Can Costochondritis Swelling Extend to the Neck & Back?

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

    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.

Viewer Question

Can the swelling related to costochondritis extend into the neck and back area? I have had these symptoms at least 5 times and have feel that there is a direct connection. Also can lifting and straining worsen costochronditis?

Doctor's Response

Yes and no. Inflammation of costochondritis, which typically is around the breastbone (sternum) in the front of the chest, would not extend to the neck and back. Nevertheless, you are absolutely correct that costochondritis can be related to symptoms involving the neck and back. There are a number of conditions that lead to neck and back pain and stiffness which also can be associated with costochondritis. These include fibromyalgia, ankylosing spondylitis, Reiter's disease, psoriatic arthritis, and injury.

Lifting or straining can certainly aggravate the inflamed areas of costochondritis. Resting and avoiding excessive activities are recommended until the inflammation subsides.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018