There is an inflammatory condition of the ribs and sternum that can cause chest pains and mimic a heart attack. This is called costochondritis; also known as Tietze's syndrome. Doctors aren't sure what causes this condition and it can become quite scary at times. The chest area feels painful to touch, particularly at the junction between the ribs and sternum and any movement of the chest, even bending and lying down, usually increases the pain.

Causes of costo

Costochondritis (costo) is a condition of unknown etiology, and researchers are finding that many factors play a role in the development of this syndrome.

Repetitive activity could be responsible for the inflammatory aching suffered by people who get costo. When sitting too long or using the computer without good posture or stretching too far can put stress on muscles and ligaments causing pain in the chest wall. Too much of upper body exercise can cause painful muscles with repetition, although this pain usually subsides much quicker than a costochondritis attack. People who are affected with fibromyalgia have a tendency of contracting costochondritis because muscles are hypersensitive.

Myofascial trigger and tender points develop in people with tense muscles, ones that spasm. Costo may be the result of these trigger or muscle spasms that develop in the rib area.

In people with fibromyalgia, there are numerous trigger points in the body and the ones located just below the collarbone to the left side can cause uncomfortable pain in the chest wall.

Infection, although rare, has caused cases of costochondritis. People who develop upper respiratory infections engage in coughing spells and these extensive periods of coughing can increase pain along the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the sternum.

Treatment of Costochondritis

Many rib discomforts can be treated at home with rest and ice, for at least the first day or so. After 24 to 48 hours, consider hot showers or applying a heating pad to relax the muscles.

If you can tolerate aspirin or ibuprofen, these medications can relieve pain and inflammation. If you have a stomach issue use acetaminophen, which helps with the pain, but doesn't really reduce inflammation.

On a more holistic approach, ginger and turmeric as supplements can help with inflammatory reactions in the body.

If the costo becomes unbearable some doctors treat patients with a short course of corticosteroids, such as prednisone or Medrol (methylprednisolone) tablets. Other doctors use steroid injections if a specific trigger point is causing the problem. Lidocaine patches are another option.

The bottom line on costochondritis

Costochondritis is a condition where patience is necessary. People must understand that costo may take months to heal and with chronic conditions, the rib pain comes and goes. Physical therapy can help you to learn the correct exercises to keep your muscles and ligaments toned and using heat to relax the muscles daily can be a lifesaver.