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Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage which is connecting the upper ribs to the breast bone (sternum). This area is known as the costosternal junction. Pain caused by costochondritis may look like a heart attack or other conditions associated with the heart. Costochondritis causes chest pain which ranges from mild to severe. Mild costochondritis will cause your chest to feel tender to touch, while severe cases cause unbearable chest pain which interferes with everyday life. 


  • A sharp pain in the chest area.
  • Affects more than one rib.
  • Pain on the left side of the breastbone.
  • Pain gets worse on deep breathing or coughing.
  • The back or abdomen may have pain radiated from it.


  • Direct injury to chest such as a blow, fall or car accident.
  • Physical strain from activities such as heavy lifting, strenuous exercise or severe coughing. 
  • Certain types of arthritis such as osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis.
  • Tumours in the costosternal joint. Non Cancerous and cancerous tumours can cause costochondritis. Cancer might travel to the joint from another part of the body, such as the breast, thyroid or lung.
  • Certain types of respiratory conditions can cause joint inflammation such as tuberculosis, syphilis and aspergillosis.

Risk factors:

  • Repetitive activities involving the upper body.
  • Conditions that cause repetitive coughing.
  • Common cause of chest pain in children and teenagers.
  • Children who often carry heavy bags over one shoulder
  • Women over the age of 40
  • Arthritis
  • Manual labour
  • High Impact activities
  • People with allergies and frequently exposed to irritants

How can Chiropractic help Costochondritis?

When you breathe your ribs are moving to allow the diaphragm to expand and contract and this is how your rib cage moves. Ribs connect at the front at your sternum and join to different vertebra at the back. Your ribs can move and can be in the incorrect position. If ribs are not in their correct position, Chiropractors can adjust them to get them back to the correct positions. Chiropractors can also help with adjusting the sternum. In costochondritis, the aim for Chiropractors is to get the ribs moving correctly to help with breathing. 

With chiropractic adjustments we help by decreasing the inflammation and irritation of the costochondral and vertebral joints through gentle and specific chiropractic adjustments. This allows the nerve system to send signals to allow the body to heal and repair itself. 

What can you do to help Costochondritis?

  • Rest- do not do any activities that aggravate and make the pain worse.
  • Heat or ice- apply to the affected area.
  • Stretching- It would be helpful to stretch the muscles of the chest.