Pectus Excavatum Pain in Chest, Back, Ribs & How To Manage

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pectus excavatum pain

How to Cope with Pectus Excavatum Pain

Not all people suffering from the pectus excavatum condition feel pain. However, in severe cases of deformity, agony is prevalent. A significant role in the pain is poor posture, weak musculature, and tightness in the upper body area, especially the back and chest muscles.

These issues will worsen your pectus excavatum suffering if not treated right. Back in 2014, I was one of those unlucky sufferers who experienced pectus excavatum pain.

My upper body musculature was weak, and I had a lot of muscular tightness. Also, my posture was terrible. After searching and studying all the pectoralis excavatum related information available at the time, I decided to improve my posture and strengthen my body.

After improving myself in these two areas, my sunken chest pain was no longer that severe. My indented chest improved after a few months of performing concave chest exercises, power yoga, wearing the top pectus braces, and doing vacuum bell therapy, daily.

The pain motivated me. I felt pain in my chest and back area. I had a lot of sleepless nights because of the sharp agony. I was more motivated by the pain than the pleasure of having a muscular and appealing upper body.

how to cope with sunken chest pain

6 Symptoms of Pectus Excavatum Ache

You will generally feel the pain caused by pectus excavatum in six different areas. Those are the chest, back, ribs, stomach, shoulder, and spine areas. Most doctors aren’t aware that the funnel chest deformity is a reason for pain in areas other than the chest and back.

I suffered from spine and stomach ache. I thought it was caused by my pectus excavatum because there wasn’t any other logical reason for the source of the pain, so I went to the specialist.

He wasn’t sure where the pain came from. He told me that I had food poisoning, even though my diet was very rigorous and clean. The stomach pain was weird. It was something that I haven’t experienced before.

However, at the time, my posture was in the worst condition in my life because of playing video games for more than ten hours a day. Playing World of Warcraft took a toll on my health.

My pectus excavatum got worse because of the bad posture and scoliosis. After going home, I read about the most common pectus excavatum pain symptoms.

I noticed that I experienced every single pain associated with the deformity. That is when everything clicked and made sense to me.

Pectus excavatum caused pain throughout my entire body. Please learn from the mistakes I made in my teenage years. Use my story, so you don’t allow the deformity to damage your body and feelings.

pectus excavatum pain symptoms

What Causes Pectus Excavatum Pain?

If the pectus excavatum deformity is severe, the sternum will press against the lungs and heart. This is what causes ache and discomfort throughout the whole body.

The deformity causes discomfort in the chest area, which will lead to sharp pain if left untreated. The pain will make you anxious and depressive.

You will have trouble concentrating on things at school or work. The worst part about the pectus excavatum agony is that it occurs when you least expect it.

If you just think about how the breastbone pushes against your heart and lungs inside your chest, you will feel weird and horrible. Your mind-to-body connection will make the agony much worse.

If you’re feeling some of the pectus excavatum pain symptoms, please do something about your deformity.

Pectus Excavatum Chest Agony Reasons

There isn’t any scientific evidence on what causes pectus excavatum chest pain. It is known that the pain is much worse in males, compared to females. However, surgeons believe that the sternum compression on the lungs and heart is the exact cause.

Another theory is how the pectoralis muscles cross the chest and attach to the rib cage and sternum. When the pectus excavatum chest pain occurs, it doesn’t last a very long time. It occurs unexpectedly, for plenty of times throughout the day.

It can be very irritating, especially if it happens while you’re trying to fall asleep. If the pectus excavatum dent is deep, the breastbone will press against the heart and lungs more, causing a sharper ache.

This is frequent in sufferers with Haller Index higher than 3.5. If the Haller Index of your pectus excavatum is lower than 3.5, then the chances of you experiencing chest pain are smaller.

pectus excavatum chest pain

Brace Helped Me Deal with Pain

For some strange reason, every time I wore a pectus excavatum brace, I didn’t feel any chest ache. This isn’t tested scientifically, but I think the reasoning is the external pressure put on the abnormal chest bone.

It provides support to the anterior chest wall area, keeping it snug and warm. The best brace for treating chest pain is the Neo G Dorsolumbar Support brace.

It is made of elastic and comfortable straps that mold perfectly around the body. You’ll get used to wearing that brace after just a week. You’ll feel confident to wear the brace all day because the pectus excavatum chest pain won’t occur throughout the day.

Pectus Excavatum Agony in the Back Area

pectus excavatum back pain

Just like pain in the chest, the origins of back pain caused by pectus excavatum remain unknown. The back agony caused by pectoralis excavatum is musculoskeletal. It is closely related to scoliosis and bad posture.

