Costosternal Syndrome

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Costosternal Syndrome is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone. It causes sharp pain in the costosternal joint — where your ribs and breastbone are joined by rubbery cartilage. Pain caused by costochondritis may mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.

Most cases of costochondritis have no apparent cause. In these cases, treatment focuses on easing your pain while you wait for costochondritis to resolve on its own.

Costosternal syndrome causes pain and tenderness in the locations where your ribs attach to your breastbone. Often the pain is sharp, though it can also feel like a dull, gnawing pain. Pain associated with costochondritis occurs most often on the left side of your breastbone, though it can occur on either side of your chest.

Other costochondritis symptoms may include:

  • Pain when taking deep breaths
  • Pain when coughing
  • Difficulty breathing

  • Costochondritis is the most common cause of chest pain originating in the chest wall. It occurs most often in women and people over age 40. However, costochondritis can affect anyone, including infants and children.

    Doctors don't know what causes most cases of costochondritis. Only some cases of costochondritis have a clear cause. Those causes include:

    ....Injury A blow to the chest could cause costochondritis.

    ....Infection Infection can develop in the costosternal joint, causing pain.

    ....Fibromyalgia Recurring costochondritis could be a symptom of fibromyalgia. People with fibromyalgia often have several tender spots. The upper part of the breastbone is a common tender spot.

    ....Pain from other areas of your body Pain signals can sometimes be misinterpreted by your brain, causing pain in places far away from where the problem occurs. Your doctor might refer to this as "referred pain." Pain in your chest can sometimes be caused by problems with the bones in your spine compressing the nerves.

    Costochondritis usually goes away on its own. The pain usually lasts a week or two and then resolves. To ease your pain until it fades, your doctor may recommend:

    ....Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve)

    ....Antidepressants specifically a category of medicines called tricyclic antidepressants, if pain is making it difficult to sleep at night

    ....Muscle relaxants which can also help ease pain


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