How Does Pectus Carinatum Affect The Body & What Triggers It & Is It A Disability?

Pectus carinatum is only a postural issue that results in an asymmetrical chest, but severe cases may affect breathing during physical activities, recurring respiratory infections, and asthma.1, 2

The exact trigger of this condition remains unknown, but the researchers believe a chromosomal syndrome initiated by the presence of all or part of an extra copy of genetic material.3

Pectus carinatum is a deformity of the chest that causes the breastbone to push outward however not considered a disability.4

Chest wall deformities are the aesthetic problem of the chest that can vary from mild to severe. These deformities are often considered birth defects, but the abnormality is noticed only during adolescence when there is a growth spurt.

How Does Pectus Carinatum Affect The Body?

Pectus carinatum is usually an aesthetic issue and does not usually affect the internal organs or cause any problems in the body functions. But they often lead to asymmetrical chests causing mild to moderate pain. In severe conditions, pectus carinatum may induce difficulty breathing during physical activities, chronic respiratory diseases, and asthma.

As this affects the shape of the chest, some children and adults are not happy with their posture and undergo psychological problems that often lead to depression. This will eventually affect their quality of life. Although the condition does not affect the body, yet your healthcare provider may recommend treatment to improve your self-esteem and quality of life.1, 2

What Triggers Pectus Carinatum?

A family history of this disorder or other congenital disorders increases the risk for pectus carinatum. There are also other tissue disorders such as Turner syndrome, Noonan syndrome, Loeys–Dietz syndrome, Marfan syndrome, Ehlers–Danlos syndrome also increases the risk of this condition.

The connective tissue disorders have one or more of the following symptoms.

  • Long limbs and fingers
  • Deformity of the chest
  • The spine looks curved.
  • Deformities in the facial postures
  • Cardiac complications involving chest congestion and changes in the heart valves.
  • Lens displacement

However, the exact cause of the condition is still under investigation. Many scientists believe that pectus carinatum occurs as a result of an issue with the cartilage that connects the ribs and the breastbone.3

Is Pectus Carinatum A Disability?

According to Social Security, a condition is defined as a disability when you cannot work that you were performing before due to your medical conditions. Also, your condition will limit you from adjusting to other work as well.

In some instances, your disability will last for a year or more or even result in death. However, the patients can enjoy no benefits for partial disability or short-term disability. The definitions of disability are very strict, and the social security program has a standard set of rules to determine if you qualify for disability. This is determined by the below.

  • Are you working and your earnings average more than $1,310 a month?
  • Is your condition “severe” that significantly limits your ability to do basic work-related activities?
  • Is it under the list of disabling conditions?
  • Does your impairment prevent you from doing any of your past work?
  • if there is other work you could do despite your medical conditions?

If you do not meet the legal definition of disability you may not qualify for the disability benefits. Furthermore, since pectus is only a postural deformity, it is not regarded as a disability.4


  1. “Pectus Carinatum (Pigeon Chest): Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International,
  2. Andre Hebra, MD. Pectus Excavatum Clinical Presentation: History, Physical, Causes, Medscape, 8 Nov. 2019,
  3. Kuru, Pinar, et al. “Pectus Excavatum and Pectus Carinatum: Associated Conditions, Family History, and Postoperative Patient Satisfaction.” The Korean Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, The Korean Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Feb. 2016,
  4. “Pectus Carinatum ( Pigeon Chest ).” Physiopedia, Disability visibility project

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