Scoliosis is a spinal condition in which the spine bends to the side. It pulls the rib cage out of the natural position and puts pressure on the muscles and bones in the back.

The pain you receive from scoliosis is mostly caused by the pressure on the spinal discs. This condition appears in most patients who suffer from hereditary pectus excavatum.

Usually, the pectus excavatum backache results in pain in the lower back, upper back, causes overall stiffness, and postural weakness.

How to Deal with Indented Chest Upper Back Pain

pectoralis excavatum upper back ache

The pectus excavatum upper back pain is usually caused by bad posture, muscle overtraining, or injury. Agony in this area of the back is more common in comparison to the lower part.

The upper back ranges from the base of the neck to the lowest part of the ribcage. It is made of 12 bones, which are also known as the thoracic spine.

Slouching over in a chair in your office weakens the back muscles required for an upright posture. With time, this will worsen your pectus excavatum condition and posture, causing you more pain in the upper back.

An easy way to stop pectus excavatum upper backache is to sit correctly. Also, take frequent breaks from sitting and try to do the overhead arm reach stretch.

If you are experiencing severe upper back pain caused by pectus excavatum, I recommend you do power yoga or Pilates. Both are awesome for strengthening the core and postural muscles.

You’ll walk more upright, full of confidence, even after just a couple of workout sessions.

Pectus Excavatum Lower Back Pain Treatment

pectus excavatum lower back agony

Lower back pain is more likely to occur in sufferers aged 30 and above. The agony is related to the changes that happen to the body with aging. As you get older, the fluid between the spinal column is reduced.

Because of this, the spinal discs can experience aggravation far easily. Also, losing some muscle tone in the lower back area, because of aging makes this location prone to injury.

Strengthening the entire back musculature is very important in minimizing pectus excavatum pain. As you already know, inverted chest sufferers have limited workout capacities.

They can’t work out with the same intensity or frequency as ordinary people. However, if you want the pain to stay away from your back, you must do pull-ups and deadlifts.

These two exercises are fantastic when it comes to improving deformity non-surgically. Pectus excavatum is also closely related to scoliosis, kyphosis, and lordosis. These conditions cause an unusual twist in the spine.

Because of this, there is an excessive strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and spinal discs in the lower back area. That is why correcting your posture and performing back exercises are the best way to prevent pectus excavatum lower backache.

Pectus Excavatum Surgery Pain Management

pectus excavatum surgery pain

The pain caused by a Nuss or Ravitch procedure can be very severe. The anesthesiologist places a tiny catheter (epidural) in the patient’s back. It is meant to control the pain during and after the procedure.

In addition to the opiates, doctors can give Toradol to some patients who suffer from severe pain. However, this can be very harmful in some cases. Doctors need to be extremely careful with the agony management, during, and post-operation.

There is the situation of 15-year-old Lewis Blackman, who died because of a post-surgical pain medication known as Toradol. It created a punctured ulcer in his stomach, which made him bleed to death.

Funnel Chest Pain After Surgery

You can feel the pectus excavatum ache after surgery while walking, taking deep abdominal breaths, and when coughing. You’ll feel a sharp chest pain that needs to go away after a week. Doctors need to be very careful with postoperative pain management.

They need to give you balanced doses of the medications. I think it is much better not to complain about pectus excavatum pain after surgery too often. As soon as you complain, doctors will probably give you a dose of medication.

Too much medicine will harm your health. Lewis Blackman’s situation shouldn’t happen ever again. Patients who underwent a long Nuss or Ravitch procedure will probably have a drainage tube in their chests as soon as they wake up.

It needs to drain excess fluid or air for a couple of days. The tube will be detached throughout the hospital stay.

Is Pectus Excavatum and Stomach Ache Related?

pectus excavatum linked with stomach ache

Two factors cause you pectus excavatum stomach pain. You’ll probably experience pectus excavatum front pain while bending forward or backward. This includes activities like sports, reading, and writing on a desk, and picking an object off the ground.

The pectus excavatum deformity changes the effect of front bending. The breastbone will move backward instead of forward. That causes excessive pressure on the protruding ribs.

The backward moving pattern of the sternum, combined with the frontal flare of the abdomen, creates a crease line in the upper abdominals. It will serve as a hinge when the sufferer bends forward, putting additional pressure on the lower ribcage.

This is when the sufferer experiences pectus excavatum abdominal pain. Also, ache management medications are proven to cause stomach pain. This usually happens when the doctors give the patient a higher dosage than required.

