Costochondritis

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the joints formed by the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone (sternum). The inflammation may be caused by an injury to the chest, but often the reason for the inflammation is not known.

Common symptoms of costochondritis may include:

  • Sudden, severe pain and soreness in the chest, usually around the breastbone.
  • Pain that increases when pressure is applied to a specific area of the breastbone where the cartilage connects the ribs.
  • Pain that increases with coughing, sneezing, or deep breathing, all of which move the cartilage or the ribs.

The discomfort of costochondritis often lasts only a few days. Treatment includes rest, warm compresses, and the use of anti-inflammatory medications (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen).

Last Updated: April 24, 2009

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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