Costochondritis is inflammation of the joints between the costal cartilage and the ribs or the sternum, causing chest pain. Mostly, more than one costal cartilage is affected but a single costochondral or costosternal joint can be affected. The second to fifth costochondral joint is most commonly affected. It is not a fatal disease however it can be long-lasting.
There is no well-known specific cause. It is usually preceded or exacerbated by repetitive trauma to the chest, excessive unaccustomed physical activity and stress, infections of the joints and deficiency of Vitamin D.
Costochondritis has a gradual onset and is characterized by left- or right-sided chest wall pain and tenderness which can be sharp, aching or pressing, may radiate to other parts of the chest, maybe severe and constant or colicky. It may be exacerbated by movements of the chest, deep inspiration or exertion and relieved by soft breathing, reduced chest movements, and change of position.
There are no specific investigations done for confirmation of costochondritis however workup including electrocardiography, bone scan, and chest radiographs can be done to exclude other causes of chest pain especially cardiac diseases.
Due to the non-fatal nature of the disease, anti-inflammatory drugs and analgesics are usually sufficient to alleviate pain.