DEFINITION--An inflammation of the cartilage of one or more ribs, most commonly
the second or third ribs. The pain that results is often intensified by movements that
change the position of the ribs, such as lying down, bending over, coughing or sneezing.
Pain may mimic that of coronary artery disease.
BODY PARTS INVOLVED--Cartilage of one or more ribs.
SEX OR AGE MOST AFFECTED--More common in young adults, but can occur in any age
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
- Pain in the chest wall, usually sharp in nature.
- Pain worsens with movement.
- Pain may occur in more than one location and may radiate into the arm.
- Tightness in the chest.
- Affected area is sensitive to the touch.
CAUSES--Inflammation of the cartilage that attaches ribs to the sternum. Cause
of the inflammation is often unknown.
RISK INCREASES WITH
- Trauma, such as a severe blow to the chest.
- Unusual physical activity.
- Upper respiratory infection.
HOW TO PREVENT--Avoidance of activities that may strain or cause trauma to the
What To Expect
- Your own observation of symptoms.
- Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
APPROPRIATE HEALTH CARE--Self-care after diagnosis.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS--None likely.
PROBABLE OUTCOME--Complete healing. The disorder is benign and the course is
usually of a short duration.
How To Treat
- Heating pad or ice massage applied to the affected area (whichever feels best).
- Avoidance of sudden movements that will intensify the pain.
- You may use mild pain medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen to help relieve
- Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medicines or steroid injections (rare).
ACTIVITY--As tolerated. Rest is important.
DIET--No special diet.
Call Your Doctor If
- You have symptoms of costochondritis.
- New or unexplained symptoms develop. Drugs used in treatment may cause side effects.