Tietze Syndrome

What is Tietze Syndrome? If you have never heard of Tietze Syndrome, or Costochondral Junction Syndrome as it’s sometimes called, you are not alone. It is a somewhat rare medical condition that is often discovered when patients seek treatment for a suspected heart attack or other heart related ailment. What are some facts that you should know about Tietze Syndrome?

Tietze Syndrome basics. Tietze Syndrome is a disorder affecting the cartilage joint connections of the upper ribcage area—generally at the joints between the breastbone and ribs—or the collarbone and rib joints. Patients suffering from Tietze Syndrome experience noticeable and painful inflammation of the cartilage which leads to sometimes severe chest pain. Because the pain often begins without overexertion or may occur suddenly, many sufferers initially suspect the heart to be the blame for the discomfort. Tietze Syndrome is considered relatively harmless—aside from the discomfort—unlike other chest pain producing ailments.

What causes Tietze Syndrome? The exact cause of Tietze Syndrome is unknown. Some patients may develop the condition after a virus—others may experience the painful swelling after muscle strain or strenuous activity. For most sufferers, the cause is unknown making the condition nearly impossible to prevent.

Is Tietze Syndrome the same as costochondritis? While the names are sometimes used interchangably, they are not entirely the same. Both conditions involve unexplained chest pain and tenderness. However, the swelling and inflammation of the ribcage is more visible with Tietze Syndrome and is more point specific than with costochondritis.

What are the symptoms of Tietze Syndrome? Tietze Syndrome is characterized by pain, swelling and tenderness in specific spots of the upper ribcage area. Some patients are able to observe redness or even excess heat in the affected areas. The pain level ranges from mild to severe—and can last for several weeks. The condition is more common in teen and young adults as well as in females.

How is Tietze Syndrome diagnosed? Patients often fear that they are having a heart attack and seek medical attention. Medical providers conduct a visual and physical examination and consider the patient’s medical history. If there are no other signs of a heart related concern, such as abnormal heart rate or palipitations or other physical symptoms, additional testing may not be necessary. Blood work, chest exams or heart monitoring may be necessary for some patients to ensure a proper diagnosis.

What is the treatment for Tietze Syndrome? Tietze Syndrome generally relieves itself with time. Patients are directed to rest, use heat or ice therapy and take over the counter pain or anti-inflammatory medications for comfort until the condition subsides. In severe cases, cortisone injections or prescription strength pain medications may be used.

What can be done to prevent Tietze Syndrome. In many cases, the cause of the ailment is unknown. There are possible risk factors, such as various forms of arthritis, but prevention is currently considered impossible. It is important to verify the diagnosis of Tietze Syndrome with a physician since symptoms are similar to those present in heart disease, bone disease, or gastrointestinal disorders.

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