What is Costochondritis? Link Between Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis
BY JULIA NELSON
Today, tens of millions of people across the globe suffer from fibromyalgia. Many of these people develop fibromyalgia in the middle of their lives, but many more develop it as a teenager or as a young adult. Most of the people who do suffer from fibromyalgia are women.
Anyone who suffers from fibromyalgia knows of the various different types of symptoms and pain there are associated with it. They also know what a large part of the pain associated with fibromyalgia occurs in the chest.
There are various pressure points throughout the body, eighteen to be specific. When pressure is applied to these points (after all, they are called pressure points) it causes immense pain in that area.
Typically, if a person feels pain that shoots through their body from eleven of these eighteen pressure points, they can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia by their doctor (although doctors will also look at various other aspects of the symptoms to make the final diagnosis).
Two of these pressure points are located on the chest area. This is why chest pain and fibromyalgia are related. Most of the pain in the chest in people with fibromyalgia occurs around the breast bones and the ribcage. Having this type of pain is called costochondritis, and it is widely associated with fibromyalgia.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also have costochondritis, but what they don’t know is that fibromyalgia and costochondritis require separate treatment. In addition, some of the reasons behind the pain in costochondritis may or may not be the same source of the pain behind fibromyalgia.
If fibromyalgia goes untreated, it is only bound to get worse, unfortunately. But it’s also very important that you treat your costochondritis as well.Is All Chest Pain Costochondritis?
No, it is definitely not. Many people who have costochondritis actually think that the pain is occurring because of cardiac issues. For some people, the pain from costochondritis is so intense that they think they may be suffering from a heart attack. However, you should still never assume that any chest pain you have is costochondritis, but regardless of what type or level of pain you are feeling in your chest, you will still want to get it checked out to begin the treatment process.
What exactly is Costochondritis?
Costochondritis is defined as the inflammation that builds up in the cartilage in your ribs and breast bones. Some people with costochondritis feel the same level of pain as having a heart attack, while others feel no more pain than if it were a simple nuisance.
What are the Causes of Costochondritis?
Just as with fibromyalgia, the real causes behind costochondritis aren’t exactly known yet. Hopefully with new scientific and medical technological advancements and study, we’ll be able to find the answer soon enough. For right now, doctors and medical professionals believe that costochondritis could be due to trauma in the chest area or a viral infection of some sort, especially in the respiratory area.
Another theory is that fibromyalgia can cause costochondritis, and indeed, patients with both fibromyalgia and costochondritis feel much more pain in their chest area than people with just costochondritis. But then again, there are a minority of people who have costochondritis but also don’t have fibromyalgia, so fibromyalgia most likely is not the root cause.
What is the Relation Between Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis
We don’t yet have official numbers, but doctors and medical professionals seem to come to the same consensus that more than three out of every five fibromyalgia patients also either have costochondritis or symptoms that have a marked resemblance to the symptoms of costochondritis. At the same time, fibromyalgia doesn’t caused inflammation, which is what costochondritis is.
However, the pressure points of fibromyalgia and the inflammation may play a related role together, which could also perhaps explain why costochondritis patients who also have fibromyalgia have greater chest pain than those who don’t. Another interesting relation between fibromyalgia and costochondritis is that costochondritis can heal up within days.
If you have the symptoms of costochondritis but they don’t heal up in at least a week or two, there is a chance that you might have fibromyalgia. Now this leads us to the next question, what are some of the common symptoms of costochondritis?
Common Symptoms of Costochondritis
The most common symptom of costochondritis is feeling pain in the chest wall and/or in the ribcage. This pain will feel much worse the more you move around, as the inflammation in the cartilage will only get worse. Other common symptoms include pain in the nerves of your chest and a swelling of the painful areas.
How can Costochondritis be officially diagnosed?
Costochondritis is usually officially diagnosed when pressure is applied to the painful places in your ribs and breast bones, and if the pain gets much worse there, then it is very likely that costochondritis is the reason behind the pain. Doctors and medical professionals also have an array of other tests that they can conduct, since cardiac or heart problems could also be a reason behind the pain.
Is the Treatment for Costochondritis and Fibromyalgia the Same?
Treating costochondritis is largely the same way that you’d treat other forms of inflammation, but the way that you treat inflammation is largely different from fibromyalgia treatment. Treating inflammation means applying ice to the painful area and taking approved drugs to treat the problem.
Fibromyalgia requires different types of pain relievers and various other treatments. Patients who are diagnosed with costochondritis and fibromyalgia will have to use both treatments at the same time.
Granted, it is very painful to live with both types of pain, and your life can be greatly impacted by having just one of the conditions, not to mention both. But the good news for you is that costochondritis is much easier to treat and manage than fibromyalgia.