Costochondritis (inflammation of chest wall)

Chest | - Others | Costochondritis (inflammation of chest wall) (Disease)


Costochondritis is an inflammation and swelling of the cartilage of the chest wall, usually involving the cartilage that surrounds the breastbone (sternum) but sometimes including the adjacent tip of a rib. This condition causes local pain and tenderness of the chest around the sternum.

This pain can be excruciating, especially after rigorous exercise. While it can be extremely painful, it is considered to be a benign condition that generally resolves. Though costochondritis appears to resolve itself, it can be a recurring condition that can appear to have little or no signs of onset.

Costochondritis symptoms can be similar to the chest pain associated with a heart attack. Unexplained chest pain is considered a medical emergency until cardiac issues can be ruled out.

Severe costochondritis is referred to as Tietzes syndrome. The two conditions were initially described separately, the sole difference being that in Tietzes Syndrome there is swelling of the costal cartilages. It is now recognized that the presence or absence of swelling is only an indicator of the severity of the condition

Causes and Risk factors

Costochondritis can be quite bothersome. However, unless infection is present, it is not dangerous. It can mimic other, more serious conditions, such as a heart attack. So, for people with chest wall pain, its important to be evaluated for other causes of chest pain.

Costochondritis has no clear cause, but it may be a result of: injury, arthritis, joint infection, physical strain, tumours etc.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Treatment options are quite limited and usually only involve rest and analgesics but in a very small number of cases cortisone injections and even surgery are sometimes necessary. It is recommended that costochondritis patients should refrain from physical activity to prevent the onset of an attack.

In most cases, costochondritis goes away on its own after a week or two. However, it can last many weeks or months. Standard treatment includes: rest, with a gradual increase in activity; avoiding activities that triggered the condition or those that increase the pain; acetaminophen; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or naproxen; heat. ...