Xiphoid Process Pain

Causes Of Swollen Xiphoid Process

Other names for the xiphoid process are processus xiphoideus, ensiform or xiphoid appendix. It rests at the 10th thoracic vertebra. It is the tiniest and lowest part of the sternum. Unlike the other two parts of the sternum specifically manubrium and body, there are costal cartilages and ribs that are attached to the xiphoid process.

What is the Function of Xiphoid Process?

  • Attached to the anterior surface area of the xiphoid process are the anterior costoxiphoid ligament and an area of the rectus abdominis muscle.
  • The posterior surface serves as an accessory to the posterior costoxiphoid ligament, transversus thoracis muscle, and diaphragm.
  • Xiphisternal joint links the sternal body to the xiphoid process’ superior border.
  • There are articular aspects on both sides of the superior border where the 7th ribs connect.
  • Abdominal aponeuroses are connected to the lateral borders of the xiphoid process.

The xiphoid process is comprised of cartilage till the person reaches the age of 40 in which it ossifies. In some cases, the xiphoid process merges with the sternal body when the person reaches the old age. The ossification of the xiphoid process emerges as a lump that is commonly believed by patients as a growth that may cause cancer. They need to be assured that it is a normal advancement of the xiphoid process.

The xiphoid process is extremely small anatomical structure. Despite of its size, it is essential since it acts as a landmark for:

  • Subcostal or infrasternal angle that is formed by the right and left subcostal margins and the xiphoid process
  • Lower margin of the heart
  • Superior end of the liver
  • Inferior limitation of the anterior thoracic cage
  • Central tendon of the diaphragm

What Is the Meaning of Xiphoid Process Pain

Any non-medical individual might not recognize with the xiphoid process. Making it basic, xiphoid process is completion part of breast bone, the breastbone. It is a tiny bone, triangular fit attached with the body of the breast bone. Sternum depends on the middle of chest. The ribs are attached to it to form the ribcage.

During youth, xiphoid process is a versatile cartilage tissue, however it forms into a bone as the child ends up being adult. Due to its versatility during childhood, it secures the growing organs underlying it, such as the part of heart, esophagus and so on.

Xiphoid process lies at the level of 9th thoracic vertebra.

Though uncommon, xiphoid process can get swollen due to direct injury to the chest. The condition is likewise referred to as xyphoidynia. The characteristic symptoms are pain and inflammation on touch or while lifting heavy things or bending.

Swollen xiphoid process might take some time to recover. It may be couple of weeks or months. Anti-inflammatory medications, heat, and modification in lifestyle and work may assist to improve the recovery process.

Causes of Xiphoid Process Pain


Likewise referred to as xiphoidynia or hypersensitive xiphoid syndrome, xiphoidalgia presents as a deep sharp pain that is felt on the xiphoid process that aggravates when pressed. Eating way too much and motion that involves using xiphoid process, such as flexing, stooping, and twisting, exacerbates the pain.

It resembles the chest pain in cardiac arrest. The xiphisternal joint might appear swollen and feel sore. The pain may radiate to the back of the sternum, precordium, epigastrium, shoulders, and back. The patient suffers the pain for minutes to hours and may continue weeks or months.

Patients with enlarged xiphoid process with xiphisternal angle of less than 160 degrees are most likely to establish xiphoidalgia. Though the pain might be too much, xiphoidalgia is self-limiting, indicating it goes away on its owneven without treatment.

CPR and Sternum Pain

The thoracic cage is designed to protect all of the surrounding structures from injury or injury. However like anything else, it has a snapping point. If the breast bone can not handle anymore pressure that concerns it, fracture and dislocation ends up being the problem.

A typical mistake in the performance of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the incorrect positioning of the rescuer’s hand on the patient’s chest. When it is too low, xiphoid process might be fractured and extend on the underlying organs. A sign when it becomes busted is when you pick up a “pop”.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD refers to the regurgitation of stomach acid from the stomach to the esophagus.

The esophagus is an alkaline environment, which is the total opposite of the acidic environment of the stomach. It is located behind the breast bone. The esophagus runs from the throat to the stomach. Anatomically speaking, the distance of the esophagus and xiphoid process, explains why you feel sternum pain in GERD. You can feel sharp pain under xiphoid process at the same time.

Furthermore, the trigger points for somatovisceral symptoms such as heartburn lies surrounding the xiphoid process that is why you feel xiphoid process pain in GERD.

Treatment for Xiphoid Process Pain

  • Analgesics and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are the first line of painkillers that may be offered to patients with xiphoid process pain.
  • If it can not be handled by the first line representatives, opioid analgesics might be required to reduce xiphoid process pain.
  • Injection of lidocaine or corticosteroids into the xiphisternal joint is eventually administered if none of the above works.
  • Heat application over the xiphoid process offers relief.
  • Gentle workout of chest wall muscles provides you a much better possibility of mobility in the long run.
  • Elastic rib belt provides pressure to the sternal area thus lessening the pain.

Last modified: September 20, 2017


The Author

Reyus Mammadli

As a healthy lifestyle advisor I try to guide individuals in becoming more aware of living well and healthy through a series of proactive and preventive measures, disease prevention steps, recovery after illness or medical procedures.

Education: Bachelor Degree of Medical Equipment and Electronics.

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