What is Costochondritis?
Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage where your upper ribs meet your sternum. Its cause is often unknown but it can cause severe upper pain and is common in children aged 10-14. In an adult it can be associated with arthritis, overuse of your arms, chest infections (coughing), trauma to the chest or a complication after chest surgery. It affects more women than men.
What are the signs and symptoms of Costochondritis?
There are several noticeable signs which would suggest that an individual is suffering from Costochondritis. These include:
- Insidious onset (no obvious cause)
- Sharp pain where your ribs meet your sternum
- More than one rib affected
- Coughing sneezing and a deep breath are painful
- If there is swelling present you could have Tietze syndrome – a benign condition
What should I do if I think I have Costochondritis?
Firstly, you should rule out any serious condition such as a heart attack. Any chest pain, no matter how big or small should be taken seriously so please seek medical attention. Also, if it does not settle see your GP so that they can rule out any serious pathology such as tumours.
It is important to note that the vast majority of cases of Costochondritis are harmless.
Will physiotherapy help Costochondritis?
The main problem with Costochondritis is managing the pain until it goes away. Some patients with long term costochondritis report having feelings of anxiety, especially if deep breathing causes pain – this may last weeks, so physiotherapy can be a very useful tool to aid this.
Contact Harpenden Physiotherapy to find out more
At Harpenden Physiotherapy, we offer a range of services designed to aid with the treatment of upper body pain. We have physiotherapists who can help you with pain management including Acupuncture or Acupressure (no needles).