People with fibromyalgia are also susceptible to chest pain, a condition known as Costochondritis. The pain in the chest can range from mild discomfort to unbearable pain that is described as similar to a heart attack.
What is costochondritis?
Costochondritis is essentially an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs with the sternum, also known as costochondral junctions. Depending on the intensity of the inflammation, you may feel mild or extreme chest pain. The pain is often called burning or tingling.
What are the causes of costochondritis?
The exact cause of costochondritis is not known, however, the three most common reasons that lead to costochondritis are:
Viral infections related to the upper respiratory tract
Chest trauma especially due to car accidents
Frequent trauma conditions
What are the symptoms?
Chronic pain in the rib cage and chest wall is the main symptom. The pain can get worse with exercise and active living. In fact, any minor movement that activates inflamed cartilage, such as deep breathing, sneezing, or coughing, can increase pain. The pain can also move to the shoulders and arms, which is very similar during a heart attack. Sometimes swelling and redness are visible in the affected area and this condition is known as Tietze syndrome.
What is the link between fibromyalgia and costochondritis?
It has been observed that people with fibromyalgia are more likely to suffer from symptoms that are very similar to costochondritis. However, it is not clear if costochondritis is a symptom of fibromyalgia or a result of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory disease and, therefore, is unlikely to cause inflammation at the costochondral junctions. However, one theory suggests that sensitive points in fibromyalgia that lie just below the bones of the clavicle may have a role in the costochondritis, but there is no definitive basis.
How to diagnose costochondritis?
Healthcare professionals can easily diagnose costochondritis by pressing on the joints where the sternum connects to the ribs. If you feel pain and tenderness when applying pressure to the above joint, you may have costochondritis. To ensure that chest pain is not caused by heart problems, the doctor will also perform other tests before making a definitive diagnosis.
How is costochondritis treated?
Like any other inflammation, costochondritis is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs such as Motrin and Advil or an ice cream treatment.
Before starting an anti-inflammatory treatment, it is recommended to consult your doctor so that there are no complications. Living with fibromyalgia and costochondritis disorders is difficult because you will be suffering from a combination of pain and inflammation. Seek medical treatment as soon as you notice the symptoms.