Costochondritis - a right pain in the sternum

I've had a pain in the sternum (breastbone) several times over the last few months. It appears to be benign - evidenced by the fact that I'm still alive - and I assume it's part of the RA attack on connective tissues. Apparently 30% of people presenting at A&E with chest pain are diagnosed with it and I can see why people panic - it first struck me a two in the morning which is not the time of day you want to be afflicted by a sharp pain in the chest! After a moment or two of rational thought I decided that my breathing was normal and I probably wasn't dying. Also, the pain got worse if I pressed my breastbone - I don't think that happens with heart attacks. My heart rate was higher than normal but a sharp pain in the chest in the early hours of the morning will have that effect. Sometimes it radiates through to my back causing a pain where my wing muscles would be if I had wings. Anyway, today I found out this symptom/condition has a name. It's costochondritis.

16 Replies

  • My friend suffered from it till she got her RA under control.

    I also got it when I had Chemotherapy and radiotherapy for breasts cancer.

    It is I horrible constant radiating pain, that is quite frightening too.

    Good luck

    My pain went when my breast treatment stopped. It went gradually. Strangely enough mine was also worse in the early hours too.

    Carole x

  • It's good to know that it can be controlled. The academic literature on the subject seems to lean towards sulfasalazine as a treatment.

    I'm sorry to hear you've had such a tough time of things and I hope you're now on the mend.

  • Hi GreenFlower - I think you should see your GP about this pain even if you are still alive to tell the tale. RA is a strange disease right enough and I've had several soft tissue issues including Reynauds since mine started - but have not come across this chest one before. And as you haven't yet been diagnosed with RA yet it should be on your records as another indicator to aid diagnoses. Tilda x

  • I already have, Tilda, and he noted it down although he didn't tell me the proper name for it leading me to believe that neither of us is certain how to pronounce it properly!

  • I still can't spell Synovitis according to my spell check so no hope if I have any

    Costochondritis. And now I think about it I have had the symptoms you describe only more mildly. I assumed this was caused by MTX and I too told my GP about them - but he's long since written me off as an RA geek I believe so just shrugs now. I think once we get diagnosed we then find they completely discharge themselves of responsibility or responsiveness to these additional symptoms so I suggest you enjoy lording it over your GP while you can GF!

  • How interesting, I have had two episodes of being rushed into A & E with chest pains and each time I tried to explain that it really is my breast bone that hurts, even now if I press it it will hurt and it has radiated under my ribs round the back on my left hand side, I was driving yesterday for about an hour and a half and struggled to straighten up afterwards. Another long word to add to my vocabulary. (well done spell check) credit where credit due and all that!!!!

    Wings; now that's a thought?

    if I had time i'd write a poem

    Love Carol

  • Perhaps we're trying to morph into butterflies in our sleep.

  • Costochondritis is the bane of my life right now. I always thought it was more common with spondyloarthritis (including Psoriatic arthritis, which is probably what I have) though, and far less common with RA. With spondyloarthritis its caused by enthesitis - the entheses being the bits of connective tissue where tendons join onto bone. Its definitely inflammatory with me though, so worst of it is when inflammation generally is out of control.

  • I have had costochondritis on and off for years, although my RA was only diagnosed 2 years ago. I gave up going to me GP about it as he wasn't concerned. I feel now it may have been a precursor. I also had other joint pain but because of GPs response to the costochondritis I kept it to myself.

  • My doctor wrote it down or, at least, he wrote something down. It could have been "OMG we have a right nutter here."

    Just wait until I tell him about my autophony. "Doctor, I can hear my eyeballs."

  • Hi. I have had this about 4 times prior to being diagnosed with RA one of the last times was when I had a chest infection. The GP put it down to stress the first few times and the last time it was 'because I was coughing' so gave up. Now having RA find out that it could be part of my condition. Big hugs xxxx

  • Hugs back. Glad to have been of help.

  • My costochondritis is bad today, right around my ribs to my sides.

  • Oh sorry to hear that, but its not life threatening as you say, so like all the other aches and pains this is just another one to put up with. But we are here for you and feel your pain, mine has gone from round my side today so I can now move again without saying ouch! It's just the shoulders, elbows, wrists and head oh and the slight feeling that I might be sick or I might not, should I eat or should I not? that is the question. Oh pre RA and MTX days come back, all's forgiven, I promise not to beat myself up again.......

    best advice keep perfectly still and get a servant.

    love Carol

  • It is a very painful thing as it is every-time your diaphragm moves..take care x

  • I used to find that just a sneeze would make it worse.xx

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