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Costochondritis: A Common Cause Of Chest Pain

Costochondritis: A Common Cause Of Chest Pain
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Costochondritis, sometimes called Tietze Syndrome, refers to a painful inflammation of the costochondrial junction, the connective tissue holding the upper ribs to the sternum or breastbone. It is most often found in children and young adults and is typically regarded as harmless.

What Causes Costochondritis?

The cause of costochondritis is not known. It may be exacerbated by viral infections, bacterial infections or trauma to the chest.

Types Of Costochondritis

There is only one type of costochondritis.

Costochondritis Symptoms

  • Dull or sharp chest pain
  • Chest pain that radiates to the arms, shoulders, or back
  • Pain with a deep breath or cough
  • Tenderness when applying pressure to the rib joints
  • Swelling at the rib cartilage junctions (Tietze Syndrome)

chest pain

Diagnosing Costochondritis

Your primary care physician can diagnose costochondritis through a physical examination and assessment of symptoms. They will palpate the chest to see if it causes any tenderness or pain when pressure is applied. It is important to note that since costochondritis mimics the symptoms of heart attack or cardiovascular disease, many doctors will want to perform a thorough cardiac workup. This will include an EKG or echocardiogram to rule out more serious cardiac conditions.

Treating Costochondritis

Most cases of costochondritis resolve on their own over the course of days or weeks. Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the inflammation and pain in the meantime. Physical therapy and stretching exercises may also reduce the pain associated with costochondritis. If the pain does not resolve on its own, nerve stimulation therapy may be necessary to provide longer-lasting pain relief. Nerve stimulation therapy blocks the pain signals that are sent from the nerves to the brain.

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