Costochondritis is inflammation in the cartilage that connects a rib to the sternum. This inflammation causes localized sharp pain or discomfort in the joint of the rib and sternum, which can be aggravated when the individual takes deep breaths, coughs, sneezes or makes other movements that moves the ribs and pulls on the cartilage between the ribs and the breastbone. Lifestyle activities and infections are both factors that are linked to costochondritis.
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According to MayoClinic.com, costochondritis has been linked to heavy lifting and strenuous exercise. In some cases, people that suffer from costochondritis have described doing some sort of laborious or strenuous activity, such as lifting furniture, prior to experiencing symptoms. Improper form or technique in weight lifting, lifting heavier weight than you should or a traumatic blow to the chest during an athletic event can all factor into costochondritis. If you have chest pain that seems to result from physical exertion, ease up on your exercise programs and speak with your doctor about safe guidelines for your exercise program or weight lifting.
The exact cause of costochondritis is not clear. Aside from exercise-related incidents, viral or bacterial infections, fibromyalgia, upper respiratory illness or trauma around the chest area are all possible factors that can influence or cause costochondritis.
If you participate in regular strenuous exercise or activity, such as heavy weight lifting, allow your body time to rest and heal for several days. Exercises causes an increase in breathing depth and rate, requiring increased movement of the ribs, so avoid intense cardio exercise. Do light stretching of the upper limbs and back, but not to the point of pain. Gentle exercise, like swimming or walking, can improve your mood and keep your body healthy, states MayoClinic.com. Light stretches of the pectoral muscles two to three times daily may also help your condition. Once the pain has gone, ease back into your normal activities and exercise programs.
According to Medline Plus, costochondritis pain usually goes away in a few days or weeks. To lessen your discomfort, take pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you have constant sharp pain or discomfort in your chest, visit your doctor and get an accurate diagnosis before treating your condition. Use a heating pad on the lowest setting several times a day.