What Causes Pain in the Xiphoid Process?

Xiphoid process points to the tiny bone structure in the chest center and below the sternum. At birth, it starts as cartilage and changes into bone later as a person reaches adulthood.

man holding mid chest area due to pain

Xiphoid process points to the tiny bone structure in the chest center and below the sternum. During infancy, the xiphoid process starts as cartilage and changes into bone later as a person reaches adulthood. This lower breastbone part serves no function and measures a few inches.

An overview of the Xiphoid process

The xiphoid process serves as an extension of the sternum or breastbone. It’s also called as metasternum and xiphisternum.

What is its function?

  • The xiphoid process serves as a vital attachment for some major chest muscles.
  • Serves as a base for the diaphragm muscle that is a vital part of the respiratory process.
  • Anchors some important muscles such as the rectus abdominus muscle or the bodybuilder’s six-pack muscle

Common Illnesses Of Xiphoid Process

Xiphoidalgia refers to a syndrome or illness characterized by tenderness and pain of the sternum. It causes symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pain, and chest pain that goes back to the shoulders and back. 

What Are The Causes Of Pain In The Xiphoid Process?

The xiphoid process pain characterizes a feeling of tightness and pressure. It forms as mild, moderate, and severe pain. The xiphoid process pain includes these causes: 

Diagnosis And Treatment

Doctors may examine your digestive system via endoscopy and may recommend an MRI, X-ray, and CT scan.

The treatment depends upon the severity of symptoms and the underlying causes. Below are some of them:

Medications and food

Symptoms arising from recent trauma may need an anti-inflammatory prescription to ease the pain. Your doctor may suggest cold and hot therapy during the day and limit activities until it heals.

You may take medications to control acid reflux such as prescriptions and over the counter drugs to decrease stomach acid and avoid esophagus irritation.

You may change eating habits such as eating small meals and avoiding foods that trigger pain. Such foods include chocolate, tomatoes, alcohol, and peppermint. Your doctor may suggest steroids and anesthesia ease the pain.


Massage can be used to target areas in the rib cage, and sternum to remove the pain. A professional physiotherapist may give you some massage that specifically targets pain.


Surgery is the last resort once a xiphoid process is broken beyond repair, the xiphoid process can puncture internal organs such as lungs and soft tissues that surround the abdomen and chest. The surgeon will make an incision to get the xiphoid process and use electrocoagulation to prevent bleeding. After surgery, recovery needs almost a month before you can resume normal activity. 

Foods to prevent GERD

Because GERD can contribute to xiphoid pain, eating foods that hasten pain can be beneficial. Although these foods are not entirely proven to prevent GERD, the following foods can ease symptoms. 

  • Oatmeal
  • Vegetables
  • Ginger
  • Egg whites
  • Seafood and lean meats
  • Non-acidic fruits such as pears, melons, and bananas.
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, flaxseed, sunflower oil, sesame oil, and walnuts.

Foods to avoid 

  • Foods are high in fat such as french fries, greasy foods, ham fat, salad dressings, cream sauces, and gravies.
  • Garlic and onion
  • Mint and products that use mint flavors.

What Are The Temporary Reliefs?

If your xiphoid is fractured or damaged, you must crush ice and place them in a plastic bag. Apply the ice bag xiphoid for 20 minutes every 2 hours for two days. During the third day, apply a cold compress three times a day and 10 to 20 minutes.

For GERD, you may use baking soda to reduce GERD symptoms. Baking soda neutralizes stomach acid excess and relieves acid indigestion and heartburn. To try one, mix a ½ tsp baking ng soda in a glass of water. Take the baking soda water before eating. Continue this process for two weeks.

Relieve the pain with ginger by taking ginger tea or supplements. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the xiphoid. It can also reduce chest discomfort caused by being overweight.

Use hot compress by filling up a water bottle. Place it in your chest for 15-20 minutes to increase blood circulation, decrease pain, and encourage healing. Use it 2-3 times until your xiphoid pain goes away.

Should You Take Xiphoid Pain Seriously?

If that’s a recurring pain or a sharp pain, you need to treat it seriously. It may have an underlying illness that requires immediate medical attention. Severe pains in the xiphoid could be the first sign of a possible heart attack. Follow a healthy lifestyle that reduces the likelihood of xiphoid pain such as wearing chest protection during contact sports or riding a motorcycle. Eat healthy foods to prevent GERD buildup.

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