Costochondritis and fibromyalgia

Costochondritis_ The chest wall pain that feels like a heart attack but isn't pain type.


It turns out one of my physio exercises is giving me chest wall pain. It is a pain called Costochondritis. When I first developed it in my early twenties I was working as a baker with a lot of heavy lifting and repetitive arm movements.It gave me a great deal of pain that grew and grew and extended to longer parts of the day. Until I finally got a doctor to diagnose it, was unable to work and was put on a boatload of anti-inflammatories.

Costochondritis is inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your breastbone. It can be mild or extremely painful. It can be stabbing, aching or burning. People often mistake it for a cardiac event. In fact, had a taken a triptan that first day I did that exercise… I would have assumed it was my heart. Pain is the same. Thing about Costochondritis is that when you aggravate it over and over, it lasts longer and longer. It was just happening at night, well after I did the exercise. Hard to see the link, but I am familiar with the condition so the third day it seemed rather coincidental I was getting these chest pains at night. Now they are right in the evening, so earlier, even though I am doing the same amount of exercise with the arm movements.

Aside from fibromyalgia typical causes of Costochondritis are chest trauma, repetitive trauma, and viral infections. It seems pretty common in FM, such that some researchers believe that is another cause, but either way, it makes it worse. Around 60-70% of people with FM have symptoms similar to Costochondritis. Which is decidedly odd when you consider it because FM does Not cause inflammation. However, it does have tender points and the ones beneath the collarbone may be an issue. Or trigger points.

Normally this condition clears up fairly quickly with treatment, with FM it can be flared up repeatedly and when it does it can endure.

Pain in the chest wall and ribcage are the main symptoms. Which get worse with exercise and activity, taking a deep breath, sneezing or coughing. Pain can also spread to arms and shoulders… again mimicking a heart attack.

Treatment is anti-inflammatories. Which will not work for me, because I cannot touch them. So clearly I have to work on my physio workout in some way.



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