What is Costochondritis?
What is Costochondritis? Costochondritis is an inflammation of the joint Costochondral, the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. This condition is often mistaken for Tietze’s syndrome because the affected part of the body is similar and the symptoms are similar.
The significant difference between the two diseases is the age of the sufferer. Costochondritis generally attacks people over the age of 40 years, while Tietze syndrome tends to be experienced by young adults under 40 years.
Symptoms of Costochondritis
The main symptom of costocondritis is chest pain that can appear suddenly or slowly. The pain generally occurs in the left breastbone with the characteristics of chest pain that:
- Feels dull or sharp like being stabbed.
- Getting sick when coughing, sneezing, or taking a deep breath.
- Reda when the patient is silent or increases when moving.
- Attack more than 1 rib.
Chest pain is an indication of a variety of potentially fatal health conditions, such as heart attack or stroke. Immediately consult a doctor if you have chest pain, especially with difficulty breathing, fever, nausea, and sweating.
Causes of Costochondritis
Until now, the cause of costochondritis is not known for certain. However there are a number of diseases suspected to be associated with this inflammation. Some of these include:
- Injury to the chest, eg due to excessive exercise or lifting weights that are too heavy.
- Severe cough.
- Viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. For example, upper respiratory tract infections.
- Arthritis, such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Diagnosis of Costochondritis
Because the main symptoms are common, the diagnosis of costochondritis is difficult. The doctor will need a series of detailed examinations to remove the possibility of other diseases. Here are the types of checks that patients usually take:
- Physical examination of the breastbone and ribs. The doctor will check the painful part as well as ask for symptoms experienced by the patient.
- Blood tests to see blood sugar, cholesterol, or other inflammation.
- Electrocardiogram (EKG) which will record the rhythm and electrical activity of the heart.
- Chest X-ray.
Costochondritis generally can heal by itself in a few weeks without the need for special handling. There are some simple steps that can reduce the symptoms, namely:
- Paste a warm compress on the sore part.
- Avoiding activities that trigger chest pain.
- Using over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
But if chest pain persists or does not subsist, doctors will suggest some medical treatment steps such as:
- Injections of corticosteroids on the part of the pain.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), a procedure for relieving pain through light electrical current. TENS will block the pain signal so that it does not reach the brain.
- Surgery to remove part of cartilage that is inflamed. This step is only recommended if other methods of treatment prove to be ineffective.