Costochondritis is a chest pain not a heart problem

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Sep 06, 2017
Quick Bites

  • Costochondritis is a typical chest pain often confused with the heart pain.
  • Taking anti-inflammatory medicines and pain killers give the relief.
  • The pain is usually dull, but often sharp and radiate to arms.


Costochondritis is a typical chest pain often confused with the heart pain.  It is actually an inflammation of joints where the upper ribs join the cartilage. The pain mostly occurs on the left side of the chest where the heart is located. Hence, at the first instance, it seems to be a pain radiating from the heart.  But, it’s a localized pain, likely to happen for increased use of arms and other infections. Usually goes away without any treatment.



The definite cause for costochondritis is not known yet. But, studies suggest that respiratory viral infections, the frequent trauma of chest walls and often increased use of arms lead to it. Of course, a bacterial infection also results the same.  It is mostly found among those who had surgery in the chest. Sometimes, fungal infection also leads to this.



  • The pain is usually dull, but often sharp and radiate from chest to arms, abdomen, and back. 
  • As you breathe deep the pain may increase.
  • When pressed on the upper chest the presence of pain can be felt.
  • Apart from these, trouble in breathing, nausea, sweating and continued worsening even after taking the medicines are some other common symptoms.



There is no specific diagnosis to identify the disease but medical history and reproducible pain in the chest area are often taken into account. It is important to rule out any heart disease for any kind of chest pain with the due diagnosis.  Reproducible tenderness can be observed over the fourth, fifth and sixth ribs. Usual blood tests and X-rays are of no help in diagnosing the costochondritis.


  • Taking anti-inflammatory medicines and pain killers give the relief
  • Using the heat and ice technique over the pain area also relieves the most of the symptoms.
  • Avoiding exercises where arms are used extensively like Pilates and Yoga.
  • Doing mild stretching exercises will reduce the pain too.
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