Pain in the Right Breastbone

Pain in the right breast bone, also referred to as the sternum, may cause you to worry, especially if symptoms develop suddenly. Fortunately, not all pain in the right side of the sternum is caused by a severe health condition, although if you develop chest pain, make sure to get a medical evaluation. Most cases of pain in the right sternum are preventable through lifestyle changes and treatable with medication.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.


Pain in the right side of the sternum can develop suddenly and without warning, explains This pain might feel like a dull ache or be sharp and stabbing. The pain might worsen with activity or after eating a large meal. Additional symptoms can include a sour taste in the mouth, trouble swallowing and chest tenderness.


Dull aches in the right sternum that worsen with coughing or deep breathing could result from costochondritis, an inflammation of the sternum, explains the American Academy of Family Physicians. Pain in the right sternum and upper right abdomen that is accompanied by a feeling of fullness could result from gallbladder disease. A burning sensation that worsens after eating or drinking could be due to acid reflux. Cardiovascular problems, such as angina, cardiomyopathy and heart attack, can also cause pain in the right side of the sternum.


Do not ignore chest pain near the breast bone, especially if accompanied by additional symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, sweating, dizziness and weakness. These symptoms could indicate a life-threatening emergency such as a heart attack. Contact emergency medical services immediately or dial 911.


Treatments for pain in the right side of the sternum depend on the cause of the pain. Cardiovascular diseases patients are sometimes prescribed medications such as blood thinners, anticoagulants, aspirin, beta-blockers or nitroglycerin; pain caused by heart attack might require emergency surgical treatments such as heart bypass or angioplasty; and patients with costochondritis may need anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.


Avoid drinking alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, and eating large meals or foods that are greasy, fatty or spicy, suggests the American Academy of Family Physicians. Doctors often recommend taking a daily aspirin to prevent right sternum pain from cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks. In addition, not smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels, exercising daily, eating a diet low in saturated fat and reducing stress can also help prevent pain in the right sternum due to heart disease.