Costochondritis

Updated: Sep 12, 2019
  • Author: Lynn K Flowers, MD, MHA, ABAARM, FACEP; Chief Editor: Barry E Brenner, MD, PhD, FACEP  more...
  • Print
Overview

Practice Essentials

Costochondritis is inflammation of the costal cartilage at the articulation of the ribs and sternum. [1] It is an important consideration in the differential diagnosis of chest pain, as in contrast to myocardial ischemia or infarction, it is a benign disorder. [2] 2 Although the term costochondritis often is used interchangeably with fibrositis and Tietze syndrome, these are distinct diagnoses. Reassurance and pain control are the principal objectives of emergency care; NSAIDs may be useful.  For discussion of costochondritis in children, see Pediatric Costochondritis.

Next:

Background

 CX

Previous
Next:

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.

Previous
Next:

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 symptoms often recur or persist.

Sex

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

Previous