Costochondritis and Tietze's Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

    John P. Cunha, DO, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Cunha's educational background includes a BS in Biology from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and a DO from the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, MO. He completed residency training in Emergency Medicine at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Costochondritis Symptom

The main symptom of costochondritis is chest wall pain that varies in intensity. The pain may be perceived as

  • pressure,
  • sharp, or
  • aching pain.

Movement, exertion, and breathing deeply tend to aggravate symptoms as the cartilage between the ribs and sternum flex.

Costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome facts

  • Costochondritis is inflammation of the costochondral junctions, where ribs attach to the breast bone.
  • Genetics, viruses, and injury may play roles in causing costochondritis.
  • Costochondritis can be a medical condition by itself or be a feature of a more widespread disorder.
  • Costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome are diagnosed based on the patient's history of signs and symptoms, such as chest pain localized to the cartilage adjacent to the breastbone, as well as tenderness.

What is costochondritis?

Costochondritis is a common form of inflammation of the cartilage where ribs attach to the breastbone (the sternum). The inflammation can involve multiple cartilage areas on both sides of the sternum but usually is on one side only.

What is Tietze's syndrome?

Tietze's syndrome is an inflammation of the costochondral cartilages of the upper front of the chest that involves swelling of the joint. Costochondritis is distinguished from Tietze's syndrome, a condition also involving pain in the same area of the front of the chest, by the presence of swelling. Costochondritis is not associated with swelling, as opposed to Tietze's syndrome, where swelling is characteristic.

What causes costochondritis?

The causes of costochondritis are not known and may involve several factors. Possible causes include heredity (genetic predisposition), viruses, and trauma (injury).

Costochondritis can be an independent health condition by itself or sometimes can be a feature of a more widespread disorder. Examples of health conditions that can feature costochondritis include fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease).

What are risk factors for costochondritis?

Risk factors for costochondritis include injury to the chest, virus infection, and rheumatic diseases.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/7/2016

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