All You Need To Know About Costochondritis

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All You Need To Know About Costochondritis

Have you ever experienced a sharp pain in the chest, especially where your rib joins the breastbone? Is the pain getting worse with specific movements and deep breathing?

Don’t be panicked; it’s not a sign of a heart attack.

This condition is costochondritis – benign and non-life-threatening chest pain due to inflammation of joints between your ribs and breast bones. The pain is usually mild; however, often, the pain gets severe and alarming that people become fearful of having a heart attack or lung problem.

This article will explore all you need to know about costochondritis: cause, symptoms, risks, treatment, and the role of osteopath or chiropractor for costochondritis.

What Is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is harmless chest pain – an inflammation of the cartilage. It’s the area that joins the rib and breastbone. Doctors also refer to chest wall pain, costosternal syndrome, or costosternal chondrodynia.

Each rib at the front side of your body joins the breastbone, aka the sternum. It usually attaches via a cartilaginous structure, the costal cartilage. That allows each rib greater flexibility of the ribcage. It also increases the elasticity to ease breathing.

When inflammation occurs between the costal cartilage and the sternum junction, you experience costochondritis.

Chest pain due to costochondritis can be both mild and severe. You will undergo tender chest pain in mild cases, especially when pushing the area. However, severe pain may occur in some instances that get worse with movements and deep breathing.

The condition usually goes away on its own with time – usually within a few weeks or months. However, severe cases may need medical attention.

Usually, many get frightened, thinking the pain is related to heart or lung disease. However, if your chest pain accompanies radiating pain with shortness of breath, fever, cough, dizziness, it can be a sign of a severe health condition. In that case, immediate medical attention is necessary.

What Are The Causes of Costochondritis?

All You Need To Know About CostochondritisIt’s not clear or known why you experience costochondritis. However, a few conditions may trigger chest pain. These conditions include-


  • Trauma or injury to your chest; for example – a car accident
  • Physical strain from heavy lifting, activities, or strenuous exercise
  • Arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, or other conditions can affect your cartilage
  • Joint infection due to certain viruses or respiratory illnesses such as tuberculosis, syphilis, etc.
  • Severe coughing
  • History of a condition causing severe cough
  • Large breast
  • Certain surgeries that can affect the chest wall, such as cardiac bypass
  • Cancerous or noncancerous tumors

Osteopath Or Chiropractor For Costochondritis

Many often ask if “osteopath or chiropractor for costochondritis helpful?” let’s explore osteopath vs. chiropractor and if they can manage your costochondritis.


Osteopathy is an alternative medicine focusing on myofascial release, manual adjustment, and physical manipulations of your muscle tissues and bones. An osteopath usually focuses on musculoskeletal issues – arthritis, postural imbalance, joints or muscle strains, sciatica, whiplash, etc.

Osteopathy effectively treats issues with your lower limb, shoulder, and neck pains. It is also helpful in facilitating the recovery after knee and hip surgery.


Chiropractic is also an alternative medicine that focuses on your joint spine and your body’s overall nervous system. A chiropractor usually uses hands, and the adjustment is a safe, specific, and controlled force.

When applied to your joints or muscles, chiropractic helps restore mobility and function. The traumas your tissues, spine, and related joints encounter due to falls, accidents, stress, or overexertion; chiropractic can improve them. It helps reduce pains and improve their performance and movement.

Osteopath VS. Chiropractor

The primary difference between an osteopath and a chiropractor is the medical degree.

An osteopath holds a medical degree the same as any M.D and can prescribe medication. On the other hand, a chiropractor holds a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree; however, they can not prescribe medication.

In addition, an osteopath mainly focuses on manipulating soft tissues through stretching and massage. Contrarily, a chiropractor uses chiropractic adjustments to fix misalignments of the joints.

Despite their differences, both are skilled and knowledgeable in their particular area and offers a holistic approach to your body.

They believe each condition affects your overall system, and your body is capable of healing itself. Therefore, if you go with wrist pain, both practitioners will consider your overall body to treat the underlying condition, expanding their treatment to your elbow, spine, or other areas.

In addition, they will recommend restoring your body’s optimum wellness correcting the cause without relying on medicines or surgical methods.

Which Is Good For Costochondritis?

Osteopathy and chiropractic both help manage costochondritis. The good news is you can seek help from both simultaneously.

Chiropractic can help you reduce costochondritis pain. With regular care and careful exercise with a chiropractor’s supervision, you can manage the symptoms and cause. In addition, you can prevent their re-arrival too.

