Costochondritis

Updated: Jul 28, 2016
  • Author: Lynn K Flowers, MD, MHA, ABAARM, FACEP; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
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Overview

Background

In contrast to myocardial ischemia or infarction, costochondritis is a benign cause of chest pain and is an important consideration in the differential diagnosis. [1, 2] Although the term costochondritis often is used interchangeably with fibrositis and Tietze syndrome, these are distinct diagnoses. For discussion of costochondritis in children, see Pediatric Costochondritis.

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Pathophysiology

Costochondritis is an inflammatory process of the costochondral or costosternal joints that causes localized pain and tenderness. Any of the 7 costochondral junctions may be affected, and more than 1 site is affected in 90% of cases. The second to fifth costochondral junctions most commonly are involved.

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Epidemiology

Frequency

United States

The exact prevalence of a musculoskeletal etiology for chest pain is not known, although overall prevalence of a musculoskeletal etiology for chest pain was approximately 10% in one study. In a 1994 emergency department study, 30% of patients with chest pain had costochondritis. [3]

Mortality/Morbidity

The condition's course generally is self-limited, but the patient often experiences recurrent or persistent symptoms.

Sex

In Disla's costochondritis study, women comprised 69% of patients with costochondritis versus 31% in the control group. [3]

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