Costochondritis symptoms can be alarmingly similar to that of a heart attack or other heart-related conditions. Because of the similarities in symptoms and location, it is important to have a qualified health care professional assess the problem as soon as possible. Costochondritis is an inflammation in the cartilage in the area that attaches ribs to the breastbone. It may be caused by injury or strain, fibromyalgia, infection or respiratory illness.
- Pain Pain is the most common of the costochondritis symptoms list. Pain is often sharp, but may be dull and constant.
- Tenderness With costochondritis, the area is usually tender to the touch or to moderate pressure.
- Location Costochondritis symptoms are generally felt on the left side of the chest, but can occur on either or both sides.
- Breathing difficulties Pain may occur while breathing or coughing. This pain may make taking a deep breath difficult or impossible until the condition gets better.
Costochondritis symptoms occur more frequently in women, children and adolescents. Costochondritis is often confused with a similar condition called Tietze syndrome, which presents with similar symptoms yet has the added component of localized swelling that can last for months. Treatment for costochondritis consists of pain management while the condition remedies itself. Rest, gentle stretching, heating pads and pain medications or muscle relaxants may be recommended for costochondritis symptoms. Prevention may entail avoiding catching respiratory illnesses, aggravating activities such as heavy lifting, and avoidance of carrying heavy backpacks. Costochondritis is typically short-lived and, with appropriate pain and risk management, may be avoided in the future.