Osteopaths look into the tight and fixed rib joints to get the thoracic mechanism to work correctly by assessing the breathing mechanism and the diaphragm. The prescribed exercises also improve the rib head’s movement, facilitating your healing process.

What Are The Symptoms Of Costochondritis?

Costochondritis usually causes chest pain in the upper and middle rib area on both sides of your breastbone. It hits you suddenly and can increase with time.

Costochondritis chest pain often involves several additional symptoms, including-


  • Pain that feels sharp, aching, and pressure like
  • When you lie down pain that gets worse 
  • Pain that gets worse when you put pressure on your chest
  • Pain that gets worse when you cough or take a deep breath
  • With physical activities pain that gets worse 
  • Pain that usually occurs on your left side

When To See A Doctor

Costochondritis is usually harmless that goes away on its own. However, if your chest pain accompanies some additional symptoms, call your doctor or run to an emergency room.

The additional symptoms indicating a severe health condition include-


  • High temperature – over 100.4 °F
  • Breathlessness
  • Coughing – often associates with blood or dark-colored mucus
  • Palpitations or irregular and rapid heartbeat
  • Rash
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Heartburn or indigestion
  • Worsening pain that doesn’t go with pain reliever medicine
  • Radiating pain to your arms, neck, shoulder, jaw, or back

How To Diagnose Costochondritis?

There is no specific test to diagnose costochondritis. Yet, your doctor may perform some tests to determine the root of your pain. Besides, costochondritis often mimics heart disease, lung disease, gastrointestinal problems, and osteoarthritis; therefore, tests are essential to rule out any severity or life-threatening issue.

Physical exam

If you go to the doctor with chest wall pain, he will first feel along your breastbone to check for tenderness and swelling. He may also move your rib cage and arm in particular ways to trigger your pain.

He may also listen to your heart and lungs and check your skin for signs of infection.

Lab Tests

Usually, for costochondritis, you don’t need any lab tests. However, depending on your medical history and pain condition, your doctor may suggest some tests. Usually, lab tests help your doctor rule out other health issues like heart disease or lung disease.

X-rays, MRI, ECGs

X-rays usually help the doctor determine nothing abnormal or severe in the lung area. Your x-ray report will come perfectly normal with costochondritis.

Your doctor may also ask for ECGs if you are obese or have a history of smoking or heart disease. It will detect any problem with heart disease.

While diagnosing costochondritis, doctors usually run all those imaging tests to eliminate any severe condition associated with heart disease, lung disease, or gastrointestinal problems.

Treatment of Costochondritis

Costochondritis usually goes away on its own; however, it may take several weeks or months to leave you. The treatment typically focuses on resolving the pain.


Relieving you from the pain is the primary focus of your physician while dealing with costochondritis.

Your medications may include-


  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines – such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, etc.
  • Narcotics – medicines containing codeine for severe pain
  • Antidepressants – such as amitriptyline to manage pain if it’s hampering your night’s sleep
  • Anti-seizure medication – such as Neurontin that helps control chronic pain


To manage costochondritis, doctors often recommend therapy.


  • Costochondritis stretching exercise – pretty helpful for your chest muscle
  • Nerve stimulation – using a device,  transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), that sends weak current near the pain area via adhesive patches on the skin.
  • Costochondritis Massage – such as MFT, Swedish massage, shiatsu, neuromuscular therapy, polarity, jin shin, etc., can help facilitate your recovery; however, not in the chest area during the acute phase.

Surgical Method

If your pain becomes severe and no conservative ways work, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure to manage the condition. This procedure includes injecting numbing medication to insert a corticosteroid into your aching joint.

Lifestyle Modification

Lifestyle modification can be highly beneficial if you have persistent or chronic costochondritis. Your doctors may suggest several changes that include-


  • Rest
  • Hot or cold treatment with a heating pad and ice
  • Consider costochondritis sleeping position – sleep on the unaffected side, propping up your ribs with a pillow, and avoid sleeping on the affected side, the back, or the stomach.

Take Away

Costochondritis is a harmless chest pain arising from an inflammation in the joints between your rib and breastbone. However, not life-threatening; the pain can be bothering and alarming when it gets severe. Many often get frightened, considering the pain as a heart attack.

However, now you know all about costochondritis: cause, symptoms, treatment, and benefits of osteopath or chiropractor for costochondritis.

To deal with your costochondritis, contact My Concierge, MD, for proper diagnosis, treatment, and advice for lifestyle modification. The professional team is ready to help you with a comprehensive evaluation and examination of your pain to manage your condition quickly and completely.

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