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Costochondritis- All You Need to Know

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Costochondritis- All You Need to Know

Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement | Posted on 11/30/2023 by Dr. Lalit Modi


Do you experience chest pain very often? If yes, it can be an indication that you might have costochondritis. It is among one of the common conditions involving cartilage inflammation. It is also referred to as the costosternal junction. The accurate prevalence is difficult to identify as most cases go unidentified and the symptoms are often misunderstood as chest problems. 

The condition affects people of all age groups, however, the most targeted population is younger than 40 years. Women experience this condition more than men and is primarily interlinked to repetitive strains, bacterial or fungal infections, inflammatory conditions, etc. If you are not certain and doubt that you might have costochondritis, book an appointment with the best orthopedist in Jaipur at CK Birla Hospital, one of the best multispecialties in the city. The expert and highly skilled healthcare professionals assist in proper diagnosis and the right treatment solutions.

In this blog, we will involve a comprehensive discussion on costochondritis, its symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment. However, kindly note that the information given is research-based and we do not intervene in the consultation of a doctor. 

What is costochondritis? 

Costochondritis is a cartilage inflammation connecting a rib to the breastbone. Pain experienced by this condition is similar to a heart attack and other heart issues. It often impacts the left-hand side upper ribs of the body. Pain is usually bad where the rib cartilage is linked to the breastbone, however, it can happen where the cartilage is connected to the rib. The condition is also referred to as chest pain or costosternal syndrome. The swelling caused by costochondritis is accompanied by the Tietze syndrome. 

In general, costochondritis is a harmless condition, and most people come across it with traditional methods, and the condition usually settles on its own. The period of symptoms depends from individual to individual.

What are costochondritis symptoms?

The symptoms of costochondritis might vary depending on the patient’s condition, however, some of the common symptoms are:

  • Occurs on the breastbone’s left side 
  • The pain is sharp, whooshing, and feels like pressure 
  • Impacts not only single rib but more ribs
  • The pain often can move from arms to shoulders 
  • Symptoms get worse during a deep breath, sneezing, coughing, or when any chest wall movement is made 

What are the causes of costochondritis?

As per the studies, the causes of costochondritis are not known yet, however, they have found certain conditions triggering the issue. Here are these conditions:

  • Coughing hard 
  • Respiratory tract infections
  • Excessive or aggressive exercise 
  • Doing something that’s not part of a routine, such as moving furniture
  • Wounding the chest 
  • Using harms too much
  • Bacterial infection 
  • Fungal infection 

Costochondritis indicates other conditions as well affecting the cartilage such as osteoarthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and rheumatoid arthritis

How is costochondritis diagnosed?

Costochondritis diagnosis begins with an elimination method and the doctor initially talks about mental health as problems like panic attacks, anxiety, and stress lead to chest pain. The doctor initiates the diagnosis of costochondritis depending on the patient’s symptoms and physical assessment. In general, after symptoms are identified, there is no requirement for testing. Here are the tests ordered when patients complain of chest pain:

  • Lung testing to identify problems like pneumonia
  • Heart and vascular issues to identify a heart attack 
  • Digestive testing to determine chronic acid reflux or GERD 
  • Musculoskeletal testing to identify problems like a broken rib 

What are the options for costochondritis treatment?

Firstly, it is important to understand that whenever chest pain is experienced, one must consult the doctor. With the proper diagnosis and symptoms, the doctor recommends treatment accordingly. The doctor usually initially prescribes medicines to decrease the chest pain and swelling. The medications often given are ibuprofen, naproxen, and acetaminophen. The medicines should be taken as per the doctor’s prescription. If medications are not helpful, then the following costochondritis treatment options:

  • An inflammatory injection, corticosteroids
  • A small device that involves using the electric current, Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS for the management and treatment of pain


If you regularly are experiencing chest pain and is serious, you must consult the emergency department or doctor as soon as possible to determine the causes. It is often an indication of costochondritis, a heart attack, or any other serious problem. Usually, costochondritis is not a matter of concern, but should not be left untreated for the long-term. It is a temporary condition causing cartilage swelling. Options for the treatment available to treat the condition. You must ensure working with your doctor so that it can be managed efficiently so that the pain is reduced.



Is costochondritis dangerous?

No, costochondritis is a short-term condition and leads to cartilage swelling. 

How long does costochondritis last?

Usually, costochondritis doesn’t last for more than days or a few weeks. 

Can costochondritis cause rapid heart rate?

Yes, costochondritis can lead to rapid or slow heart rate.