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Costochondritis

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage. Most individuals who develop this condition are unaware of the inflammatory process due to non-specific symptomology. Costal cartilage is the connective tissue component that connect the ribs to the chest bone or sternum. In most uncomplicated cases of costochondritis, the condition resolves spontaneously with conservative care.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is a musculoskeletal condition that is characterized by ongoing inflammation and swelling of the costal cartilage. The condition usually affects the cartilage where the upper ribs attach to the breastbone, or sternum, an area known as the costosternal joint or costosternal junction.

Costochondritis

Signs and Symptoms of Costochondritis?

Most cases of costochondritis presents with symptoms like; pain or tenderness of rib joints, chest pain (initially mild but aggravates with heavy exercise or activity) and shortness of breath.

Causes of Costochondritis

The exact cause or pathophysiology of this condition is not yet known, but there are several aggravating factors that may increase the risk of developing costochondritis; such as:

  • Viral respiratory tract infections
  • Post- surgical bacterial infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Psoriatic arthritis

Statistics and Epidemiology related to Costochondritis

The exact prevalence of costochondritis in Australia is not known, but it is estimated that 30% of all the emergency hospital visits with the complaint of chest pain are due to costochondritis (1).

Reference:
  1. Disla E, Rhim HR, Reddy A, Karten I, Taranta A. Costochondritis. A prospective analysis in an emergency department setting. Arch Intern Med. Nov 14 1994;154(21):2466-9.

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