Your sternum is a bone that is located in the middle of your chest. It is also often referred to as the breastbone. Your sternum protects the organs of your torso from injury and also serves as a connection point for other bones and muscles. Your sternum is a flat bone that is located in the middle of your torso. If you place your fingers at the centre of your chest, you can feel it.
The sternum has three parts, including the following below:
- Manubrium – The manubrium is the top part of your sternum. Your collarbone and your first set of ribs connect here. The bottom of the manubrium shares a border with the body of the sternum. Your second set of ribs connects at this point.
- Body – The body is the middle part of the sternum and is also the longest part. Your third through the seventh set of ribs are connected to the body of the sternum through cartilage.
- Xiphoid process – This is the lowest part of the sternum. Its shape can vary. The xiphoid process is composed mostly of cartilage, and it slowly begins to calcify as you age.
In addition, your sternum also serves two important functions within your body, which are:
- Protection – Your sternum, along with your ribs, works to protect the organs of your torso, such as your heart, lungs, and chest blood vessels.
- Added support – Your sternum also provides a connection point for other parts of your skeletal system, including your collarbone and most of your ribs. Some muscles of your chest and upper abdomen also connect to the sternum.
A bruised sternum is usually the result of a traumatic blow to the chest or breastbone area. For instance, hitting your chest on the steering wheel or slamming against a seat belt can both bruise your sternum.