There are several medical terms for this condition, but one of the most regularly used is costochondritis. Its main characteristic is pain in the area between the breastbone and ribs, but when this pain is followed by swelling, then the term used is Tietze syndrome. The pain in question can be sharp or dull, it can be present on both sides of the chest, and it might appear when coughing, bending, lying down, taking deep breaths, or even when just breathing normally. If it does not disappear after a few days, or if it becomes worse, it is necessary to visit a doctor. Due to its characteristics, this condition can very easily be mistaken for pain that occurs during heart attack, but what can help in making the difference is the fact that in cases of heart attack, the pain is not localized on a small area and stress or physical activity does make it worse, which cannot be said for costochondritis.
As for the possible culprits, when it comes to chest wall inflammation, overuse is a very frequent cause in athletes. Rowing, for example, is an activity that can result in the damage of the cartilage in the chest wall, which has an inflammation as a consequence. Injuries and trauma to the rib cage also result in inflammation of the chest wall, as well as upper respiratory tract infections.
How can this condition be treated?
Besides physical examination and patient’s medical history, chest wall inflammation can be diagnosed with the help of certain laboratory tests, which will eliminate heart diseases as causes of the pain in the chest. The time that is needed for this health issue to heal is approximately a week or two and in most cases, it will happen without the need to use some medications, unless the infection is the cause. If people cannot deal with the pain that easily, it is allowed to take some medications that work as muscle relaxants or anti-inflammatories. If the pain is intolerable, even steroid injections might be an option. There are also cases or chest wall inflammation in which the people have problems with sleep at night due to the pain, and such cases might require employment of tricyclic antidepressants.
As for some self-care methods, the only one that is suggested refers to the heating pads and their application on the painful area. While the treatment lasts, it is of crucial importance to avoid any activity that might aggravate the pain.