They need to be very careful, giving you the required doses. If Toradol is given in excessive doses, it can rupture the ulcer in your stomach, causing excessive bleeding, and even death.

Dealing with Concave Chest and Shoulder Pain

pectoralis excavatum shoulder pain

Pectus excavatum is also closely related to shoulder pain. Most sufferers experience a two-sided shoulder ache (usually more severe in the right shoulder than the left one). In serious cases, sufferers may experience troubled sleep cycle because of the sharp shoulder agony.

If you’re suffering from pectus excavatum shoulder pain, you need to increase the upper body’s strength and mobility. That will minimize the ache and prevent the shoulders from getting tired quickly. Every patient suffering from sunken chest shoulder pain is given a set of physical therapy exercises.

They include breathing exercises, aerobic exercises training, musculoskeletal stretches, and strengthening exercises. The breathing and aerobic exercises should be done 3-5 times a week. Aim for 10 minutes of breathing exercises and 10 minutes of aerobic exercises.

Your goal should be 20 minutes for each workout session. The best way to strengthen and mobilize the shoulder joints is to do yoga. My favorite shoulder rehab and strengthening exercise is the Downward Facing Dog pose in yoga.

Your shoulders will get much more flexible after each yoga session. The pectus excavatum shoulder ache will quickly disappear, and your overall body appearance will get better.

Aim to do at least 30 minutes of full-body power yoga at least three times a week. In addition to yoga, you should also do the Superman Exercise.

It’ll strengthen your posterior chain muscles, your posture will improve, and the back and shoulder pain will decrease.

Sunken Chest and Rib Ache

pectus excavatum rib cage ache

Pectus excavatum is linked with rib pain. Most people who suffer from the indented chest deformity have protruding ribs. Even though it is a prevalent deformity, it isn’t healthy and needs to be treated.

It is a clear sign that your core musculature is weak. If you haven’t experienced pectus excavatum rib cage ache yet, you’re a part of the few.

However, if you don’t correct it as soon as possible, you’re on your path to agony and dysfunction. When the oblique muscles in your core are strong, they keep the ribcage in normal position.

The pectus excavatum deformity weakens these muscles. That causes the bottom of the ribs to flare up and out. This extension of the ribcage causes a lot of postural, breathing, and stabilization problems.

Also, it causes rib pain. When you have flared ribs, breathing with the diaphragm muscles becomes more difficult. The body is fighting to find a solution to get more air into the lungs.

That is when we extend our lower backs to open our abdominals and use our neck musculature. This combination causes poor posture and pain in the ribcage area.

To repair this, you need to strengthen the core as a whole and correct bad posture. Focus mostly on the internal obliques and transverse abdominal muscles.

Does Age Matter in Experiencing Pectus Excavatum Pain?

Most young patients under 12 years don’t experience pectus excavatum pain and shortness of breath. The reasoning is that children’s chest cartilages is still soft, flexible, and growing.

It is critically important for parents to check the posture of their kid frequently. Usually, kids who suffer from pectus excavatum and bad posture, experience chest and back pain first.

Their ache is related to their caved-in chest conditions, but they aren’t aware of that. It is your role as a parent to let the kid know that poor posture causes the growth of pain.

With the rise of video games in the United States, most youngsters develop a slouched over posture. That’s a significant problem if you’re suffering from pectus excavatum.

The lousy posture will increase the dent in their chests. Treating the deformity non-surgically will get much harder because of that. If you notice your kid slouching its shoulders over, you should immediately purchase a posture brace.

Also, make sure to schedule an appointment with the pediatric specialist at the clinic. That will stop your kid’s posture from getting worse.


The occurrence of pectus excavatum pain is widespread. It happens in around 60% of all sufferers. You can mostly feel the sharp agony in the chest and back part.

If you want to get rid of pectus excavatum agony, the best way is to follow a non-surgical correction physical therapy routine. Choosing to fix the deformity with a surgery correction will only make the pain more severe.

However, if you decide to undergo a surgery, please be careful with the agony management medications. An excessive amount of medicines will hurt your health.

Please read the situation of 15-year-old Lewis Blackman, who died following a Nuss procedure. He was experiencing severe pain and was given high dosages of a painkiller known as Toradol.

It caused a rupture in his abdomen, leading to bleeding to death. I advise you to start yoga and Pilates as soon as possible, whether you’re feeling a pectus excavatum chest, back, stomach, shoulder, or rib ache.

All you need is an affordable mat. Nowadays, numerous scientific publications confirm that pectus excavatum can be treated effectively without surgery.

Article by:

Mihail Veleski

My name is Mihail Veleski. I used to suffer from the pectus excavatum deformity during my teenage years.

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