Tietze Syndrome is an inflammation of a rib or the cartilage
connecting a rib. This is a common cause of chest-wall pain. Inflammation or injury
involving the chest muscles is another common cause of chest-wall pain.
Symptoms of Tietze Syndrome
The problem is marked by chest tightness and sharp pain that worsens when you move or
breathe deeply. The pain may spread to the arm and may occur in more than one place.
In the beginning the pain is usually worse and it hurts to breathe, wear a bra or move
suddenly. Eventually the pain subsides to a dull, constant ache or tenderness in the ribs.
The cause of this condition is usually unknown but it can be the result of trauma to the
rib cage, a viral infection or part of an inflammatory disease. The symptoms usually
disappear spontaneously within eight weeks but sometimes it takes up to a year and in some
individuals it remains a chronic condition. When it is a chronic condition the pain seems
to wax and wane and any sudden movement or lifting of heavy objects could make the
Some sufferers start thinking that there is something wrong with their lungs when they
start finding difficulty in breathing. However there is no reason for alarm. This happens
because due to the swelling around the ribs, the lungs cannot expand fully.
Stress contributes to the pain because it makes the muscles tense. Other things which
hurt are lifting, pushing, pulling, sneezing, coughing, long hours of driving or using the
computer, repetitive motions and caffeine. Cold, rainy and humid weather also make a lot
of sufferers feel worse. Ideally these situations should be avoided but where it is not
possible it is important that they be carried out with care.
Treatment of Tietze Syndrome
The first action to take after being diagnosed with Tietze Syndrome is to make sure you
get plenty of rest and apply heat to the affected area. There are many anti-inflammatory
medications that can be bought over the counter like aspirin or Ibuprofen but your GP can
prescribe something stronger if he thinks it is necessary. Cortisone shots are another
alternative but they are not a cure and are not recommended as they are said to weaken the
cartilage after long periods of use. Physiotherapy and acupuncture have also helped some
- Avoid exhausting physical activity and try not to bump your ribs as you move around.
- Applying heat to the injury may help relieve pain. Use a warm heating pad, whirlpool
bath, or warm, moist towels for 10 to 20 minutes every hour for 48 hours.
- Nonprescription medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and ibuprofen may ease the