By: Connie Johnson
What is Costochondritis ?
Costochondritis pain is often described as a stabbing or aching pain in the ribs. This pain can wax and wane: some days it will be worse, while other days it will be much better.
The sharp pain caused by costochondritis generally begins in the chest. This pain can then radiate outwards, attacking the shoulders, neck, and upper abdomen.
Costochondritis pain can last for long periods of time and chronic costochondritis is not uncommon. However, most pain should be gone within 6 months to a year from the onset of symptoms.
Symptoms of Costochondritis
If you have fibromyalgia, be on the lookout for these costochondritis symptoms:
sharp, stabbing pain in the front of the chest
ribs that are sore to the touch
pain on the left or right side of the chest
upper chest pains
burning pain in the ribs
pain that radiates up the back of the neck and shoulders
pain in your chest when you sneeze or cough
pain that increases with activity, exertion, or deep breathing
pain that decreases with rest, movement, or slow breathing
Costochondritis is also associated with other, secondary symptoms. These include:
rapid heart rate
irregular heart rate
shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms it is important to visit with your health care provider in order to rule out any other complications.
Causes of Costochondritis in Fibromyalgia
To date, the specific causes of costochondritis are unknown, though researchers do believe that a variety of factors could play a role in the development of the illness.
Repetitive Activity: Repetitive activity may be responsible for the chest pain suffered by people with fibromyalgia. Sitting at a desk or leaning forward over a computer for long periods of time often puts stress on the muscles in the chest.
People with fibromyalgia already have hypersensitive muscles, and this repetitive activity may exacerbate pain in the chest area, causing costochondritis.
Fibromyalgia Tender Points: The tender points present in fibromyalgia may be responsible for causing costochondritis in fibromyalgia sufferers. Tender points are located just to the left of the chest, underneath the collarbone. These tender points may be causing intense pain in the chest region.
Myofascial Pain: Many fibromyalgia sufferers also have myofascial pain syndrome, an illness that causes the appearance of painful trigger points throughout the body. Costochondritis may be the result of trigger points that have developed in the rib area.
Infection: Rarely, costochondritis can be caused by upper respiratory tract infections or non-allergic rhinitis. These conditions can cause long periods of repetitive coughing. This coughing can stress and strain the cartilage that connects the ribs with the sternum, causing constant chest pains.
Effects of Costochondiritis on Fibromyalgia
Costochondritis can exacerbate the symptoms of fibromyalgia. In particular, fibromyalgia often inhibits your ability to participate in certain activities or sit in certain positions for long periods.
Because costochondritis causes such intense chest pain, it often makes sleeping difficult or impossible, causing disordered sleeping and insomnia. Costochondritis disability is not uncommon, especially in fibromyalgia.