Costochondritis and Tietze's Syndrome - Treatments

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What is the treatment for costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome?

Costochondritis can be aggravated by any activity that involves stressing the structures of the front of the chest cage. It is generally best to minimize these activities until the inflammation of the rib and cartilage areas has subsided.

Rest, anti-inflammatory drugs, physical therapy, and cortisone injections have been used as therapy for the inflamed, painful cartilage of both costochondritis and Tietze's syndrome. Ice packs applied to local swelling can sometimes help to reduce pain and inflammation. Local lidocaine analgesic patch (Lidoderm) application can reduce pain.

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Comment from: 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: June 28

In 1983 I had a spontaneous pneumothorax, which required leaving a chest tube in for 10 days. After release from the hospital, I began to have pain in my chest around the breastbone. My surgeon put me through ultrasound treatments which made the pain worse. He then determined that I had Tietze's syndrome. For the next 4 years, I suffered periodic debilitating attacks. I remember that at times, I just sat in a chair with tears running down my cheeks due to the severity of the pain. The only thing that gave me any relief was steroid injections into the swollen joints around my breastbone. Interestingly, we moved from Denver to Houston, Texas and the frequency of the attacks diminished and eventually stopped altogether. I always thought that the changes in barometric pressure contributed to the attacks. So, the condition may be benign, but the pain was horrible.

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Comment from: Barbara, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 26

I'm a 35 year old woman. I've had Tietze's syndrome for over 11 years, with no improvement. When it first started in 2004 the doctors misdiagnosed with costochondritis, but I've always had a large lumps on top of my left rib cage. It wasn't until 2013 when they finally gave me the actual diagnosis of Tietze's syndrome. I've been getting cortisone injection along with nerve blockers every 3 or 4 months since 2013. Unfortunately the lump and swelling are still progressing. My lump is now as large as my hand and starts just left of my sternum and ends under my left arm pit. Also I now have a new lump on top of the right side of my rib cage. My attacks make it hard to get a full breath. The only way I have been able to stop the attacks, is to find the biggest person I can find and have them push very hard on top of my lump and forcefully hold it until the attack subsides. I am hoping to get a referral to a rheumatologist soon. Naproxen, hydromorphone, and perks don't do much when it feels like I'm having a heart attack.

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