Costochondritis

General Illness Information


Common Name:

Costochondritis

Medical Term: Tietze’s ┬áSyndrome

Description:

Chest pain due to painful inflammation (swelling) of the cartilage of the ribs (attaching ribs to sternum). It may mimic cardiac pain.

Commonly affects the 3rd or 4th ribs.

Age of onset before 40.

Both sexes are affected equally.

 

Causes: Cause of the inflammation is often unknown. May be associated with trauma and overuse.

Prevention: Avoidance of activities that may strain or cause trauma to the rib cage.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain in the chest wall, usually sharp in nature, especially on pressure;
  • Pain may occur in more than one location and may radiate into the arm. Second to fifth costal cartilage most often invlved;
  • Pain worsens with movement;
  • Tightness in chest;
  • Affected area is sensitive to the touch;
  • Redness and warmth at the site of tenderness often noted.

 

Risk Factors

  • Trauma, such as a blow to the chest;
  • Unusual physical activity;
  • Upper respiratory infection.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis is usually made on physical examination – patient is noted to have tenderness and sometimes swelling in the area where the ribs are attached to the sternum.

General Measures:

  • Rest;
  • Ice packs applied to the affected area;
  • Avoidance of sudden movements that will intensify the pain.

Medications:

  • Mild pain medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen may help relieve discomfort;
  • Stronger pain medicines and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories may be prescribed;
  • Steroid injections may be prescribed for some patients.

Activity:

As tolerated.

Diet:

No special diet.

Possible Complications:

None likely.

Prognosis

The disorder is benign and the course is usually of a short duration. Complete healing usually occurs. May recur and in some cases becomes chronic.

Other

Nothing Specified.