I have been having severe fibromyalgia related chest pains.

The way I can tell it is fibromyalgia is that a) they are enduring and b) my sternum is extremely tender to the touch and so it is quite inflamed. I am going to the doctor to discuss it. At the moment using anti-inflammatory creams and a heating pad

Fibromyalgia: costochondritis PIN

What is costochondritis anyway?

It is swelling in the cartilage between the ribs and the sternum and the pain can radiate through the chest often feeling like a heart attack. It varies from mind to severe. It can be stabbing, aching, burning and it can be in one location specifically or just all over. It can come and go. In the beginning of this bout, I had just short bouts at night. But then, now, it is all day.

The reproducible tenderness you feel when you press on the rib joints (costochondral junctions) is a constant feature of costochondritis. Without this tenderness, a diagnosis of costochondritis is unlikely.


This is a good test for costochondritis… pressing right on those rib joints and if they hurt like hell it is costochondritis. Or if you breathe in deeply and it hurts more, also a good sign. Just things I do to help assure myself that is in fact what it is.

It can get worse with:

  • Exercising and reparative motions (as I learned as a baker by ignoring it and continuing work until it was quite severe)
  • If you take a deep breath due to the chest wall expanding, you will feel it get worse. So that is why it is better to have shallow even breathing.
  • And yeah, don’t cough ( I have learned with this cold) or sneeze.
  • It can begin in one place, like the sternum, and radiate outward so it can just get worse on its own. In general it is seen to be worse on the left side of the breast bone. But may radiate to your back or even your abdomen.
  • Bending, twisting that sort of deal. I find laying on my side can make it so much worse.
costochondritis symptoms

Now it is a condition in its own right. And it actually can be comorbid with other conditions. And it can occur by itself.

The causes are:

  1. Viral infection
  2. Fungal: Fungal infections are rare causes of costochondritis.
  3. Bacterial: Costochondritis may occur after surgery 
  4. Repetitive overuse or trauma (my first horrible bout was when I was a baker and lifting bags of flour all the time as well as repetitive stirring) This also includes injury due to actually lifting something too heavy for you.
  5. Chest trauma- I mean like a car accident where you can that seatbelt to the chest… can trigger this condition. Anything like that.

So why it is so common with fibromyalgia is a bit of a mystery. But common it is. (60-70 percent of us)

*** WARNING: If you are experiencing chest pains for the first time or there is anything different about them from your fibromyalgia ones or you have any doubt whatsoever… go to the ER. Better safe than sorry. And I am saying this not because it may be a heart attack, but it may, but other things like severe acid reflux. We cannot know sometimes. And reviewing the pain intensity and duration with your doctor is a very good idea.***

No one is exactly sure whether it is true costochondritis or why it occurs with FMS. One hypothesis is that FMS involves inflammation of the fascia, which is a thin layer of connective tissue that runs all through your body. If that’s true, it may explain why costochondritis is so common in this condition.
The fibromyalgia tender points just beneath the collar bone may play a role as well. (Tender points are 18 spots on the body that are used to diagnose fibromyalgia.) Myofascial pain syndrome, which is common in people with FMS, also could be a cause.


Okay, so the most common treatment for inflammation like this is NSAIDs. Since I cannot have them I am in a bit of a spot. I do try ice and menthol topical creams. Others recommend a heating pad. But ice or hot you want to go for about 20-minute treatments. My doctor recommends ice since it is inflammation and she said that is best for that sort of pain. ( Recommend an ice hot reusable pack that way you get either one you want. And I also prefer a multi pack that offers a few sizes. The back size… works great for the chest by the way.)

  • Ice
  • Heat
  • NSAID anti-inflammatories

Other posts on fibromyalgia symptoms

Fibromyalgia and sleep

Allodynia and fibromyalgia

Brain fog, cognitive dysfunction and fibromyalgia

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19 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia: costochondritis

  1. Ouch, sorry you’ve got this to deal with too. I wondered if mine was something similar before, but GP and physio said pulled rib muscles and then cracked rib a few months later, followed by recurring pulled rib muscles (from coughing from flu & chest infections). Those were incredibly painful. Didn’t seem to explain pain by sternum though, but I can empathise as this must be very painful, uncomfortable and impractical with needing to breathe and probably cough at least occasionally. I hope the doctor is useful when you discuss it & that the heat and anti-inflammatories can help a little in the mean time.
    Caz xxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Also have costochondritis so can fully empathise with you Nikki. It has been made worse recently for me by a chest viral infection, too! Can take Naproxen fortunately and this does help somewhat. Also, hot water bottled and my electric heating pad help. Yet, night time is the worst with this for sure!! Sending warmest wishes plus healing light to You my fellow fibromighty migraineur plus fellow costochondritis challenges soul across the ocean, love winging its way to you along with healing light from this British sisu chronic pain warrior from Devon in south west England in the UK to You in Canada 🙂


  3. I always thought it was to do with my Ankylosing Spondylitis but I agree, it’s definatly Fibro related. Its such a horrible pain in that you have no way of getting comfort, can’t lay down, can’t sit, can’t breath.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Been suffering bouts of this for more than a year. Finally went to a naturopathic Dr certified in biomedicine. On inflammation drops, magnesium, curcumin turmeric med,and natural diuretic all help tremendously. Highly recommend over traditional pain med treatments for fibro. Getting rid of inflammation is key, and this costcochronditis will put the strongest person out of commission in a heartbeat! The worst pain ever!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for writing about this. I experienced this after shoveling snow a few weeks ago. I knew it was fibromyalgia but I didn’t know much more than that. Looking forward to reading more of your blogs.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I experienced first in my 20’s with a job as a baker. Man, all the repetitive lifting and stirring really got me. Lasted for six months and I had to take strong anti-inflammatories until it calmed down. Haven’t had a bout like that since, but definitely certain activities trigger it

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Also using CBD cream is very helpful. I have had problems with this since 1984. I had cleaned out a shed that had moldy oats in it and ended up with pericarditis. I was sick for several weeks because of this. The chostcondritis. gets worse if I do not get enough sleep.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have found that when my chostocondritis. is at its worst the best thing I can do is to go to bed. I also cannot use any aspirin products so I can only take arthritis aren’t Tylenol. Pain meds just make my face and head itch like crazy. Sleep had been the best remedy for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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