Costochondritis: Symptom, Treatment, Home Remedy

Overview

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage which connects a rib to the breastbone. Pain experienced by the patient may be similar to that of heart attack or other heart conditions.

It is a relatively harmless condition and usually goes away on its own without treatment. Treatment mainly points at pain relief.


Symptoms

Chest pain is the most common symptom experienced by the patients, and it usually:

  • Worsens when taking a deep breath or coughing.
  • Will radiate to the back and occurs mostly on the left side of breastbone.
  • Affects more than one rib, especially the fourth, fifth and sixth ribs.
  • Is sharp, aching or pressure-like.


Causes

There exist no clear causes for costochondritis, but sometimes, costochondritis may be caused by:

  • Physical Stain: Examples of these physical strains include heavy lifting, strenuous exercises and severe coughing. They can be related to costochondritis.
  • Injury: Such as a blow to the chest.
  • Tumors: Tumors (both of the cancerous tumors and noncancerous tumors) can lead to costochondritis.
  • Joint Infection: Virus, bacteria and fungi such as tuberculosis, syphilis and aspergillosis can infect the rib joint.
  • Arthritis: Costochondritis might be associated with specific problems such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.


Diagnosis

There is no laboratory or imaging test to confirm a diagnosis of costochondritis. Instead, the doctor usually feel along your breastbone for areas of tenderness or swelling. The doctor may also move your rib cage or your arms in certain ways to try to trigger your symptoms.

Besides, your doctor might order certain tests — such as an electrocardiograph, X-ray, CT or MRI — to rule out other conditions that can cause similar pain.


Treatments

As mentioned above , costochondritis can disappear on its own, but it may last for several weeks or even longer, and the treatment focuses mainly on pain relief.

Common treatments methods include medications, stretching exercises, nerve stimulation and surgery.

  • Medications: Examples of medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, narcotics, antidepressants, and anti-seizure drugs. They are mainly used to alleviate your pain.
  • Stretching Exercises: Gentle stretching exercises for the chest muscles may be helpful.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS): A device send a weak electrical current via adhesive patches on the skin near the area of pain, thus interrupting or masking pain signals and preventing them from reaching the brain.
  • Surgery: Surgery is suggestible if conservative measures don’t work.


Home Remedies

Besides medical measures, self-care measures will also make you feel more comfortable, which include:

  • Heat or Ice: Try applying hot or icy compresses to the painful area several times a day.
  • Over-the-Counter Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Pain Relievers: Examples include ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and so on.
  • Rest: Take plenty of rest, and avoid activities that can worsen your pain.


Keywords: costochondritis.


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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.