Costochondritis is pain in the front of the chest wall. In particular, it is irritation of the cartilage where the breast bone and ribs meet.
Sometimes there is also chest swelling and inflammation. This is a condition referred to as Tietze’s syndrome. Neither costochondritis nor Tietze’s syndrome is a serious disease. However, their symptoms are similar to those of several dangerous conditions, like a heart attack.
The cause of costochondritis is often not known. At other times, the condition can occur due to injury or overuse.
Factors that may increase your chances of costochondritis:
Costochondritis may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may do further tests if the diagnosis is not clear to may sure it is not a serious condition such as a heart attack. Tests to examine the ribs more closely may include a chest x-ray.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Most costochondritis will eventually go away on its own. Treatment is optional, but choices include the following:
Compresses may help provide relief until the condition resolves itself. Try hot and cold compresses to see which is more helpful.
Family Doctor—The American Academy of Family Physicians
Kids Health—Nemours Foundation
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Costochondritis. EBSCO Dynamed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114285/Costochondritis. Updated November 28, 2016. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Costochondritis. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/costochondritis.html. Updated January 2015. Accessed December 18, 2017.
Proulx AM, Zryd TW. Costochondritis: Diagnosis and treatment. Am Fam Physician. 2009;80(6):617-620.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.