The terms keel breast or chicken breast refer to a clearly visible protrusion of the sternum. Only in rare cases does this lead to physical problems such as poor posture. Very often, however, a keel chest is a significant psychological burden for those affected, so that medical care is necessary in many cases.
What is a keel chest?
A keel chest is initially noticeable through the characteristic curvature of the sternum. The bone protrudes prominently while the upper part of the chest may be flattened. See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Keel Chest.
The keel breast, commonly referred to as chicken breast, is a deformity of the sternum, which is visibly curved forward. The rib attachments on the breastbone can also be arched forward.
The main problem with the presence of keel breast is not medical but psychological. Rarely does chicken breast cause physical discomfort, but it often leads to psychological problems such as a lack of self-confidence. The psychological stress is often considerable, especially during puberty, and often requires medical help.
Due to the keel breast, incorrect posture and incorrect movement sequences can occur, which must be looked after by physiotherapists. A keel-shaped protrusion of the breastbone is more common in boys and men than in women.
Only in exceptional cases is a child born with a quill chest. Typically, this only develops from or after the age of ten. The exact causes for the development of a keel breast are still unclear.
It is believed that those affected experience excessive bulging of the sternum because cartilage on the ribs grows too much and forces the sternum to bulge forward. What exactly is the cause of the excessive growth of the cartilage has yet to be clarified. However, a certain genetic predisposition might play a role.
Doctors have observed that deformities of the breast can occur more frequently within families. The likelihood of developing a wedge breast is therefore increased if there are already such cases in the family.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
A keel chest is initially noticeable through the characteristic curvature of the sternum. The bone protrudes prominently while the upper part of the chest may be flattened. This deformity causes accompanying symptoms such as shortness of breath and chest pain. Serious deformations that require independent treatment rarely occur.
Those affected also often complain of restricted lung function, which not only makes breathing difficult, but also reduces physical and mental performance due to the lack of oxygen. Affected people have to take regular breaks to breathe and are usually no longer able to do sports. Finally, a keel chest can lead to poor posture.
Many sufferers are ashamed of the deformity and try to conceal it by stretching their posture. This can lead to back pain, among other things. In children, a pronounced keel chest can hinder growth. A chronic lack of oxygen supply to the organs often results in further diseases and disorders. These represent a great burden for those affected and subsequently cause psychological problems. The keel breast usually does not develop until after the age of ten, usually beginning with puberty. A congenital malformation is relatively rare.
Diagnosis & History
The diagnosis of keel chest is made by examining the patient closely; this is called a visual diagnosis. The deviation from the norm can be recognized directly and without further examinations by the doctor. An x-ray is often used to make the diagnosis.
This allows the attending physician to take a closer look at the excessive curvature of the sternum and the cartilage growth defect on the ribs. X-rays confirm the visual diagnosis. Basically, a keel breast is not a disease, as it usually occurs without any physical symptoms. In some cases, there may be pain in the chest area. Sleeping on your stomach is also sometimes found uncomfortable.
Only in exceptional cases, where there is a severe deformation of the sternum, does the lung function become restricted. Affected people then quickly get out of breath and have to take more breaks than usual during physical activities.
In most cases, the keel breast does not impose any particular physical limitations or impair the health of the patient. However, the keel breast can have a very negative effect on the psyche of the person concerned and lead to complaints. As a rule, with this disease, the sternum is arched forward, which leads to a sharp decrease in the patient’s aesthetics.
It is not uncommon for the patient to have reduced self-esteem or even an inferiority complex. Depression or other mental stress can also occur as a result of this disease. Furthermore, the keel chest can lead to breathing difficulties, so that those affected suffer from an increased respiratory rate. The resilience of those affected also decreases and certain activities may no longer be able to be carried out.
Sports activities may also be restricted for the patient. A treatment of the keel breast is only carried out if there are actually complaints. Parts of the ribs and breastbone can be removed to reduce the discomfort. Psychological treatment is often necessary if, for example, teasing or bullying occurs. Usually there are no further complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
From a medical point of view, the keel chest is in most cases not a cause for concern. The physical functions of the individual systems of the organism are not impaired by the bulging of the chest. The deformity also does not result in a reduction in life expectancy or disturbances in cardiac activity. For a diagnosis and a thorough check-up, a doctor should be consulted at the first signs of chicken breast development.
