Intense Rib & Sternum Pain/Tenderness (costochondritis)...How do you deal?

To My Fellow Costochondritis Friends;

I live with episodes of intense, acutely severe rib and sternum pain and tenderness, also known as costochondritis (not really a diagnosis as much as its a medical term for the symptom). It gets so bad that sometimes I can't bear to even sit up or stand up straight. If I try to straighten up my chest, my ribs hurt to the point of being unable to breathe, so I wind up looking hunched-over, constantly holding my ribs. Although the tenderness is almost overwhelming, it seems to help when I "support" my ribs my wrapping my arms around myself. Doing so when my ribs hurt so badly helps me breathe better. The only other thing that helps ever so marginally is high moist heat. (very, very hot). I can't bear to wear a bra during these times. My question is to those of you that also deal with costo- how do you deal?? Is there anything else you do that seems to help you? I'd love to give anything a try, right now my ribs are so intensely achy and tender, and I can tell it's going to get much worse before it finally subsides (I get these "episodes" often). I can't take NSAIDS, so that option isn't available, and I'm intensely senstive to cold. I'm quite interested in knowing what others experience in regards to their rib/sternum pain - how does it feel to you, and how does it affect you? Is it like a crushing, intense pain that comes on acutely? Is the tenderness overwhelming? Do you experience any other symptoms with it? I don't know much about my costo, other than boy, does it hurt... I also don't know anyone who deals with this, and would really like another's point of view on this issue...
Thanks in advance for your story, I'd love to hear it!!!
Sincerely,
Chandra

Edited October 14, 2008 at 1:41 pm

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If you still have the costo so do I. had it for the last 8 months or so. and from what i'm understanding cartilage has a very limited blood supply so healing is stretched over a long period of time. prolotherapy is an option but havent tried it, or human growth, but i doubt thats advisable to a woman. good luck

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Hi,

Yup, I still get my intense episodes. You've had it for the last eight months?? Oi, I feel sorry for that!! I couldn't imagine having to deal with it for that long - I think I'd lose my mind, seriously! I haven't ever heard about the cartilage having a limited blood supply - my dr's pretty much say "oh that sucks" but that's about all they've told me about it. I'd be nervous about prolo or HGH, but I don't know much about them, other than prolo can really help (I've heard, anyway). Good luck to you, too! How do you deal? How do you cope with the intense pain?? If you have any tips or advice, I'd love to hear it! And I hope your costo lets up soon!!
~Chandra

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I have been living with costo for 3 years. I was finally diagnosed after 2 trips to the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack. The cardiologist told me to take a healthy dose of Motrin(I take 600 mg) at regular intervals for a week and that kicked it the first time. But it always visits me if I am stressed. If I feel it starting, I put a cold pak on right away and start taking Motrin. Motrin is the only thing that works for me--Tylenol and Aleve do nothing. I have taken olive leaf extract and Noni, both herbal supplements and go back to those if I have a flare-up. I also take Zyflamend, an herbal blend every day--it's been great at keeping the flare-ups to a minimum. The best relief I have found is acupuncture, which I started doing about a year ago. A once a month visit usually does it for me, but I go any time I have a flare-up. My acupunturist also recommended EC Matrixx. The resultsof acupunture are amazing for costo and many other pains and I generally now live without my costo friend.

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Hi, I'm not sure about the specific term "costochondritis" but I qualify for having had sternum pain and perhaps some tenderness/pain in some of the muscles in the ribs in that area. For me its pretty clear that years of computer work have done me in. On and off over the years I have had wrist, shoulder, and neck strains. I've been really focusing on reversing things this last year--having taken up yoga, having bought the book ("Conquering Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Other Repetitive Strain Injuries") and having tried a variety of types of bodywork. As a result, I have had very little sternum pain in recent months. For bodywork I've found helpful acupuncture, Feldenkrais, and trigger point massage. Although I'm moving in a positive direction I still have tension in my chest/stomach muscles. I can tell this from trying to do back bends on an exercise ball. The front of my body I guess just got so shortened from using computers from age 11 to 39 (28 years!) that it may take me sometime to undo this. So, although my flexibility has gone up and my pain has gone down, I still have a ways to go . . . Hope that helps.

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EFilbert,
I am intensely interested in your experience with the Feldenkrais method... This is something I've only recently stumbled across, and I'm trying to learn more about. It sounds very promising, and like it at least wouldn't do any harm. I do feel regular exercise definitely helps, but sometimes my rib/sternum pain is just too much. Does the ball seem to help you? I'm thinking about getting another one (I used to have one, but it was actually way too small for me!).
LATroon,
I've never heard of ECMatrixx or olive leaf extract, but Zyflamend and Noni both sound a little familiar to me. Unfortunately I am not allowed to take any type of anti-inflammatory due to my bleeding issues, so Motrin is out of the question for me (which sucks, because in large enough doses, it DOES help! But it's something I don't ever risk taking anymore though I used to in the past when it got too bad - that was before my hematologist asked me if I had a "death wish"). I have to be careful even with herbal preparations because some of them have anti-coagulant effects as well... I'm interested if I'd be able to take any of those you mentioned! I'm glad you've found something that helps!! :)

Thank you both for your replies, as yes, this is STILL (and always will be, most likely be) a struggle of mine. I'll take all the advice I can get!

Here's to a manageable day!
~Chandra aka JaidaMoon

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Regarding the Feldenkrais Method. I was introduced to it some years ago because a cousin of mine who is a physical therapist learned it from its originator in the early 80's. Although she practices as a PT, she almost exclusively uses her Feldenkrais background in treating people. There are 2 basic approaches--FI (Functional Integration) and ATM (Awareness Through Movement). The FI is something a hands-on session done by a practitioner. The ATM is something you can do either by finding an ATM group class or by ordering CD's of lessons. There are even some websites that have lessons written out--though I think its easier to be listening to someone's voice. I would say both FI and ATM complement each other. I haven't done FI in years but do ATM exercises regularly and they definitely help keep my body loosened up. I think you could start to look into things by looking at The Feldenkrais Guild online. They should have a list of practitioners. If you are interested in ATM you can contact local practitioners too and they may know if someone in the area offers ATM classes. Again, though, you can do ATM at home on your own.

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EFilbert,

Thanks so much for that information! I will definitely look up the Feldenkrais Guild. I'm glad that you've found it beneficial because I've yet to hear about it "personally" from someone other than random reviews on the net. I appreciate your knowledge and experience! :)
Thanks again,
Chandra

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I realized I forgot to answer your question about the ball. I'm not sure yet if it helps, though I'm hopeful. It seems that I've run across in various places--yoga, bodywork practitioners, etc.--that if someones body is kind of pulling in forward, then its important to add stretches to extend the whole front of the body. Since I'm pretty tight and pulled in forward, I've been taking it slowly. And I've only been doing it when I've already loosed up my body (e.g., after Feldenkrais or yoga exercises).

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