Costochondritis is an inflammation of the joints formed by the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone (sternum). The inflammation may be caused by an injury to the chest, but often the reason for the inflammation is not known.

Common symptoms of costochondritis may include:

  • Sudden, severe pain and soreness in the chest, usually around the breastbone.
  • Pain that increases when pressure is applied to a specific area of the breastbone where the cartilage connects the ribs.
  • Pain that increases with coughing, sneezing, or deep breathing, all of which move the cartilage or the ribs.

The discomfort of costochondritis may last for days or weeks. Treatment includes rest, warm compresses, and the use of anti-inflammatory medicines (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen).

Current as of: November 14, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD