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Inflamed Rib Cartilage

The condition of inflamed rib cartilage is also referred to as 'costochondritis' clinically. Get some basic facts about this condition that you wish to know, from this article.
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: Jan 21, 2018
The condition of inflamed rib cartilage, in most cases is associated with the cartilage that serves as a connecting medium between the ribs and the breastbone. The point where these two structures meet is known as the costosternal joint, and when the connecting cartilage between them gets inflamed, the condition is known as costochondritis. And the below would take you through the causes, the symptoms, and finally the treatment of this condition.
Pain is the major symptom. And how this pain originates, and its severity, are the other so-called symptoms. The most obvious place that the pain might be felt to be originating from, is the junction where the ribs join the cartilage. However, for some people, it may radiate to the back or abdomen. Most people experience the pain on the left side of their breastbone, although however, either side of the chest can be affected. The pain, for some people, may be sharp, while for some, it may be somewhat dull or gnawing. Also, the pain may occur or worsen during activities such as breathing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc. And when the person is at rest, the pain seems to subside. According to what has been observed by experts in most cases, the fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs are the areas that are felt as the most painful regions in this condition.
Possible Causes
Doctors aren't certain about the exact cause of the inflammation of the rib cartilage. Only a few selective cases of this condition are able to present a picture of the causal factors. One cause is associated with an injury caused to the chest area. The condition may also be common with people who follow strenuous exercise schedule. Infections such as those that affect the upper respiratory tract or those that develop on the costosternal joint itself, may also be responsible for the inflammation of the cartilage. The pain that might be felt occurring from the costosternal joint, may actually be one that has occurred somewhere else in the body. Fibromyalgia is a painful condition that may also cause the rib cartilage to get inflamed.
Treatment Plan
Good news is, inflamed cartilage of rib cage does not require any treatment, as it is self-resolving. However, depending on what has caused the condition, the symptoms might stay for several months or even longer. Patients are recommended to use medications that help in reducing and managing the pain. These may include Non-steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), antidepressants, and drugs for relaxing muscles. It may happen that the medications do not respond. So in such a case, the patient might be treated with local anesthetic and steroid injection. This is only when the pain becomes intolerably painful, and is interfering with daily function.
At home, inflamed rib cartilage can be taken care of by getting plenty of rest, and going for light exercises such as waking, or swimming. But if all such activities increase the pain, then better it is not to indulge in such exercises. A heating pad also helps when applied to the aching area. And about how to prevent this condition from occurring, all one needs to take care of, is to avoid factors which seem to cause this problem.