Mended Hearts Open Forum

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Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

  • 1.  Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-11-2019 01:54
    At about 6 weeks post op, I started getting clicking and popping in my Sternum..
    The popping is strong enough to wake me from sleep, and is quite frightening
    in the middle of the night..
    I am now 2 months post op, still clicking and popping
    but I notice that since Surgeon said I could increase my activity at 6 weeks
    with arm exercises and more lifting is when this started

    I reported it to my Surgeon and he ordered a CT Scan which I had yesterday
    and no results have been forwarded to me yet

    I was just wondering if any other members have experienced this, and what
    they did to soothe their minds while waiting for results from either x rays
    or other scans...

    Thank you
    Mary H

    mary hedtke

  • 2.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-11-2019 14:07
    Hello Mary,
    You may have done too much arm exercise too soon. The sternum can take a full year to heal properly after surgery. This type of problem is not threatening but is unnerving. Some folks also get pain related to this but since you did not mention pain then you are ok there. 
    Are you in cardiac rehab for your exercise or are you doing it on your own? In rehab, the nurses start you out with mild arm exercises, to begin with, and then you work your way up to heavier ones.
    I am almost positive your sternum has a slight separation that has not yet healed enough to allow for heavy exercise yet. 
    Be patient and allow yourself time to heal. In the meantime concentrate on your leg exercises to build your strength back up.
    Take care,

    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 3.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-11-2019 17:42
    Thank you so much Richard....

    Yes, I was very very active before my surgery, in fact my surgeon banished me to "indoor work only" for 2 months prior to the surgery because I love being outdoors and busy

    Patience is not my forte but it really really helped to read your reply...
    I am smiling and will not freak out the next time this is happening.
    I mistakenly assumed that total healing would be done by
    Christmas 2019....and after reading your reply when I was
    outside today, I went back to early recovery days and only
    lifted 10 pounds at a time...

    Again, Thank you so much


  • 4.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-12-2019 13:19
    You are very welcome. The Sternum is not bone, but cartilage and the blood flow that helps bone heal is not there. You are going to be fine, but be patient. ☺
    Take care

    Richard Short
    Chapter 395

  • 5.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-11-2019 19:56
    Hi Mary,
    I am now 5 months post op and remember well the popping and clicking. It would even happen when I did something as simple as sweeping lightly. I was told to continue to limit my upper body movements and def. no heavy lifting. I was only able to lift a gallon of milk, with both hands, at that time. It did eventually go away. I've learned this whole healing process takes time, 2 months is still very early. My Dr still has me living with certain restrictions while the sternum continues to heal.  You'll find this is an awesome group to be a part of. It has definitely helped me to realize I'm not alone during this time.
    Best of luck to you as you continue to heal : )

    michelle leverett
    Ridgecrest CA

  • 6.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-11-2019 20:12
    Thank you so much 

    I have always been a no limit person and find that my attitude of " do it or stay home" is not going to make healing easier.  All this self caretaking is foreign to me
    but if I dont slow down I may get careless and do something stupid.  

    I dont even remember how I found this Community but when I did I said " I bet these people have tons of experience to share". And I was right

    Again Thank you so much

    sent from my iPadAir

  • 7.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-13-2019 23:11
    You are very welcome. Yes, this group is full of wonderful people with lots of experience. They sure helped me get through a rough spot during my third month.  Hope all goes well with your scan and your healing : )

    michelle leverett
    Ridgecrest CA

  • 8.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 12-29-2019 22:54
    Mary   when  Open heart is  done  they incise   the  Sternum (breast plate)  thats  attached  to each rib  with   cartilage the  Back sides of the ribs  are  connected to the  spine  with  cartilage as well  when they  spread   the ribs  apart for  access  the  esentially   use the  spine   cartilage as  hinges  (all in all  this makes   the  first couple months  post   surgery  as painful as it can be  But as  mentioned    Cartilage    takes  Much longer to  heal  the  actual bone  and   to "hold the sternum  together as it heal   they  use a  stainless  Twisty  tie and  One  can even see  these on  xrays  post surgery consider  each   joint   between  each rib  front and back  and   olks  who are  active    doing  various   exercises    and  even   putting on or  removing a  (T shirt  (over the head)  and   you can  begin to see   how  easily   your  situation "can "   come into play..  its  possible    that  you Might have  even  popped  a twisty tie  and  that  Joint     loosened    might be  moving  rubbing  creating  friction until  "POP"     I've   added a  couple  of  graphics  below  showing  an  actual   sternal   wire    in the hand, an  xray  showing  how   they show up  after   use and  Other   options for   closing  up  that have been  developed,   since  Occasionally   these   twisty ties can   Break and  even   begin  poking    out   painfully ....  None  of these   are   Discusting or  anything  ( the  xray is interesting ) and the   picture  says   the  persons  ribs  were   broken  doing life saving CPR  which is  actually   common to have   happen

    Jim Sanquedolce

  • 9.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-12-2019 20:18

    You indicated that shortly after your surgery you started hearing popping cracking sounds in your chest I agree with the advice that you probably started the wrong type of exercise too soon.

    My surgeon advised that exercises stressing the cartilage that bound my ribs together, before the cartilage healed, could cause a permanent problem. How long healing would take varies from person-to-person but, I believe, always takes at least a month and probably two since bones take at least six weeks.

    I analogize our bodies to machines. In machines, whenever two non-flexible objects, like ribs, are connected in a joint that moves, like our ribs do when we take deep breaths, there has to be a flexible connector, like cartilage, to prohibit problems from friction between the non-flexible objects, like our ribs. Similar to a bone, if the cartilage's form is altered before it achieves its strength, it will remain altered.

    I hope using non-medical terms is helpful.

    Brent Zepke

    Brent Zepke
    Santa Barbara CA
    (805) 698-4651

  • 10.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-12-2019 20:45
    Thank you so much Brent

    I just received my CT scan results tonight, and am
    not Medically Savvy, but looked up a few words in the 
    summery they noted..From what I could understand there is 
    no infection and I have an appointment with my surgeon on
    Tuesday and He will be better able to tell me exactly what 
    the CT Impression means


    Multiple sternal wires are present. Sternotomy defect lucency
    is present without evidence of significant osseous bridging. No definite
    destructive changes to suggest acute osteomyelitis.

    Again, Thank you so much Brent


  • 11.  RE: Clicking And Popping In The Sternum Chest Area

    Posted 10-14-2019 19:47
    Saw my surgeon today because he had to cancel tomorrows appointment

    CT scan shows that my sternum is fractured at the top end
    He said it happened during the time I was in the hospital or
    nursing home, and when he increased my weight limit in the
    last 2 weeks, that is when the symptoms showed up

    I had told the nurses in the nursing home that I felt something POP
    as I was there, and they told me it was probably just normal
    healing...He said my appetite was so poor after surgery,
    and I was not eating and that is when the body needs nourishment
    and protein

    I am not freaking out anymore now...We found the problem and
    Doctor says we will keep an eye on it.  He told me how to check
    everyday for infection, and to increase my proteins and calcium
    including those Power Drinks, sugar free, with the 40 grams of

    I told him I knew something was wrong, and he said that if more
    people listened to their bodies, he would be performing less
    surgeries, but people like me who have never had any symptoms
    usually do not know that is normal or abnormal

    Thank you all very much, I really appreciate your concern and messages


    mary hedtke