Costochondritis is an inflammation of the joint between one or more ribs and the sternum. This causes sharp, local pain in the chest wall. It is common for pressure to the ribs to cause increased pain. Breathing, especially deep breathing, also increases the pain. A blood test for a sedimentation rate may show an elevation (indicative of inflammation in the body).

Costochondritis can be caused by injury, exercise, infection and even excessive coughing. There may also be no identifiable cause. Heredity may play a role. It can be of a brief or a chronic nature. It may be associated with other medical conditions such as fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter's disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or arthritis.

Costochondritis can be treated with rest, avoiding aggravating lifting or straining movements, anti-inflammatory drugs (oral or local injections), ice compresses and/or heating pads.

Chest pain should always be evaluated to rule out heart problems but if the problem turns out to be costochondritis or Tietze's syndrome the prognosis is not life threatening.

Tietze's syndrome seems to be costochondritis plus local swelling. Sometimes the swelling goes away as the pain decreases and sometimes the swelling persists even after the pain has stopped.


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