Normally, no further visit to the doctor is then necessary because of the keel breast. The exception are patients who suffer from other malformations of the skeletal system in addition to the keel chest. A doctor should be consulted in the event of crooked posture, one-sided strain or complaints of the muscular system. Consult a doctor if you experience persistent or regularly recurring tension or a feeling of stiffness. A general malaise, behavioral problems or personality changes are indications that the person concerned needs help with.
If emotional and mental problems occur, a doctor’s visit is advisable. Sleep disorders, inner restlessness, interruptions in the ability to concentrate, mood swings or a depressive appearance are further complaints that should be discussed with a therapist. Support and help are needed in the event of reduced well-being, social withdrawal, partnership and attachment problems, feelings of anxiety or shame.
Treatment & Therapy
Since a keel breast usually does not cause any health problems, it does not necessarily have to be treated. If the patient does not feel restricted subjectively, then there is no reason for any therapies, since a wedge breast is harmless from a medical point of view.
If a patient suffers from the deformation of their chest and develops self-esteem problems, psychological or psychotherapeutic help should be offered. Psychotherapeutic care is particularly helpful for patients in whom the cuneiform chest is not very pronounced and therefore an operation is not recommended due to the risks. For children who are still growing, therapy with a pad, i.e. a bandage, can be very promising and can replace an operation. Such a procedure is tedious and often unpleasant and only promising if the person concerned is sufficiently motivated.
If the sternum is severely deformed, this can also lead to health problems such as shortness of breath. In addition, those affected very often suffer from their appearance. Children and young people with a keel chest in particular are often teased, which further affects their already weakened self-confidence. In such cases, surgery is recommended.
During the operation, parts of the breastbone and ribs are removed. After the procedure, further treatment is necessary to improve lung function.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis of a keel chest is favorable. Normally, despite the bulging of the chest, there are no health problems. It is therefore an optical defect that in most cases has no disease value. For this reason, the patient often does not receive any further treatment. The lifetime is not shortened and physical complications are unlikely due to the keel chest.
The prognosis worsens when emotional and mental problems occur due to the visual abnormalities. These can contribute to the development and formation of a mental disorder. When making the overall prognosis, well-being and mental stability must therefore be taken into account. If there is a mental illness, this can have a significant impact on the health of the person concerned. In addition to behavioral problems, personality changes and a worsened quality of life, anxiety disorders or attachment problems can occur.
In rare cases, the keel chest leads to shortness of breath or impaired breathing. If the patient decides to have an operation due to physical limitations or mental stress, a significant change and thus optimization of the appearance of the chest can take place. As a rule, no further complications arise during the operation. Nevertheless, every intervention and a change in the human physique is associated with risks and side effects.
There are no promising measures to prevent keel chest, as it is not yet clear what the actual cause of the excessive growth of costal cartilage is.
The extent to which follow-up care is necessary depends on the chosen therapeutic measure and the individual discomfort. In the best case, there is only an optical flaw that does not lead to any physical suffering. Then follow-up care may not be indicated. After receiving the diagnosis, the patient goes on with his life. The situation is different when mental suffering occurs as a result of the quill chest.
Then psychotherapy is necessary. In most cases, it leads to an increase in self-confidence and can sometimes happen several times. Surgery is only recommended in rare cases. This treatment leads to the expectation that after a while patients will be able to go on with their lives without any problems. The keel chest then disappeared. A recurrence is just as impossible as everyday complaints.
However, it may be months or years before that happens. Immediately after an operation, aftercare consists of breathing and physiotherapy. The body is stabilized using a pressure pad bandage. Improving mobility and strengthening the muscles also play an important role. Follow-up care is usually on an outpatient basis. To assess the success of the therapy, the attending physician arranges for X-rays to be taken. Scheduled follow-up visits usually take place at increasing intervals. They end as soon as the desired result has been achieved.
You can do that yourself
Depending on the severity, a keel chest can cause self-esteem problems and other mental suffering. Those affected can counteract this by dealing openly with the deformity and learning to stand by their bodies. Psychological or psychotherapeutic help supports this process and especially helps patients for whom an operation is not an option. Further measures are limited to concealing the keel chest. A little more clothing and a conscious adjustment of posture are usually sufficient for this.
If the keel chest has already caused a visible malposition, this requires [physiotherapy|physiotherapeutic treatment]]. Conscious walking and exercises from yoga or physiotherapy are ways to correct bad posture at home or on the go. However, it usually takes months or even years for the posture to return to normal. In addition, drug therapy is always necessary, since poor posture is usually associated with pain.
The keel chest itself can only be corrected in the long term by surgical intervention. Those affected who wish to have the condition treated surgically should seek a medical examination at an early stage and take the necessary steps.