Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that
connects the inner end of each rib with the breastbone (sternum). It can occur in any age
group and is most common in young adults. Exactly how common it is in the UK is not known
but in the US costochondritis has been shown to account for 10 per cent of chest pain
episodes in the community and 30 per cent of people with chest pain presenting as an
emergency to hospital.
Why or how does a person get
costochondritis or Costosternal syndrome?
The risk of developing costochondritis increases with any
physical activity that causes trauma or strain to the ribcage. It is a benign condition
usually of short duration that resolves completely. Sometimes though it can recur or
Symptoms of Costosternal syndrome
The predominant symptom is a sharp pain in the affected
area, most commonly involving the second or third ribs, which are often very tender to
touch. (Ribs are counted down from the top and the first rib lies under the collar bone).
The pain is usually related to movement, coughing and sneezing and can occur in more than
one place simultaneously. Pain can also radiate into the arm and can be associated with a
feeling of tightness in the chest. These are also the symptoms of a heart attack, so it is
always necessary to take them seriously and make the diagnosis of costochondritis with
How is costochondritis diagnosed?
The person's medical history and results of examination
are usually sufficient, but if the pattern of pain suggests that it could be heart pain it
needs to be thoroughly investigated.
Information compiled from the National Institutes of Health