costochondritis prescription rx

Costochondritis Treatments

Though costochondritis can be an anxiety-inducing and frustrating condition, there are a variety of treatment options available. Fortunately, many of these treatments are low cost home remedies. Different providers within the specialties that treat costochondritis may have different opinions on the best treatment option for you, but be sure to check with your physician before proceeding with any treatment.

First thing, your physician will want to make sure you’re not having any serious heart or lung related issues. After those have been ruled out, treatment for costochondritis can proceed typically one of two pathways – either masking the symptoms (chest pain) or resolving or reducing the root cause (inflammation). Treatment is usually via self-help (i.e. resting, stretching) medication or physical therapy.

In most cases, costochondritis will go away on its own within several days or weeks with conservative treatment. While Tietze’s syndrome is more rare than costochondritis, the conditions are very similar, and most of the information below also applies.

Disclaimer: Information on this website is meant to be used for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. This information should not be used to treat or diagnose any condition. Please consult your physician before beginning any treatment.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do at home to ease the symptoms of costochondritis:

Home Remedies

  • Resting at home – avoid any activity that stresses your chest area causing pain such as strenuous activity, working out your chest muscles, or physical labor.
  • Using a massage device like the BackPod
  • Apply heat to the area using a heating pad
    • Caution: do not lay on a heating pad, you can trap the heat between the pad and your body and burn yourself
  • Apply cold to the area using ice packs
    • Though heat seems to be recommended more often, try both hot and cold to see which works best for you
  • Gently stretching the pectoral muscles to relieve tension and increase blood flow
  • Hot showers and baths may help relieve the pain
  • Following an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
  • Stress reduction techniques such as meditation and deep breathing
  • Over-the-counter topical, analgesic pain relief rubs, creams, or gels such as Tiger Balm, Penetrex, Icy Hot, Biofreeze, Sombra, or Voltaren that contain camphor or menthol
  • Lidocaine patches

It’s highly recommended to speak with your doctor before starting any treatment for costochondritis.

Your physician may prescribe one of a number of options:

Over-the-counter Medication

NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) are commonly prescribed for costochondritis. These drugs reduce pain by blocking enzymes that make chemicals that signal pain to your body.

  • Naproxen is often prescribed over Ibuprofen for costochondritis because it is longer lasting (though it is also more likely to cause an upset stomach)
  • Acetominophen (e.g. Tylenol) / Paracetamol may also be prescribed.
  • Your physician might also prescribe lidocaine patches or a topical gel such as Icy Hot or Biofreeze.

These drugs are available from your local drug store or online, without a prescription. If your costochondritis does not respond to over the counter painkillers, your doctor may prescribe medication from the pharmacy.

Prescription Medication

For high levels of pain, narcotic painkillers (opioids) may be prescribed by your physician such as:

  • Hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin, Lortab, Norco)
  • Oxycodone (e.g. Percocet)

To note, opioid-based medications are habit-forming and have a high potential for abuse. Talk to your physician to find out what you can do to keep yourself and your family safe. Several other medications for chronic pain have also proven effective for treating costochondritis:

  • Amitriptyline (a tricyclic antridepressant) – may be especially effective is costochondritis pain is causing sleep problems for you.
  • Gabapentin (also known as Neurontin, an anti-epileptic / anticonvulsant drug) – can help relieve nerve pain, often used to treat chronic pain
  • Prednisone – oral steroids are often prescribed for costochondritis to reduce inflammation
  • Antibiotics (IV or oral) may be prescribed if your costochondritis is the result of a bacterial or fungal infection
  • Muscle relaxers such as Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) may be prescribed

Physical Therapy

Your physician may also prescribe a physical therapy approach to treat costochondritis:

  • Costochondritis stretches – at least one clinical study has shown that many patients have seen improvement from gentle, stretching exercises that target the chest, back, sternum, and arms. You can read more about stretches for costochondritis here.
  • Massage therapy – while it is not recommended to massage the chest area during the initial, painful phases of costochondritis, massage therapy on the muscles assisting in respiration as well as the neck, back, and abdomen can assist in recovery.
  • TENS therapy (nerve stimulation) – this method of therapy provides pain relief by applying an electrical current to the chest area. The electrical current can reduce the pain signals your body is sending to the brain.

