What Is Costochondritis?


By Dr Manjusha Agarwal in Internal Medicine

Costochondritis is an inflammatory condition that affects the cartilage connecting your ribs to your breastbone, known as the costochondral junctions. Chest pain, which can be sharp, stabbing, or aching in character, is the main sign of costochondritis. This pain can be localized or radiated to other areas of the chest, and it's typically worsened by activities like deep breathing, coughing, or physical exertion. Therefore, understanding what is costochondritis is crucial for proper diagnosis and management. In this blog we will delve into costochondritis causes its treatment and more.

What are the symptoms of costochondritis?

Proper diagnosis is crucial to rule out other serious medical conditions and ensure the right treatment approach. Recognizing costochondritis symptoms helps differentiate it from other conditions. Though it usually resolves on its own, if you experience a continuous presence of costochondritis symptoms. Then it's advisable to consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and management.

Chest Pain

Chest pain, which varies in intensity, is the primary sign of costochondritis. The main costochondritis pain areas are the front chest. With the sensation of sharp, stabbing, or aching feeling. It can happen periodically or continuously.

Tenderness in the chest area

Costochondritis pain areas in the costochondral junctions, which are the points where the ribs and breastbone join, may become sensitive to touch. Costochondritis causes soreness which is the major clue for diagnosis.

Pain doing any movement

Deep breathing, coughing, sneezing, and physical exertion are among the movements and activities that tend to exacerbate costochondritis pain. This characteristic distinguishes it from other reasons for chest pain.

Radiating Pain to other parts

Costochondritis-related chest pain occasionally spreads to the arms, shoulders, and other parts of the body. It is crucial to get a correct diagnosis because this radiating pain can be mistaken for heart-related illnesses.


Inflammation can cause swelling at the costochondral junctions, which can cause changes in the chest region that are either palpable or visible.

Pain with Pressure

Gently applying pressure to the affected area can trigger chest pain, helping healthcare professionals in diagnosing costochondritis.

See Also - Chest pain due to gas

Causes and risk factors

Understanding the costochondritis causes and risk factors is vital for both prevention and early diagnosis of this condition. It is crucial to keep close to costochondritis symptoms like chest bone swelling or severe pain. While the exact cause of costochondritis is often unclear, several factors can contribute to its development.

Trauma or Injury

Trauma or injury to the chest is one of the main causes of costochondritis. Costochondral junction inflammation can result from a direct blow to the chest or from a fall that strikes the chest region.

Repetitive Movements

Activities like heavy lifting that require repetitive upper body movements can put stress on the chest and increase the risk of developing costochondritis.


Inflammation in the chest region can occasionally result from bacterial or viral respiratory infections, such as pneumonia or respiratory tract infections, and raise the risk of developing costochondritis.


Costochondritis may result from certain inflammatory joint diseases that impair costochondral junctions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

Risk Factors for Costochondritis

Even though costochondritis can cause discomfort and pain. It's vital to remember that it's usually a benign condition that improves with time and proper care. Consult a medical professional for a thorough evaluation and advice on managing the condition. Here are certain risk factors to consider.

Physical Activity

Engaging in activities that strain the chest or upper body, such as weightlifting or contact sports, may increase the risk of developing costochondritis.

Medical Conditions

Pre-existing medical conditions, especially those that affect the joints or immune system, can raise the risk of developing costochondritis.

Respiratory Infections

A history of respiratory infections, such as bronchitis or the flu, can increase the likelihood of developing costochondritis.

Family History

Having a family history of costochondritis or inflammatory joint conditions can also be a risk factor. Costochondritis is more common in adults under the age of 40, and it tends to affect women more frequently than men.

What is the treatment for costochondritis?

The main goal of managing costochondritis is to manage the pain and discomfort that the illness causes. Even though costochondritis usually goes away on its own, there are a few treatment options that can lessen symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Pain Management

Controlling the pain and discomfort that costochondritis causes is the primary objective of treatment. Although the majority of cases of costochondritis resolve on their own, there are a few treatments that can minimize symptoms and improve the healing process.

Rest and Activity Modification

Adequate rest is crucial for healing inflamed costochondral junctions, and limiting activities that worsen pain is essential. Repetitive chest and upper body movements should be avoided, especially those that trigger or worsen costochondritis pain areas.

Chest Support

Putting on braces or rib belts that provide chest support. Some people find that wearing braces or rib belts to support and ease the strain on their chest area helps.

Physical Therapy

Therapeutic Exercises can strengthen the muscles around the chest, increase its flexibility, and hasten the healing process. As it can reduce chest bone swelling and alleviate pain. A physical therapist can suggest exercises that are specific to your situation.

Hot or Cold Therapy

Hot or Cold therapy is used for costochondritis treatment. It helps relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the affected area by applying heat or cold packs.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Maintaining good posture can reduce chest strain and promote healing. Proper breathing techniques can help manage costochondritis. Healthcare professionals may recommend corticosteroid injections to reduce pain and inflammation in the inflamed area.

Addressing Underlying Causes

In cases where costochondritis is associated with an underlying medical condition, such as arthritis, treating the underlying condition may help reduce the symptoms of costochondritis.

Monitoring for Complications

A healthcare professional may perform additional tests to rule out complications or other potential issues if chest bone swelling or other concerning symptoms persist. A qualified healthcare provider should be consulted to receive an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan. Even though costochondritis is usually benign, it's crucial to make sure your course of treatment is customized to your unique set of symptoms and requirements.

See Also - All About Chest Pain

Complications of costochondritis?

Most cases of costochondritis are benign and resolve on their own. However, costochondritis causes complications and can also be risky in some circumstances. When thinking about management and costochondritis treatment options, it's critical to be aware of these possible problems.

Prolonged Pain and Discomfort

Even with proper care and management, costochondritis pain can sometimes last a long time in certain people. Pain that is persistent or chronic can have a major impact on a person's quality of life.


There is a chance of misdiagnosing costochondritis because its symptoms can resemble those of other, more serious illnesses. Making sure you get the right diagnosis is important because chest pain can be related to lung or heart problems.

Delayed Treatment for Underlying Causes

It's critical to treat the underlying medical condition, such as arthritis, if costochondritis is a result of it. Postponing the treatment of these fundamental reasons may result in more serious health issues.

Complications from Treatment

Steroid injections are one of the costochondritis treatments that has some risks and potential side effects of its own. These could be systemic or localized adverse effects.

Impact on Daily Activities

A person's general well-being may be impacted by severe or chronic costochondritis, which can interfere with daily activities like work, exercise, and sleep.

Even though costochondritis complications are not common, it is important to see a rheumatologist for an accurate diagnosis and a customized treatment plan. This is crucial when dealing with chronic chest pain or discomfort or when costochondritis may be worsened by underlying medical conditions. Getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan is essential to effectively managing the illness and preventing complications.


Costochondritis is a benign condition causing chest pain and tenderness in the costochondral junctions. It can cause discomfort and concern for those experiencing it. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options is crucial for proper management. Global Hospitals offers a range of services to provide accurate diagnoses and tailored treatment plans for individuals with costochondritis or other medical concerns.

Our expertise and resources contribute significantly to the successful management of costochondritis. So that patients receive the best possible care. Timely and appropriate medical care can alleviate symptoms, reduce complications, and improve overall well-being.

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