WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Costochondritis is a condition that causes pain in the cartilage that connect your ribs to your sternum (breastbone). Cartilage is the tough, bendable tissue that protects your bones.
- Acetaminophen: This medicine decreases pain. Acetaminophen is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
- NSAIDs: These medicines decrease swelling and pain. NSAIDs are available without a doctor's order. Ask which medicine is right for you. Ask how much to take and when to take it. Take as directed. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding and kidney problems if not taken correctly.
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
You may need to get more rest. Learn which movements and activities cause pain, and avoid doing them. Do not carry objects, such as a purse or backpack, if this is painful. Avoid activities such as rowing and weightlifting until your pain decreases or goes away. Ask which activities are best for you to do while you recover.
Heat helps decrease pain in some patients. Apply heat on the area for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 hours for as many days as directed.
Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on the painful area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed.
Gentle stretching may help your symptoms. Stand in a doorway and put your hands on the door frame at the level of your ears or shoulders. Take 1 step forward and gently stretch your chest. Try this with your hands higher up on the doorway.
Contact your primary healthcare provider if:
- You have a fever.
- The painful areas of your chest look swollen, red, and feel warm to the touch.
- You cannot sleep because of the pain.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.