Can Pectus Excavatum Cause Shortness of Breath?

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can pectus excavatum cause shortness of breath

Pectus Excavatum and Shortness of Breath

Pectus excavatum related symptoms like shortness of breath and exercise intolerance have referred to the deformity from the start. Johann Bauhin recorded the first patient with pectus excavatum in the late 1500s in Spain.

He said that the patient had exercise intolerance and shortness of breath. Five hundred years later, in the 20th century, there was a well-known German surgeon by the name of Ferdinand Sauerbruch.

He did a detailed analysis of his first patient that was suffering from pectus excavatum. Ferdinand famously said that the patient couldn’t even work, because of his exercise-related shortness of breath.

He had several health complications that caused him problems in his later life. In the 1950’s Mark Ravitch, the pioneer of the treatment of chest wall deformities like Pectus excavatum and carinatum described his patients who had concave chests.

He said that the patients could play basketball but couldn’t play the entire game. They would sit on the bench most of the time. Also, they could play a couple of tennis games, but not the complete sets.

Mark Ravitch’ explanation was a clear indication of shortness of breath in patients who suffered from pectus excavatum. However, this wasn’t scientifically proven. Scientists tried to configure whether breathing troubles and exercise intolerance was a common symptom in patients suffering from pectus excavatum.

pectus excavatum trouble breathing

What Studies Revealed About Shortness of Breath

Recently, scientists wanted to figure out whether shortness of breath is a common symptom for all pectoralis excavatum sufferers. The study included 11 North American health centres.

The doctors asked every single male and female adult pectus excavatum patient, whether they had the symptom or not. Unexpectedly, about 65% of all patients complained of shortness of breath, caused by physical or mental effort.

A similar percentage of the patients suffered from workout intolerance. The scientific study concluded that both patients and their parents reported complaints of shortness of breath.

Video Games Are Distraction for Pectus Excavatum Sufferers


The rise of video games in the United States of America has led to a big group of children not to perform any physical therapy exercises. They didn’t report shortness of breath and exercise intolerance as a symptom of the deformity.

They only consider the pectus excavatum deformity as an appearance issue. This is not true. The deformity can harm the health of the individual.

Science has proven that pectus excavatum is not only a cosmetic issue but an underlying health risk. Believing that pectus excavatum is a cosmetic problem, further worsens the health of every single patient suffering from the deformity.

They won’t do anything to treat the deformity. Their posture will get worse, and the dent in their chests will get deeper, causing more breathing problems. It is the clinician job to make younger patients perform a set of physical therapy exercises right in front of him/her.

The young sufferers will immediately see that they have shortness of breath while exercising.


symptoms of pectoralis excavatum shortness of breath

While being put under rough exertion, pectus excavatum sufferers go in an extremely rapid breathing state, known as hyperventilation. Shortness of breathing is also referred to as dyspnea.

Doctors need to further categorize dyspnea as either occurring at rest or being connected with activity or exercise. They also need to find out whether dyspnea happens gradually or suddenly.

Other factors of shortness of breath include:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pneumothorax
  • Anemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Inhalation injury
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • High altitude with lower oxygen levels
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Allergic reaction
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Subglottic stenosis
  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Obesity
  • Tuberculosis
  • Emphysema
  • Pulmonary artery hypertension
  • Rib fracture
  • Aerobic physical exercise

Discovering more about every single of the symptoms mentioned above will help to detect what causes shortness of breath. However, if you have a visible dent in your chest, there is a high chance that shortness of breath is being caused by pectus excavatum.

To keep your health in the top state, make sure you visit the doctor or specialist. Funnel chest discomfort, pain with inspiration (pleurisy), dizziness, fainting, cough, wheezing, bloody sputum, neck discomfort, and chest injury can also relate to shortness of breath.

What to Do if You Feel Pectus Excavatum Breathing Troubles

If you feel shortness of breath while being put under physical exertion, it is probably caused by the overall poor posture and tightness in the chest and abdominal musculature.

That’s the area that prevents a natural breathing pattern. Almost every patient that suffers from pectus excavatum has poor posture and muscle tightness. You can minimize the occurrence of shortness of breath caused by pectus excavatum, without a surgery.

Undergoing Nuss procedure or Ravitch procedure isn’t the only solution to this problem. Even though it helps, you still don’t need two titanium bars underneath your sternum for three long years, to treat shortness of breath.

I recommend you follow the non-surgical correction of pectus excavatum. Back in the days, I experienced shortness of breath while I was playing basketball and soccer. I wasn’t aware that it was caused by my pectus excavatum deformity.

I thought that I had an endurance problem. I started going for long-distance runs, started cycling, and implemented high-intensity cardio workouts in my exercise routine. Although my endurance problem improved slightly, I still had a shortness of breath.

After reading a couple of articles related to that, I concluded that the dent in my chest was the reason. I followed the non-surgical therapy I mentioned above, and my breathing difficulties while playing sports were greatly minimized.

I received most of the results after I started implementing the vacuum bell therapy in my daily life.

Do This to Lessen Shortness of Breath Instantly

In addition to the vacuum bell treatment, if you want a quick therapy to minimize shortness of breath while exercising, do pectus excavatum deep breathing.

This will improve your lung capacity and stretch out the muscles that restrict your natural inhaling patterns. It is a 10-minute routine to prepare you for your daily activities.

