Costochondritis is a condition that is caused by inflammation of the joints where the ribs meet the sternum in the chest called the costosternal joints. It presents as chest pain typically on one side, but can be both sides.
Costochondritis symptoms can include:
- Pain along the sternum and chest, one sided or both
- Tenderness to palpation of the costosternal joints and chest wall*
- Pain increased with deep breathing
- Swelling of the joints
As with any chest pain, you have to be concerned about serious conditions such as heart issues and lung diseases. If you have some of the following symptoms your doctor will likely recommend further testing to help rule out more serious conditions.
Signs of other causes of chest pain:
- Chest pain worse with physical exertion
- Pain radiating down arm
- Shortness of breath
- Crushing pain in the chest
- Recent lung/respiratory infections
- A significant amount of stress or change
- History of heart of lung problems
- Family history of heart/lung conditions
- Pain worsening after eating
- Dizziness, Lightheadedness
Tenderness to the chest wall only occurs in 6% of patients with cardiopulmonary conditions so is a good way to differentiate between that and costochondritis. But it is not 100%, so if you’re over 35 years old and have any other symptoms that could put you at a higher risk, your doctor may want to get additional testing done.
Costochondritis is typically a self-limiting condition, which means it will get better on its own. Chiropractic care works well to treat costochondritis that is persistent. Adjustments to the costosternal joints work well to return normal movement, help decrease inflammation and pain. Stretching of the muscles that attach to the chest wall and working out tightness can help decrease pain.