Chronic costochondritis is often mistaken for Tietze’s syndrome. It is important to know that the two conditions are not alike. Tietze’s syndrome is different for there will be notable inflammation or swelling on the affected rib joint or costosternal joint. Although costocondritis is caused by an inflammation of the cartilage, the inflammation is not severe enough that it will result to an obvious and palpable swelling of the rib cage.
- Ordinary or acute costochondritis can be caused by repeated microtrauma on the chest, injury to the sternum, and even as a complication a surgery performed at the sternum. Usually the condition can last for hours to days. However, prolonged chest wall pain can lead to chronic costochondritis.
- Chronic costochondritis is often believed to be due to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a medical disorder where there is chronic spread of pain and heightened perception to pressure.
Chronic chostochondritis does not always have to be caused by Fibromyalgia. Once costochondritis affects you for a long period of time that span from months to years, it is thereby considered as chronic. The treatment can still be the same as with acute chostochondritis, such as NSAID’s for pain relief. Some combine muscle relaxants with pain medications to help ease chest wall pain. If these do not work, then an injection of local anesthetic combined with cortisone is given by the doctor if the pain is so severe and debilitating. Severe measures can be chest wall surgery that involves removal of the cartilage that causes the pain.
Some patients often fear that they are suffering from a heart attack as costochondritis can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. Symptoms often include pain when breathing deeply, coughing, lifting heavy objects, or doing something that you are not accustomed of doing. The nature of the pain is the same with both acute and chronic costochondritis. The pain can be dull, allowing you to do your work with discomfort. Other times, the pain can be so severe, you would have to sit down and rest to calm your breathing and ease the pain. You must go for a check-up, however, if you have a history of heart disease and you experience chest wall pain. Chest pain is considered an emergency and should be seen to the doctor right away to rule out the presence of a heart attack.