I recommend you do it two times in a day. You can do it once a day, but if you want to get rid of pectus excavatum shortness of breath fast, I advise you to do it twice a day.

There are three parts to the Bioenergetic routine.

Bioenergetic Routine

  1. The first part of the bioenergetic routine is critical if you’re having breathing function problems. It includes three energizing exercises called the bow, ground reach, and shake & vibration. The purpose of these exercises is to pump your body with oxygen and then release all muscular tension in the neck, chest, shoulders, legs, feet, and pelvic floor. Tightness in these areas of the body is restricting your breathing.
  2. The second phase is a set of five orienting exercises. Their primary purpose is to prepare your body for daily physical activity. You’ll feel how much your workout intolerance decreases after you do these exercises.
  3. The last phase is the Warrior Pound. The purpose is to pump your body with energy and focus on your daily activities.

Below, I’ll post an instructional video on how to perform these exercises.

Breathing in Babies

pectus excavatum shortness of breath in babies

There isn’t any scientific data about pectus excavatum breathing in babies. Pediatric specialists say that newborns and infants don’t have breathing troubles caused by pectus excavatum. That’s because they aren’t doing any strenuous physical activity.

Their breathing is normal, and there isn’t anything to worry about. However, as soon as they start walking or running, there is a high chance that they may experience breathing issues.

After birth, the surgeons can’t identify whether the baby has pectus excavatum or not. In some cases, there is a slight dent in the chest that disappears in puberty.

However, if the deformity is congenital, there is a high chance that pectus excavatum can be diagnosed shortly after birth. If the doctors see a potential lung or heart danger because of the deformity, the baby will be the right candidate for a pectus excavatum operation in adolescence.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Advantages for Pectus Excavatum

Diaphragmic breathing for pectus excavatum has a lot of benefits. The diaphragm is the centre of focus in meditation and yoga. It helps to manage irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.

Almost every single patient with pectus excavatum suffers from anxiety and depression regularly. Reducing stress levels without taking any medication is the main benefit of “breathing into your belly”.

That is why professional athletes suffering from pectus excavatum are taught how to breathe in their diaphragm before their performances. Being stressed out daily takes a toll on your health.

Your body won’t be able to reach its full health potential. First, your immune system will suffer, and you’ll be prone to many diseases. Diaphragmic breathing helps you toughen the diaphragm, which is a vital muscle when you breathe.

This type of breathing is also called deep breath or abdominal breath.

5 Benefits of Diaphragmic Breathing

deep rib breathing

Below, I list the top five benefits of diaphragmic breathing for indented chest deformity sufferers.


  • Allows the respirational system to work up to its potential
  • Decreases shortness of breath severity while doing strenuous physical activities
  • Turns on the parasympathetic nervous system, causing relaxing answer in your body
  • Strengthens and stretches the deep abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor
  • Dramatically improves your bad posture that worsens your pectus excavatum condition

These are just the five most essential benefits of diaphragmic breathing for pectus excavatum sufferers. There are a lot of other benefits that you can read about here.

For pectus excavatum sufferers, I advise you to do rib-stretching diaphragmic breathing. It will help you expand your chest wall and improve lung capacity.

Also, it’ll help you with correcting the abnormal protruding ribs deformity.

How To Do rib-stretching breathing

  1. Stand up tall and arch your lower back
  2. Breath out until you don’t have any oxygen inside your lungs
  3. Slowly inhale as much air as you can, until your lungs feel like they are going to explode
  4. Hold the breath inside your lungs, while your chest is expanded for 15 seconds
  5. Breathe out the air slowly, for around 5 seconds
  6. Repeat for 20 total breaths


Pectus excavatum is usually considered to be just a harmless and cosmetic issue, although severe or mild cases may notice difficulties in breathing. There are several scientific pieces of evidence proving that pectus excavatum causes shortness of breath.

Few publications in the previous decade, have explained how symptomatic pectus excavatum is considered as a likely cause of severe symptoms like shortness of breath, shivers, chronic fatigue, and chest pain in older people.

The symptoms, as mentioned above, can lead to a significant weakening of the physique. Click the following link to read the clinical presentation of symptomatic pectus excavatum. It is explained in detail in “Signs and symptoms of symptomatic pectus excavatum in seniors.”

Don’t allow pectus excavatum to prevent you from participating in sports and other physical activities. You don’t need a pectus excavatum surgery that costs more than $40.000 and takes forever to recover from.

After three years of having the titanium bar underneath the breastbone, you’ll need another pectus bar removal surgery. Everything you need to do is follow the 8-week pectus excavatum workout template I created, based on my experience, wear a posture brace like the Neo G or LaceIT brace, and use a vacuum bell.

If you ask yourself how to fix pectus excavatum, the non-surgical physical therapy is the best. If you invest in all of that, you’ll spend no more than $300. You’ll see a fantastic improvement in your physique in just a month.

Your sunken chest indentation will no longer be noticeable, and you’ll regain your lost confidence.

Article by:

Mihail Veleski

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

3 thoughts on “Can Pectus Excavatum Cause Shortness of Breath?”

  1. Fairly extremely great internet internet site. Incredibly very good in direction of look through and quite a lot focus-grabbing content material substance. Without a doubt interval contains not however occur back again and greet.

  2. I believe bad breathing with strained diaphragm is the actual cause of pectus excavatum. Notice that diaphragm center is directly below sternum.


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