Costochondritis

By Dr Guy Ashburner | February 23, 2016

Costochondritis

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone (Sternum)..Tietze’s syndrome happens when there is swelling along with the pain.

People with Costochondritis often experience chest pain in the area of the upper and middle ribs on either side of the sternum. The pain may radiate to the back or the abdomen.

Pain is usually felt when lifting the arm, deep breathing, coughing and lying on the painful side. This pain and tenderness can be reproduced by pushing on the involved cartilage in the front of the ribcage.You may also be at a higher risk of Costochondritis if you carry or lift heavy loads in an inefficient way which may increase stress and tension in muscles and joints in the chest.

For example,younger people should be careful lifting heavy school bags. Adults should be careful when performing physical tasks such as DIY,gardening or moving heavy furniture.

Performing exercises with poor technique or in an unnatural biomechanical position and weight lifting with heavier weight than one should can cause costochondritis. In certain positions force travels through the arms, into the shoulders and is transferred into the chest due to tension along the muscle chain. For example when doing press ups, bench pressing, planking or a sudden tennis movement.

Costochondritis can be caused by respiratory conditions or allergies where there is excessive or persistent severe coughing,constant deep breathing or sneezing. These abnormal repetitive rib movements increase the pressure on the chest wall and may cause inflammation and strain of the CostalCartilages.

One possibility is a trauma, which can be anything.Trauma to the chest wall from an assault or fall against a table or chest impact from a hard rugby tackle or a car accident where the chest hits against the steering wheel or airbag. Because of this trauma a lot of stress is put on the cartilage and an acute inflammatory response is the result. These kinds of traumas are often half the problem. Stiff spinal joints could be part of the cause of the problem. This stress can overload the cartilage and may cause too much tension on these structures.

People with these symptoms often have a hunched upper back (kyphosis) with rounded shoulders which roll forward. This type of posture puts the cartilage at the front of the chest under increased pressure which creates an inflammatory response and thus pain. If this posture does not change and the cause persists, this condition may not recover by itself.

After any heart problem has been is excluded by your doctor and these symptoms persist, it is advisable to visit an osteopath. Osteopathic treatment will include a thorough assessment to determine the cause of the costochondritis. Osteopathic hands on treatment is directed at rib structures to improve rib and thoracic spine mobility and help normalise body posture in conjunction with postural exercises. Pain medication can often relieve a bit, but will not treat the cause of the complaint.


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