Causes of Costochondritis and Can it be Treated Naturally?

Often many people interpret chest pain caused due to costochondritis as pain originating from the heart.  They may get annoyed by the condition and consult their doctor. In a way it is good, because getting examined by a physician will confirm that it is not related to heart, a more serious illness.

Costochondritis is a condition related to the ribs and cartilage that joins the ribs to the breast bone. When this cartilage is inflamed it causes excruciating pain in the middle of the chest. Often it mimics a heart attack or pain arising from lungs. In costochondritis, you can provoke pain by pressing the ribs and sternum. The area around the costosternal joint is tender to touch. Except for Pain and discomfort, costochondritis is relatively a harmless condition. Usually a person finds relief from pain within few days even without treatment.  Though the exact cause for costochondritis is not certain, many predisposing factors can initiate inflammation of cartilage joining the ribs and sternum (breast bone).

Common Causes of Costochondritis

In most cases the reason is not known, however in certain cases costochondritis has specific cause, such as:

  • An injury on the chest wall, a blow on the sternum or on the chest can lead to costochondritis.
  • Lifting heavy weight or pushing a heavy object can give rise to costochondritis symptoms.
  • Severe and persistent cough as seen in chronic bronchitis or any other lung disease can cause strain on the chest muscles, resulting into costochndritis.
  • Person suffering from allergic rhinitis that causes exploding sneezing can result into pain in the middle of chest, a sign of costochondritis.
  • Fibromyalgia: it is one of the causes for pain and tenderness felt in the sternum area.
  • When there are repeated episodes of costochondritis pain, check your vitamin D level. Many time people having vitamin D deficiency may complain of pain in the costosternal area.
  • Certain health conditions such as arthritis, cervical spondylitis can give rise to tenderness and pain on the breast bone.

Can Costochondritis be Treated Naturally?

Though costochondritis pain is terrifying, the condition is harmless and the pain usually disappears on its own. However, you can minimize the pain and discomfort following natural ways, either to prevent it from happening in first place, or to treat the condition.

Preventive Measures:

  • In most school going children the cause for chest pain is costochondritis. This is because of the weight of the school bag they carry on their back or on the shoulders. Teach them to carry their school bags in correct manner. Use both straps of the backpack while carrying it on the back. Avoid carrying the school bag on one shoulder.
  • Do not lift weight more than you can in other words do not overstrain physically while lifting or while playing sports.
  • Wash your hands, do not stay in close contact with people suffering from cold and cough, and do not share same utensils or drinking glasses.

Alternate Treatment Method for Costochondritis

There are two important aspects for treating costochondritis; to treat the inflammation and to treat pain resulting from inflammation.

Besides rest, hot water fomentation or compresses helps to relieve the pain. Certain foods are known to reduce inflammation naturally; they are omega 3 fatty acid. Flax seeds, fish, hemp contain good amount of omega 3.

Homeopathic medicine Arnica is known to be an effective cure in treating costochondritis caused due to injury or a blunt blow on the chest wall.

Herbs have ability to reduce inflammation.  Fennel, ginger, turmeric, chamomile can reduce the inflammation of the costosternal joint.

Acupuncture is a well known Chinese technique used to alleviate pain, especially bone and joint pains. Acupuncture is very useful in repeated episodes of costochondritis.

One thought on “Causes of Costochondritis and Can it be Treated Naturally?

  • July 29, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    I am a 38 year old man. I have been experiencing pain on the left side of my ribs for the last 2 years. I have done echocardiogram and stress test twice but doctors told me that it is not a cardiac problem. I exercise regularly for 45 minutes and walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes approximately 1.5 km. I have been doing this for the last 12 years now. Doctor advised me to massage with gel cream and hot water fomentation for the pain as it is moving from back to ribs. What could the problem be?


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