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Pediatric Costochondritis Treatment & Management

  • Author: Joseph P Garry, MD, FACSM, FAAFP; Chief Editor: Lawrence K Jung, MD  more...
Updated: Mar 09, 2015

Medical Care

See the list below:

  • Reassure patients diagnosed with costochondritis that the cause of their chest pain is neither cardiac nor malignant in origin.
  • Treatment involves conservative local care with judicious use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or analgesics, as necessary. Cough suppressants may be beneficial if cough is an aggravating factor. Stretching exercises have also been suggested and demonstrated to be of some benefit for the resolution of costochondritis.[21]
  • Liberal use of ice is recommended for 20-minute intervals.
  • Advise relative rest for the patient's upper extremities and avoidance of possible precipitating or exacerbating activities.


Occasional refractory cases may require consultation with the following specialists:

  • Primary care sports medicine physician
  • Rheumatologist

At any time that there is a concern for an alternate or more serious diagnosis, consultation with the appropriate medical specialist would be prudent. Selbst described the conditions for which to refer pediatric and adolescent patients with chest pain according to the following findings or diagnoses:[22]

  • Acute distress
  • Significant trauma
  • History of heart disease or related serious medical problem
  • Chest pain with exercise, syncope, palpitations, dizziness
  • Serious emotional disturbance
  • Esophageal foreign body, caustic ingestion
  • Pneumothorax, pleural effusion


See the list below:

  • Activity restrictions include relative rest. Instruct the patient to avoid activities that exacerbate symptoms. Collision or contact sports may be limited until the patient can perform activity-specific movements without pain.
  • Applying ice after activity usually helps alleviate a significant amount of pain or discomfort.
  • Resumption of aggravating activities prior to resolution may cause relapse.
Contributor Information and Disclosures

Joseph P Garry, MD, FACSM, FAAFP Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School

Joseph P Garry, MD, FACSM, FAAFP is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Family Physicians, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine, Minnesota Medical Association, American College of Sports Medicine

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


Barry L Myones, MD Co-Chair, Task Force on Pediatric Antiphospholipid Syndrome

Barry L Myones, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Association of Immunologists, American College of Rheumatology, American Heart Association, American Society for Microbiology, Clinical Immunology Society, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

David D Sherry, MD Chief, Rheumatology Section, Director, Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Program, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Professor of Pediatrics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

David D Sherry, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Rheumatology, American Pain Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Lawrence K Jung, MD Chief, Division of Pediatric Rheumatology, Children's National Medical Center

Lawrence K Jung, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Immunologists, American College of Rheumatology, Clinical Immunology Society, New York Academy of Sciences

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

James M Oleske, MD, MPH François-Xavier Bagnoud Professor of Pediatrics, Director, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Professor, Department of Quantitative Methods, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

James M Oleske, MD, MPH is a member of the following medical societies: Academy of Medicine of New Jersey, American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, American Association of Public Health Physicians, American College of Preventive Medicine, American Pain Society, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Infectious Diseases Society of New Jersey, Medical Society of New Jersey, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, Arab Board of Family Medicine, American Academy of Pain Management, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Association of Clinical Researchers and Educators, American Academy of HIV Medicine, American Thoracic Society, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, American Society for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases Society of America, Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Sternocostal and interchondral articulations. Anterior view.
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