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Costochondritis

Costochondritis Overview

Costochondritis is inflammation of the junctions where the upper ribs join with the cartilage that holds them to the breastbone or sternum. The condition causes localized chest wall pain and tenderness that can be reproduced by pushing on the involved cartilage in the front of the rib cage. Costochondritis is a relatively harmless musculoskeletal chest pain and usually resolves without treatment. The cause is usually unknown. Costochondritis affects females more often than males (70% versus 30%).

  • Costochondritis is a common cause of chest pain in children and adolescents. It accounts for 10%-30% of all chest pain in children. Annually, doctors evaluate about 650,000 cases of chest pain in young people 10-21 years of age. The peak age for the condition is 12-14 years of age.
  • Overall, costochondritis is one of the most common causes of musculoskeletal chest pain.
  • While chest pain can represent heart disease and heart attack, inflammation around the heart (pericarditis) or lungs (pleuritis), costochondritis is also considered as a possible diagnosis in adults with chest pain.
  • Tietze syndrome is also a cause of localized musculoskeletal chest pain that is distinguished from the more common costochondritis.
    • As opposed to costochondritis in which there is no swelling, Tietze syndrome is accompanied by a localized swelling at the painful area (the junction of the ribs and breastbone).
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/28/2014

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Costochondritis »

In contrast to myocardial ischemia or infarction, costochondritis is a benign cause of chest pain and is an important consideration in the differential diagnosis.

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