Surgery (and other procedures)

If your costochondritis does not respond to conservative treatments, your physician may recommend an alternative treatment such as:

  • Corticosteroid injections – these steroids can be injected into the costochondral joint to help reduce pain and inflammation. You may need to continue having these shots a few times per year.
  • Cartilage surgery – removing the inflamed cartilage via surgery may be a last resort option for severe pain

Mental and Emotional Health

Costochondritis can take a heavy toll on your mind. As with any condition that causes chronic pain, it is important to take care of your mental health. Chronic pain can have a variety of impacts on mental health including irritability, forgetfulness, depression, and more. You can read more about strategies for managing your emotional and mental health with costochondritis here.

As you can see, while there is no known, definitive “cure” for costochondritis there are many different ways to treat the condition nonetheless. As costochondritis has many different causes, there are also many potential treatments and patients have reported a wide variety of solutions that have helped them treat their symptoms.

Please be sure to consult your physician or healthcare provider before beginning any treatment, performing any exercise, or taking any new supplement or medication. Discuss with your provider if you have any questions or concerns.

Feel free to comment below – what treatments have you found effective for your costochondritis?

16 thoughts on “Costochondritis Treatments”

  1. Ive been experiencing chest pressure and slight chest pain for months now. At its worst, I’ve also experienced dizziness, anxiety, lack of feeling in my chest and pain. I’ve noticed that nothing triggers my pressure/pain more than alcohol. Is this normal? Is it an allergy? I’m lost

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  2. I’ve experienced coscontritis for years and it’s no fun. Ibuprofen worked well but took so much it was ruining my kidneys. Tramadol helps but has it’s side effects . Could use hydrocodone occasionally but our government has decided we don’t need it. It’s definitely a problem that needs study .Anyone finding positive relief ,please post. Ten unit works pretty well .

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    • if you feel along your sternum for inflamed tissue, also along the cartilage between your ribs for inflamed spots, typically you can feel the swollen area that is affect feom costochondritis.

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    • Have you got over your costochondritis yet?
      I have had it since the end of March 2021.
      Some times I think I am improving then the next day I feel like I am back to square one. (As bad as ever)
      Sometimes somewhat dizzy with a tough time to get a full breath of air.
      So frustrating dealing with this for so long and no idea when or if the pain will end.

      Reply
  3. I am 48 tomorrow, at the age of 46 I was finally diagnosed with vascular EDS. I was diagnosed with von Willebrand’s diseasr and it was assumed to be the cause of my symptoms. When the infusions quit working for the bleeds, more investigation was done and vEDS was found. I had been complaining of joint problems and pain since my early childhood. when the specialist at Mayo looked at me, he immediately saw my lack of cartilage. I have dealt with Tietzes Syndrome since I was 22 yrs old.

    The self care answers are absurd for anyone in the working world. “Hey, you felt like you were having a heart attack last night. No worries, Management won’t mind if you stay home, AGAIN. Turn on the heating pad, pop some pills and stay home. Oh wait, you can’t take blood thinners because of your bleeding issues. Sucks to be you.”

    With vEDS, I never looked sick, always look abt 15 years younger than I am. Never needed makeup except for my blonde eyelashes. I had. Highly regarded specialist sau there was nothing wrong with me, i just needed to feel more comfortable in my skin. REALLY?

    There is so much to EDS, you can’t act like it is a stressed knee or ankle and use the RICE method.

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  4. What dr are you seeing for the Costochondritis? Cardiology? Pain specialist? My husband has had for almost 3 months. Trying lidocaine patches today and he started PT. Thanks.

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  5. I HAVE JUST STARTED COLD LASER THERAPY, PHYSICAL THERAPY AND BEE VENOM INJECTIONS.. COLD LASER AND BEE VENOM WILL HELP GET INFLAMMATION DOWN. I HAVE ALSO READ ABOUT OZONE INJECTIONS.

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  6. I am 22, and have suffered with symptoms of costochondritis since I was 7 years old. I also have extremely weak joints that I’ve been in therapy for since birth. On top of that, also dealing with reoccurring gastritis that doctors claim is due to chronic stress. I was on ibuprofen for a while, but it became ineffective. Now I have been on celebrex for 2 years and it is damaging my liver and my body has also grown a tolerance to that too… I had a negative ANA test. Would it be worth looking into the possibility of having EDS?

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  7. Try vitamin D. I was in the same position after a number of years. Then after vitamin D it grew weaker then BINGO. Good luck I hope that it works for you! KF

    Reply

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