Rheumatoid Arthritis, Chest and Rib Pain: What Is Costochondritis?


Costochondritis is caused by inflammation of the cartilage that connects your breastbone, also known as your sternum, to your ribs. The pain associated with this condition can closely mimic a heart attack or other cardiac problems, but research suggests that as many as 50 percent of all chest pains are caused by musculoskeletal disorders. Costochondritis is not life-threatening or even harmful, notes the Cleveland Clinic.

RELATED: What Does Arthritis Pain Feel Like?

Common Causes of Costochondritis

There are rubbery segments of cartilage — called costosternal joints — that attach the ribs to the breastbone, and chest pain can occur when the cartilage in those joints gets inflamed. “Costochondritis is typically a result of some sort of mechanical stress, like you coughed too hard or you reached too far and pulled something,” says Harry L. Gewanter, MD, a pediatric rheumatologist in Richmond, Virginia. For example, chest pain symptoms could occur after you physically strain yourself moving furniture.

Sharp Pain and Pressure: Costochondritis Symptoms Can Be Scary

The hallmark symptom of costochondritis is pain in the chest wall of varying intensity, and it tends to be described as “sharp,” “aching,” or “pressure-like,” according to research published in the journal American Family Physician. The pain can become even worse with upper body movement or with deep breaths, since it involves joints that flex when you inhale. Although the second to fifth costochondral joints of the ribs are most frequently affected — and especially ribs three and four — it can impact any of the seven rib junctions. Pain can take place in multiple sites, but it’s most frequently unilateral, which means it takes place on only one side of the body, often the left, notes the Mayo Clinic. “It can feel like someone stuck a knife in you, and it can take your breath away,” says Dr. Gewanter. But there’s a good chance that the cause behind the pain isn’t serious.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Back to top button