ABC Medical Center > Costochondritis

What is Costochondritis?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a condition in which the cartilaginous tissue that connects the ribs to the sternum has an inflammatory process that causes severe chest pain that can be confused with a heart attack.

It can occur in people of any age and gender but is usually more common in women over 45 years old.

It is also known as costosternal syndrome and can be due to various causes such as:

  • Trauma or injury to the chest.
  • Strenuous strength exercises.
  • Prolonged coughing fits.
  • Excessive weightlifting.
  • Joint diseases such as arthritis and osteoarthritis.
  • Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections in the joint.
  • Benign and malignant tumors.

When the cause cannot be identified, treatment focuses on symptom control and rest until it disappears in several days or weeks.

Signs and symptoms Costochondritis

  • Swelling and pain in the left part of the sternum.
  • Intense stabbing pain.
  • Chest pressure.
  • The pain radiates to several ribs.
  • Pain intensifies when coughing or taking deep breaths.

Due to its similarity with cardiac symptoms, as soon as you feel chest pain, go immediately to the ABC Medical Center Emergency Room, to identify the condition’s origin and avoid possible anomalies that put your life at risk.

Diagnosis and treatment Costochondritis

Once the doctor analyzes your symptoms and clinical history, they will perform a physical examination that will include a comprehensive sternum examination to detect the type of pain, inflammation, and hypersensitivity and move your arms and chest to observe your reaction to stimuli.

The pain experienced with costochondritis is similar to that manifested in cardiovascular, pulmonary, and gastric conditions, so it is necessary to perform a series of tests to rule out serious conditions and confirm the diagnosis, such as electrocardiogram, x-rays, computed tomography, and MRI.

Drugs indicated for symptom control include: 

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. 
  • Painkillers. 
  • Antidepressants.
  • Anticonvulsants. 

Physical therapy that includes stretching and flexibility exercises is recommended, as well as percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation to treat the painful area and decrease pain response.

In case these treatments do not work, there are procedures such as direct infiltration of anesthetics and corticosteroids in the affected joint, as well as surgical options in extreme situations.

At the Orthopedics and Traumatology Center, we seek to improve the lives of patients restricted or immobilized by musculoskeletal disorders or injuries. We specialize in the care of the locomotor system by integrating the latest medical, biological, and technological advances, in strict adherence to the highest international standards of patient care.


  • Alemán-Iñiguez JM, Hermida-Córdova H. Síndrome del opérculo torácico superior unilateral en un caso con costillas cervicales bilaterales. Neumol Cir Torax. 2021;80(2):122-127. doi:10.35366/100994. 
  • Oliu LH, Nazario DAM, Falcón VGC, et al. Osteosíntesis de múltiples fracturas costales desplazadas en un paciente con tórax batiente. Revista Cubana de Cirugía. 2018;57(2):1-7.
  • Martínez-Arias M, Menjivar-Rivera ÓM, Díaz-Martínez JL, et al. Fijación de arcos costales por mínima invasión. Neumol Cir Torax. 2018;77(3):203-208.

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