Costochondritis is a condition characterized by inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. This inflammation can cause chest pain and tenderness, which may worsen with deep breathing, coughing, or physical activity.
Costochondritis (Rib Cage Inflammation) | Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment
Costochondritis is usually a result of injury, strain, or infection, although the exact cause may not always be known. Although the condition is relatively harmless and self-limiting, it can be very uncomfortable and mimic heart-related conditions, leading to anxiety. Treatment options include pain relievers, rest, avoiding activities that aggravate the condition, and applying heat or cold to the affected area.
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- Chest pain
- Sharp or stabbing pain in the chest
- Inflammation and tenderness around the ribs
- Pain worsens with deep breaths, coughing, or physical activities
- Pain may radiate to the back or abdomen
- Difficulty breathing deeply
- Swelling or bruising in the affected area
The causes of Costochondritis may include:
- Trauma or injury to the chest
- Repetitive strain or overuse of the chest muscles
- Respiratory infections or prolonged coughing
- Arthritis or joint conditions
- Physical strain from strenuous exercises
- Joint or cartilage inflammation
Costochondritis is usually diagnosed through a series of assessments:
- Medical History: The doctor will start by asking about your symptoms, such as chest pain, and any relevant medical history. They may inquire about recent respiratory infections, trauma, or physical activities that could trigger or contribute to the condition.
- Physical Examination: A physical examination will be conducted to assess the location and intensity of the pain. The doctor will palpate the chest area, looking for tenderness or swelling in the costosternal joints.
- Diagnostic Tests: Additional tests may be performed to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other potential causes:
- Imaging Tests: X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans may be ordered to visualize the chest area and assess the condition of the cartilage and ribs.
- Electrocardiogram (ECG): An ECG may be performed to rule out any cardiac-related causes for the chest pain.
- Blood Tests: Although blood tests are not specific for costochondritis, they may be done to rule out other conditions such as infections or autoimmune disorders.
It's important to note that diagnosing costochondritis can sometimes be challenging, as the symptoms may mimic other conditions such as heart disease or gastrointestinal problems. Consulting with a healthcare professional is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.