ZocdocAnswersWhy does my chest crack/pop when I sneeze or stretch?

Question

Why does my chest crack/pop when I sneeze or stretch?

I'm not sure what the cause of chest cracking/popping is. I would like to know more information about that.

Answer

There are several things that can cause cracking and popping in any joint, and it is likely that one of these common answers is applicable to you. However, it is important to speak with your doctor regarding this issue. First, it is important to realize that the ribs are long bones with joints, even though we often don't think about the movement of the ribs and their connections as having anything to do with the joints that we are used to (such as knees and elbows). As with all joints, the function of the ribs (to protect vital organs and provide stability to the muscles of the torso) is enhanced by the stability of the joints in the rib cage. Even though they don't move very much, there is the potential for movement at each of these joints. If the bones shift against each other at the joints, this can occasionally cause clicking and popping suck as you seem to be describing. Obviously, stretching and sneezing are two activities that would increase the volume of your rib cage, and would thus make this movement more likely. When the joints of the ribs become inflamed or painful, this can be due to a condition known as costochondritis. Again, please speak with your doctor about your question.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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