Chest Wall Disease

What is Chest Wall Disease?

Chest Wall Disease

Chest Wall Disease occurs when there are problems with the chest wall function.   A normally functioning chest wall includes the ribs, spine and sternum (the skeleton), the organs in your body that help you breathe (the respiratory muscles), and nerves that connect the central nervous system to the respiratory muscles.  Together these act as a vital force determining healthy lung function.

Chest wall abnormalities such as bone and muscle diseases can have a significant impact on lung function.  In particular, chest wall pathology may significantly contribute to restrictive physiology of the respiratory system.

Problems with the chest wall are very common, particularly in the elderly and include curvature of the spine, breathing muscle weakness and lack of fitness or deconditioning.  The breathing muscles need the ribs and spine to be strong and correctly aligned to maximize lung expansion.  Poor posture, osteoporosis, previous injuries or arthritis all impair chest expansion and reduce lung capacity.  These issues can be identified on X-rays and can be measured using lung function testing.

Pulmonary rehabilitation and exercises can help increase chest expansion and lung capacity.