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Is Your Chest Pain Costochondritis?

By Kate Gardner

Imagine waking up to sharp pain shooting across the left side of your chest. You're not out of breath, your heart isn't racing, but the pain is enough to make you wonder if you're having a heart attack. You may be suffering from something called costochondritis. 


WebMD tells us that costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that attaches your ribs to your sternum in the middle of your chest. It is a common cause of chest pain and can affect children and adults. The pain from costochondritis can be sharp or dull and radiate to other areas, like the back or abdomen. The pain may be worse when you move or take a breath. 

It is not known exactly why people develop costochondritis but it has been linked to several possible causes including repeated minor injury to the chest wall, repetitive arm movements, and viral infections of the respiratory tract. Rarely, costochondritis can be caused by bacterial or fungal infections. 


There is no specific test for costochondritis. It is usually diagnosed by ruling out other causes for the chest pain. It is important that before a diagnosis of costochondritis is given, you are evaluated for other issues such as heart attack and heart disease. Once your healthcare provider has ruled out these more urgent issues, they may make a diagnosis of costochondritis, particularly if the pain can be recreated by pressing on the area that hurts.


Treatment of costochondritis typically involves managing the pain and inflammation associated with the condition. This includes taking over the counter painkillers, such as ibuprofen, applying heat or ice to the affected area, and avoiding exercise and movements that make the pain worse. 

Chiropractors at The Joint may be able to help relieve the symptoms of costochondritis by adjusting subluxations, or dysfunctions, in the joints that connect the ribs to the spine. These adjustments may improve joint motion, relieve joint discomfort, improve flexibility, or decrease inflammation.  Chiropractic care has the added benefits of being non-invasive and non-addictive. Simply walk into the nearest The Joint Chiropractic clinic for a same-day examination and evaluation. 

If you're having chest pain and feel you may be having a heart attack, it is important to see a healthcare provider. According to WebMD, other symptoms of a heart attack include sweating, nausea, pain that radiates in your chest, back or jaw, and shortness of breath. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, visit your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Azusa, Calif. 

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