Skip to main content
Costochondritis

Costochondritis is inflammation where your ribs join your breastbone. It causes sharp pain in the middle of your chest.

The main symptom of costochondritis is sharp chest pain that's worse when moving and breathing.

Costochondritis often gets better after a few weeks. Resting, holding a warm cloth to your chest and taking painkillers can help while it heals.

It's not exactly clear what causes costochondritis. It's been linked to severe coughing, chest injury and strain from exercise.

Read more on the NHS website.

The main symptom of costochondritis is sharp chest pain that's worse when moving and breathing.

Signs and symptoms of costochondritis

When the costochondral joint becomes inflamed, it can result in sharp chest pain and tenderness, which may develop gradually or start suddenly.

The pain may be made worse by:

Read more on the NHS website.

Costochondritis often gets better after a few weeks. Resting, holding a warm cloth to your chest and taking painkillers can help while it heals.

Self-care

Costochondritis can be aggravated by any activity that places stress on your chest area, such as strenuous exercise or even simple movements like reaching up to a high cupboard.

Any activity that makes the pain in your chest area worse should be avoided until the inflammation in your ribs and cartilage has improved.

You may also find it soothing to regularly apply heat to the painful area, such as using a cloth or flannel that's been warmed with hot water.

Medical treatments

Painkillers

Painkillers, such as paracetamol, can be used to ease mild to moderate pain.

Taking a type of medication called a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, 2 or 3 times a day can also help control the pain and swelling. 

Aspirin is also a suitable alternative, but should not be given to children under 16 years old.

These medicines are available from pharmacies without a prescription, but you should make sure you carefully read the instructions that come with them before use.

NSAIDs are not suitable for people with certain health conditions, including:

Contact a GP if your symptoms get worse despite resting and taking painkillers, as you may benefit from treatment with corticosteroids.

Read more on the NHS website.

It's not exactly clear what causes costochondritis. It's been linked to severe coughing, chest injury and strain from exercise.

Read more on the NHS website.