Chest pain is always taken seriously as it can be a strong indicator that something is wrong with your heart. You may notice when you go in for a checkup the doctor will usually ask if your symptoms include chest pain as they try to rule out heart issues. But sometimes chest pains don’t necessarily result in a heart condition. In fact, if you have costochondritis, the pain will subside on its own without you having to worry about your heart.
Costochondritis, also called tietze syndrome, is a condition in which inflammation occurs between the tissues that connect the rib to the sternum (breast bone). To some, this pain can be alarming because it may feel similar to the pain caused by an oncoming heart attack.
Causes: The cause of costochondritis isn’t clear, but there are some suspected reasons as to why inflammation may occur. Some potential causes of costochondritis are injury (blow to the chest), physical strain (heavy lifting, strenuous exercise), arthritis, joint infection, and tumors (cancerous and noncancerous).
Symptoms: Symptoms of costochondritis include chest pain, typically occurring on the left side, feelings of sharp pressure, painful ribs, and worsening pain when you cough or breathe.
The likelihood of developing costochondritis increases for those over the age of 40, especially in women.
Typical treatment of costochondritis includes taking anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, and – in very severe cases – surgery.
Since costochondritis can occur from physical strain, therapy may be helpful to stretch out the area. Stretching out the muscles in the chest may help alleviate pain associated with costochondritis.
Applying cold and hot compresses, too, can help alleviate pain. But most of all, it is best to rest to avoid further aggravating the pain. Costochondritis will go away on its own, but if you notice the pain is sticking around for weeks, seek out medical attention.