Sternal pain that arises while running has a variety of possibilities including conditions linked to the heart. The sternum or breastbone is a lengthy, flattened bone in the middle of the chest. It is connected to the rib bones by cartilage and has the main function of protecting the heart, lungs and main blood vessels.
Possible causes of sternal pain while running
The sternal pain brought about the digestive issues is prevalent among athletes. It is important to note that running is responsible for causing most GI symptoms.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and other digestive ailments are responsible for up to 30% of non-cardiac chest pain among high performance athletes. Esophagitis, gas, heartburn and acid reflux can trigger bloating and result to pain around the breastbone. The usual indications include sternal pain, diarrhea, nausea and cramping.
Costochondritis is due to the inflammation of the sternal cartilage. Even though the condition is relatively harmless, the symptoms which includes sharp chest pain, discomfort while heavy breathing, tenderness or difficulty breathing that strikingly resemble a heart attack and other heart ailments.
How is sternal pain managed?
In most cases of non-cardiac chest pain linked to a musculoskeletal issue, they are managed with the application of ice, rest and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Muscle relaxants and tricyclic antidepressants are usually given to effectively treat costochondritis. Even though there is a reduce in the intensity of running, the individual can continue to run if the pain can be tolerated.
As for those with cardiac causes of sternal pain, it is vital to seek medical care as soon as possible. It might be difficult to differentiate between chest pain, heartburn and an actual heart attack. Indications of a severe heart condition include the following:
- Abrupt pressure or tightening sensation in the middle of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes
- Discomfort that spreads to the back, jaw, neck, arms or shoulders
- Chest discomfort accompanied by shortness of breath
- Pressure in the chest during physical activity