Costochondritis

Alternative Names:Chest wall pain,costosternal syndrome and costosternal chondrodynia.

Definition:
Costochondritis is a benign inflammation of the costal cartilage, which is a length of cartilage which connects each rib, except the eleventh and twelfth, to the sternum. It causes sharp pain in the costosternal joint — where your ribs and breastbone are joined by rubbery cartilage. Pain caused by costochondritis may mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.

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This pain can be quite excruciating, especially after rigorous exercise. When the pain of costochondritis is accompanied by swelling, it’s referred to as Tietze syndrome.

 

Most cases of costochondritis have no apparent cause. In these cases, treatment focuses on easing your pain while you wait for costochondritis to improve on its own. While it can be extremely painful, it is considered to be a benign condition that generally resolves in 6–8 weeks.

Costochondritis occurs most often in women and in people older than 40. However, costochondritis can affect anyone, including infants and children.

Symptoms:
Costochondritis symptoms can be similar to the chest pain associated with a heart attack.It is the most common cause of chest pain originating in the chest wall.

Costochondritis usually develops gradually with increasing tenderness over the breastplate and pain if you put pressure on the ribs in this area. The pain is made worse by anything that moves the ribs and pulls on the cartilage connecting them to the sternum.

Symptoms include:

*Pain and tenderness in the locations where your ribs attach to your breastbone (costosternal joints)
*Often sharp pain, though also dull and gnawing pain
*Location often on left side of breastbone, but possible on either side of chest

Other costochondritis symptoms may include:
*Pain when taking deep breaths
*Pain when coughing
*Difficulty breathing

Causes:
Costochondritis often results from a physical strain or minor injury, but the true causes are not well understood. . It was at one time thought to be associated with, or caused by, a viral infection acquired during surgery, but this is now known not to be the case. Most sufferers have not had recent surgery. Only some cases of costochondritis have a clear cause. Those causes include:

*Injury.•Mechanical pressure or stress on the sternum or A blow to the chest could cause costochondritis.

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*Physical strain. Heavy lifting and strenuous exercise have been linked to costochondritis.

*Upper respiratory illness. An infection that produces sneezing or a cough may produce costochondritis.

*Infection. Infection can develop in the costosternal joint, causing pain.

*Fibromyalgia. Recurring costochondritis could be a symptom of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia often have several tender spots. The upper part of the breastbone is a common tender spot.

*Pain from other areas of your body. Pain signals can sometimes be misinterpreted by your brain, causing pain in places far away from where the problem occurs. Your doctor might refer to this as “referred pain.” Pain in your chest can sometimes be caused by problems with the bones in your spine compressing the nerves.

Diagnosis:
Doctor can diagnose costochondritis by pressing on the area where the ribs meet the chest bone (sternum). If this area is tender and sore, costochondritis is the most likely cause of your chest pain. He or she will ask you to describe your pain and what influences it. The pain of costochondritis can be very similar to the pain associated with heart disease, lung disease, gastrointestinal problems and osteoarthritis. Your doctor will feel along your breastbone for areas of tenderness or swelling.

Costochondritis generally can’t be seen on chest X-rays or other imaging tests used to see inside your body. Sometimes your doctor may orders these tests or others to rule out other conditions.

Treatment:
Treatment mostly consists of finding pain relief that works for you while waiting for the body to heal.

Start with simple analgesics such as paracetamol, which must be taken at regular intervals and not just when the pain is bothering you. Pain killers which also reduce inflammation such as ibuprofen (these are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs) may be particularly helpful. Local heat (such as from a warm pack) can also be soothing.

Vigorous exercise might not be a good idea. When you exercise, you need to increase your breathing depth and rate, increasing the movement of your ribs. This is more likely to aggravate any inflammation. Gentle exercise, however, is fine and some research suggests that gentle stretching of the pectoral muscles 2-3 times a day may help.

Although most people find that the pain soon settles, a significant number still have some discomfort and tenderness several months later. In persistent cases local injections of anaesthetic and steroids to the rib area may be recommended.

Prognosis :With treatment, the condition usually goes away in a few days.

Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.

Resources:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/physical_health/conditions/costochondritis.shtml
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/costochondritis/DS00626
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costochondritis
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000164.htm

http://www.graphicshunt.com/health/images/costochondritis-1030.htm

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