Disclaimer: If you’re experiencing chest pain, please see your doctor or go to the ER.

mayo costochondritisYou’ve been told by your doctor, that it’s not a heart attack, so why are you in so much pain? Chest x-ray shows your lung didn’t collapse. So what else can make your chest feel like someone whacked it with a baseball bat?

Costochondritis is most often seen with fibromyalgia and in viral infections. It is  not always just a result of excessive coughing. The condition is also vastly more common in women.

What Does Costochondritis Feel Like?

Touching the chest or applying pressure with tight clothing can aggravate the syndrome.  Chest pain, usually occurring on the sides of the sternum, can cause resulting discomfort around the ribs and as a result of moving the arms. Costochondritis typically affects the third, fourth, and fifth costosternal joints. It can feel like tightness around the chest, a throbbing pain, or can produce swelling that makes patients feel intense discomfort.

What Causes Costochondritis?

Costochondritis has befuddled many a patient with painful, unexplained chest discomfort. Now don’t blame yourself, this condition most often has no identified cause.  That being said, you can still contract it from having some sort of physical trauma from heavy lifting or as a result of excessive coughing. Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scoliosis and ankylosing spondylitis have been seen with this condition.

Gout can present in the joints associated with costocondritis. Gout is a metabolic disorder caused by the mishandling of uric acid.

How Do You Treat Costochondritis?

While an acute episode may warrant simple use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, more severe cases may require corticosteroids. Topical creams like Tigerbalm and Biofreeze may also aid in reducing joint pain.

Patients with long term, recurring costochondritis may benefit from the use of tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline.

Rest is recommend, but patients may also seek relief in alternative therapy such as seeing a chiropractor or having massage, heat therapy and physical therapy treatments using TENS Units.

What Else Could it Be?

The pain costochondritis causes is similar to that of multiple ailments including (but not limited to):

Heart Attack, pericarditis, aortic aneurysm, GERD, gastritis, esophagitis, fibromyalgia, rib fractures, bone metastasis, reactive arthritis, anxiety attacks, pneumonia, pneumothorax, pleuritis, pulmonary embolism, drug abuse and multiple myeloma.


Disclaimer: If you’re experiencing chest pain, please see your doctor or go to the ER.


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