Costochondritis and the Effects of Harmless Chest Pain

Mar 9, 2017 | Blog, Pain Management

Chest pain can be scary, but in some cases it is harmless. Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the breastbone to the upper ribs. Though painful, it is harmless and usually goes away on its own after several weeks. Costochondritis is also called chest wall pain, costosternal syndrome and costosternal chondrodynia. Pain from costochondritis can be scary because it can seem like a heart attack or other heart condition, occurring on the left side of the breastbone. It can be sharp, aching or pressure-like, can affect more than one rib, and worsens if you take a deep breath or cough.

In most cases, costochondritis has no determinable cause, but may be related to increased activity of the arms. In a few cases, an infection or complications after sternum surgery is the cause.

Never Assume!

If you experience chest pain, do not assume costochondritis is all you have. Chest pain can be a symptom of a heart problem and should always be taken seriously. At Comprehensive Spine & Pain Physicians, our experience and latest medical technology enables us to quickly and accurately determine if you have a serious condition.

Ruling Out Possibilities

Since there is no test for costochondritis, other tests need to be run to rule out other conditions. It is difficult to distinguish between heart disease and costochondritis without experienced physicians and extensive testing. Having a well-trained doctor to properly review your test results and diagnose your condition is of the utmost importance.

Our Treatment

Since costochondritis does not normally have an apparent cause, treatment is all about pain management. Depending on the nature of your symptoms and condition, we may recommend:

  •       Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen
  •       Narcotics
  •       Antidepressants
  •       Anti-seizure drugs
  •       Heat or ice packs
  •       Taking a break from any unnecessary exercise or activities that increase the pain
  •       Stretches
  •       Steroid injections
  •       Electrical nerve stimulation

If none of these treatments work and your costochondritis does not go away on its own, we may recommend surgery to remove the sore cartilage.

If you suffer from any chest pain, contact us Comprehensive Spine & Pain Physicians at (818) 325-2088. We are dedicated to helping you create a higher quality of life. We offer the latest treatments and therapies, with understanding and compassion.  With offices in Burbank and Glendale, we offer easy access to our services. All locations are wheelchair accessible and designed for your convenience, comfort, and privacy.