Costochondritis in fibromyalgia

People with fibromyalgia are also susceptible to chest pain, a condition known as costochondritis. Chest pain can range from mild discomfort to excruciating pain described as similar to a heart attack.

What is costochondritis?

Costochondritis is basically an inflammation of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the sternum, also known as the costochondral joints. Depending on the intensity of the inflammation, you may experience mild to extreme level of chest pain. The pain is often known as burning or stabbing.

What Causes Costochondritis?

The exact cause (s) of costochondritis is not known, however the three most common reasons that lead to costochondritis are:

  • Viral infections related to the upper respiratory tract
  • chest trauma especially from traffic accidents
  • frequent trauma conditions

What are the symptoms?

Chronic pain in the rib cage and chest wall is the main symptom. Pain can get worse with exercise and active living. In fact, any minor movement that activates the inflamed cartilage, such as deep breathing, sneezing, or coughing, can increase pain. The pain can also move up towards your shoulders and arms until it is very similar during a heart attack. Sometimes swelling and redness are seen in the affected area and this condition is known as Tietze syndrome.

What is the relationship between fibromyalgia and Costochondritis

It has been observed that people with fibromyalgia are more likely to suffer from symptoms that are very similar to costochondritis. However, it is not clear whether costochondritis is a symptom of fibromyalgia or the result of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory condition and therefore is unlikely to cause inflammation at the costochondral junctions. However, one theory suggests that fibromyalgia tender points just below the collarbone may play a role in causing costochondritis, but there are no definitive reasons.

How to diagnose costochondritis?

Healthcare professionals can easily diagnose costochondritis by pressing on the joints where the sternum connects to the ribs. If you feel pain and tenderness when pressure is applied to the mentioned joint, it is very likely that you have Costochondritis. In order to make sure that the chest pain is not caused by problems related to the heart, the doctor will also carry out other tests before making a definitive diagnosis.

How is Costochondritis treated?

Like any other inflammation, costochondritis is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin and Advil or ice treatment.

Before starting any anti-inflammatory treatment, it is recommended that you should consult your doctor so that there are no complications involved. Living with both the fibromyalgia disorders and costochondritis is hard as you suffer from a combination of pain and inflammation. Seek medical treatment as soon as you notice symptoms.

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