Costochondritis (kos-toe-KHON-dri-tis) is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone (sternum) — a junction known as the costosternal joint. Pain caused by costochondritis may mimic that of a heart attack or other heart conditions.

Your doctor might refer to costochondritis by other names, including chest wall pain, costosternal syndrome and costosternal chondrodynia. When the pain of costochondritis is accompanied by swelling, it's referred to as Tietze syndrome.

Most cases of costochondritis have no apparent cause. In these cases, treatment focuses on easing your pain while you wait for costochondritis to improve on its own.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Prevention

The pain and tenderness associated with costochondritis usually:

  • Occurs on left side of breastbone
  • Affects more than one rib
  • Worsens when taking deep breaths or coughing

When to see a doctor

If you have chest pain, you should seek emergency medical attention to rule out life-threatening causes such as a heart attack.

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