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What is Costochondritis and how it is different from a Heart Attack?

Do you feel sharp chest pain while breathing, moving, or with any chest wall movement? Because of chest pain, people often get worried that the heart, lungs, or other types of fatal diseases are causing pain.

If you’re one of them, then this may not be a heart issue. It is the inflammation in the middle of your chest where the sternum (breastbone) and ribs meet. This inflammation is known as costochondritis.

The reason for chest pain may be the cause of costochondritis. Costochondritis is not a fatal disease; it can be recovered with some treatment and anti-inflammatory medications. If you have costochondritis then don’t worry it will naturally get better.

30% of the patients who have chest pain are diagnosed with Costochondritis.

There is no known exact cause of costochondritis, but the reason can be:

  • Too much coughing

  • Heavy weight lifting

  • An injury in the chest

  • Hard exercise

But So, it is not life-threatening. Many treatments are available that help to reduce the pain.

Sometimes it starts after exercise, minor trauma, have you noticed?

Pain comes from the protective cage of the ribs in the front of your chest wall. If pain increases at deep breathing, cough, and high fever then you must visit the doctor to seek medical assistance.

What is Costochondritis?

It is an inflammation of the chest area where the ribs connect to the breastbone. Costochondritis can be caused by the repetition of minor trauma and the reason also can be an infectious factor. Usually, pain affects the left side of your sternum, and patients might feel rising pressure that causes sharp pain. Sometimes the pain starts moving towards the shoulders and upper back of the body.

At first, it frequently affects the 2nd and 5th ribs and you may feel pain in your front chest wall. The pain increases with deep breaths or continuous coughs.

Symptoms of Costochondritis

Costochondritis leads patients to restlessness. You have to bear pain in the back parts of the body. The left side of the chest got inflammation and pressure. Sometimes pain increases as the days go by. Costochondritis mostly affects those over the age of 40. Around 2 to 5 ribs are affected by this condition. The pain starts from the upper left-sided ribs but can affect both sides.

It can be a sharp pain that may start to move toward the back side of the body. Pain becomes sharper While the pressure increases on the hurt areas of the chest, you may feel an aching pain if you can’t focus on that pain. It may spread to a wider area.

There have some reasons for increasing pain with costochondritis:

  • A lot of coughs

  • Hard exercise

  • Lifting heavy weight

  • Pain in shoulder and back

  • Physical activities like doing heavy jobs

Therefore I will give you the advice to seek medical assistance to make sure whether you have Costochondritis or not. Because sometimes the reason for chest pain can be Angina, Heart attack, Lung abscess, Bacterial, or Viral infections. To know the exact reason for chest pain you have to go to your Doctor.

Causes of Costochondritis

Costochondritis is not a contagious disease that can't be spread from one to another. Some of this condition is the sign of other problems that affect Cartilage-like Osteoarthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, and Rheumatoid Arthritis

No one knows the exact reason for costochondritis but there have many causes that lead to costochondritis:

  • Cough to hard

  • Fungal infection

  • Repetition of Trauma

  • Overburdened of arm

  • Have bacterial infection

  • Difficulty in breathing caused by a virus

  • Tumors can move from joints and other parts of your body and settle in your chest.

  • Bacterial infections, especially in people who use IV drugs or have had surgery near their upper chest

Because of this, costochondritis patients may have to face difficulty while taking breaths and have to bear severe chest pain in the chest.

Precaution For Costochondritis

Immediately leave the activities that increase pain in the chest like hard exercise, misuse of muscles, and avoid all types of movement that makes pain. There are no special diet plans to treat costochondritis but To reduce the inflammation, eat healthy food and avoid refined sugar, gluten, and fast food. Be careful until the affected ribs and inflammation haven't gotten well. When you feel pain then the best option is to apply hot or cold compresses. Keep holding these compresses on the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes. Fortunately, Costochondritis goes away after a few days, weeks, or maybe a few months. According to the doctors, pain mostly increases at night when an individual is laying. If you have shoulder issues due to costochondritis it is best to use back sleeping.

Fibromyalgia & Costochondritis

Is there a connection between fibromyalgia and costochondritis? If the cartilage gets inflamed due to fibromyalgia where the breastbone and ribs join, it results in costochondritis.

Some pain creates confusion whether it is heart pain or anything else.

Here is the difference between fibromyalgia and costochondritis

Causes of Fibromyalgia

  • Mood Problems

  • Chronic Muscle

  • Memory Loss

  • Bone pain

  • Fatigue

  • Sleep

Causes of Costochondritis:

  • Pain while taking a deep breath of cough

  • Swelling in the infected chest

  • Musculoskeletal chest pain


Either costochondritis goes away on its own but it takes a few months or weeks to heal naturally. But if you take medications that will help you relieve pain sooner.

Doctor Consultation

Your health care may recommend you the following:

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Anti-inflammatory will help you to lessen the swelling in the chest.

Anti-inflammatory drugs include ibuprofen or naproxen sodium; on the other hand, its side effects can include damaging the stomach lining and kidney problems.


Your doctor may provide you with narcotics such as tramadol (Ultram) as a painkiller in case of severe pain.


Antidepressants such as amitriptyline medicine help you to control chronic pain especially when it is hard to sleep well due to pain.

Anti-seizure Drugs

It is also used to control chronic pain.

These above costochondritis medicines aren't considered the real treatment for this disease and you may consult your doctors.


Physical Therapies are also the best way to get out of costochondritis. Physical therapies include

Stretching Exercises

This therapy includes gentle exercise for chest muscles that might be helpful to reduce swelling and relieve pain.

Nerve Stimulation

This therapy is performed by a device that sends a weak electrical current to the immediate pain area by using adhesive patches on the skin.

Home Remedies

No matter if your disease is old or new and how much time passed away to cope with costochondritis symptoms. There are a lot of ways to reduce the pain naturally. Like, do some light exercises at home

For example: raise your arms up in the way that your fingers point to the ceiling or keep your abs tight so that your back doesn’t wobble or arch.

In case of chronic pain, you can do the following jobs to reduce pain at home.

  • Heat or Ice: apply hot or ice compress on the painful area. Compressing several times a day gives you relief.

  • Rest: avoid carrying heavy bags or something else. Be careful to overuse the arm muscles. Take rest and do light jobs otherwise, that might worsen the pain.

  • Topical pain reliever: this remedy includes creams, gels patches, and sprays that will help you to relieve inflammation and pain

So, there is no need to panic because it is not a life-threatening disease. If you have costochondritis, take an appointment and seek medical assistance. You can get rid of the costochondritis With proper medication, gentle exercises, and self-care. In some cases, it gets better without any medication. Use anti-inflammatory food to reduce inflammation. By following the above instructions you can get better soon.

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