What Causes Costochondritis to Flare Up?



Signs and symptoms of costochondritis

Sometimes costochondritis builds slowly, but it can also appear suddenly and make its presence known with chest pain on the left side. Since the pain occurs near the location of your heart, you might worry that you’re experiencing a heart attack. It’s important to check in at a clinic to help you rule out this possibility if you’re experiencing other severe symptoms. 

Costochondritis presents a couple of warning signs and symptoms that you’ll want to recognize:

Chest pain

The most noticeable symptom, chest pain, can be moderate to severe and may develop into a sharp, stabbing sensation. You feel this pain to the left of your sternum, and you might also feel a lot of pressure. In some cases, the pain may spread toward your shoulder and upper back.

Your chest pain may worsen when you cough, sneeze, or take deep breaths. It might also feel worse when you lay down to sleep or if you’re doing anything strenuous like heavy lifting or intense exercise.

Chest tenderness

The other main symptom of costochondritis is tenderness when pushing down on your sternum and rib joints. This tenderness or soreness is due to the inflammation affecting your costal cartilage, and it becomes more intense the more pressure you apply to the area.

These two symptoms, chest pain and tenderness, can also apply to a rare but similar condition called Tietze syndrome. The main difference between these conditions is that Tietze causes swelling at the site of inflammation, along with occasional redness. There is no swelling associated with the pain and tenderness of costochondritis.

In addition, Tietze is more common in children and young adults, and it affects the area between the second and third rib. Costochondritis, on the other hand, affects multiple cartilage sites from the second through fifth rib joints.


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