • Stretching and deep breathing

Natural Remedies

  • Menthol rubs
  • Heat or ice packs
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Cough medicine
  • NSAIDs

Lifestyle Changes You Can Do

  • Avoid straining your muscles and joints
  • Do stretching exercises
  • Make hot and cold therapy when needed
  • Sleep on your back
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing
  • Work in an ergonomically-designed area
  • Organize your home
  • Manage Stress

In summary, sternum popping may mean a lot of things, most of which are not a cause for alarm. If you feel that you need medical attention, then go to your doctor for your peace of mind. If there is no immediate need for medical attention, then you can consider the popping of your sternum as a means to amuse yourself. You can even post a video of yourself on YouTube popping your sternum!


  1. "Sternum". Retrieved Jan. 26, 2017.
  2. "Snap, Crackle and Popping Sternum: Natural Home Remedies for Costochondritis Advertisement". Doctors Health Press. Retrieved Jan. 26, 2017.
  3. "Costochondritis". WebMD. Retrieved Jan. 26, 2017.
  4. "Painful Chest Wall Swellings". National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved Jan. 26, 2017.
  5. "Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Medicines (NSAIDs)". Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved Jan. 26, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on November 29, 2017:

Very informative and useful article. I found it accidentally and feel it is a worthy post that needs to be read by people.

I always sleep on my back and get a nice sleep. But, I never tried or heard that popping, cracking sound of my chest bone.

Nabhan on November 07, 2017:

You have a fantastic article. I wonder why I'm first to comment!