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Costochondritis Treatment Options to Consider

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  • There are ways to help manage costochondritis symptoms, especially the pain, to make the condition more bearable
  • Treating costochondritis pain may be as simple as making changes to your lifestyle habits. Here are a few basic ways to promote healing

The good news is that most cases of costochondritis usually resolve on their own after a few weeks.1 However, there are ways to help manage the symptoms, especially the pain, to make the condition more bearable.

Your Physician May Prescribe Medications, but Be Wary of Their Side Effects

Some of the conventional drugs that physicians recommend to provide relief for costochondritis include:2

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) These include ibuprofen or naproxen sodium, or other stronger varieties.
  • Antidepressants — One example is the tricyclic antidepressant amitriptyline, which is often used for controlling chronic pain, especially if it’s causing you to lose sleep.
  • Narcotics — Codeine medications like hydrocodone/acetaminophen or oxycodone/acetaminophen may be prescribed for severe pain.
  • Antiseizure drugs — An example is gabapentin, which can be used to control chronic pain.

However, take note that these medications come with certain side effects. For example, NSAIDs are known to damage your kidneys and stomach lining, while narcotics are highly habit-forming. Meanwhile, antidepressants have been linked to an increased risk of developing mania and bipolar disorder.3 Hence, you should first opt for safer treatment options for costochondritis.

How to Treat Costochondritis Naturally

Treating costochondritis pain may be as simple as making changes to your lifestyle habits. Here are a few basic ways to promote healing:

  • Get enough rest — Allowing your body to heal is essential for relieving costochondritis. Find a position that makes you feel comfortable and doesn’t worsen your condition. Relax and do calm, quiet breathing — do not pant, as it can exacerbate your pain.
  • Avoid activities that require sharp, sudden movements or exert high stress on your chest — You may need to lay off sports like baseball, basketball, tennis, golf or karate until your condition improves and the pain completely disappears.4
  • Use heat or cold therapy — Apply a hot compress or a heating pad on the painful area several times a day. Make sure the heat is on a low setting. You can also use ice therapy for this type of pain.5
  • Try herbal remedies — There are certain herbs that have both analgesic (pain-relieving) and anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful for costochondritis. Examples include arnica,6 ginger7 and boswellia,8 among others.

There Are Also Stretching Exercises for Costochondritis

While costochondritis may be triggered by strenuous physical activities, take note that certain exercises, particularly stretching, may have a relieving effect on this condition. One study found that patients who were being treated with NSAIDs, anesthetic injections or steroids did not find any relief until stretching exercises were added to their treatment protocol.9 The stretches for costochondritis are simple. According to OnHealth:10

“The stretches involve holding a raised, bent arm with the forearm parallel to the wall and gently twisting the body in the opposite direction to open the chest and relieve tension on chest muscles. The exercises are repeated on both sides, several times a day to decrease pain.”

Can Surgery Cure Costochondritis?

If you’ve tried all of these options and still experience no relief from costochondritis, then you may need to consult your physician to check if more drastic methods may be necessary. Surgical removal of the sore cartilage is one example. However, take note that this is an invasive procedure and comes with its own risks, so talk to your physician to ensure that you’re getting the full picture.11


Costochondritis: Introduction

What Is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis Symptoms

Costochondritis Causes

Costochondritis Treatment

Costochondritis Prevention

Costochondritis Diet

Costochondritis FAQ

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