There is a symptom of Fibromyalgia (FM) that is rarely talked about, yet is very prevalent among sufferers and quite scary at the first onset. It is called Costochondritis.
It is a chest pain that can be sharp and jabbing. It can easily be mistaken for heart problems including heart attack and stroke. Actually it is the cartilage between the ribs and the chest bone becoming inflamed and sore. You will probably find it hard to move your upper body without the sharp pain in your chest. It takes you off guard. Costochondritis affects about 70% of FM sufferers. The pain can last for days or even months, and can reappear at anytime.
Symptoms of Costochondritis
- sharp, stabbing pain in the front of the chest
- ribs that are sore to the touch
- pain on the left or right side of the chest
- upper chest pains
- burning pain in the ribs
- pain that radiates up the back of the neck and shoulders
- pain in your chest when you sneeze or cough
- pain that increases with activity, exertion, or deep breathing
- pain that decreases with rest, movement, or slow breathing
Where does Costochondritis Hit?
Costochondritis affects the junction between the ribs and the chest bone, also called the sternum. 7 bits of cartilage attach your ribs to your sternum, and costochondritis causes this cartilage to become inflamed and sore. If you have costochondritis, you will be able to feel pain upon movement of your upper torso or when you touch your ribs. Most commonly, pain is felt on the left side of your chest, though chest pains on the right side, or even on both sides, can occur. Any one of the 7 cartilage junction points can be affected by costochondritis. 90% of people with costochondritis suffer from more than just 1 inflamed cartilage junction point. In severe costochondritis, all 7 cartilage junction points can be inflamed. This inflammation causes pain on the anterior (front) chest wall, which can be felt when you move and when you palpate your ribs. Typically, the second to fifth ribs are affected, though it is also common for the sixth rib to be affected.
What Does Costochondritis Pain Feel Like? Costochondritis pain is often described as a stabbing or aching pain in the ribs. This pain can wax and wane: some days it will be worse, while other days it will be much better. The sharp pain caused by costochondritis generally begins in the chest. This pain can then radiate outwards, attacking the shoulders, neck, and upper abdomen. Costochondritis pain can last for long periods of time and chronic costochondritis is not uncommon. However, most pain should be gone within 6 months to a year from the onset of symptoms.
In contrast to myocardial ischemia or infarction, costochondritis is a benign cause of chest pain and is an important consideration in the differential diagnosis.
If you would like to know more about Costochondritis, here are some links: