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Health Information For Parents
Costochondritis (kos-tuh-kon-DRY-tis) is a painful swelling of the cartilage that attaches the ribs to the breastbone (sternum). It’s one of the most common causes of chest pain in kids and teens, and happens more often in girls than boys.
Costochondritis — also called chest wall pain or costosternal syndrome — can cause a sharp, stabbing pain. Usually, it’s harmless and goes away on its own after 2 or 3 days.
Doctors often can’t pinpoint the exact cause of costochondritis. But sometimes it’s linked to:
The main symptoms of costochondritis are pain and soreness in the chest. A sharp pain is usually felt on the left side of the breastbone, but can be on both sides.
The pain can get worse when a child:
Pain may ease a little when the child stops moving or takes shallower breaths.
A heart attack is rarely the cause of chest pain in young people. Still, it helps to know how costochondritis pain differs from heart attack pain:
To diagnose costochondritis, the doctor will:
The breastbone and ribs are connected by rubbery
at points called costosternal joints. It’s in one or more of these joints that the pain is felt.
Costochondritis can’t be seen on a chest X-ray, but the doctor may order one to rule out other possible causes of chest pain, such as pneumonia.
Costochondritis usually goes away on its own without any treatment within a few days. Sometimes, it lasts longer — from several weeks to months. If you’re concerned about pain that’s not going away, talk to your doctor.
In the meantime, the doctor will probably recommend giving your child over-the-counter pain medicines like ibuprofen or naproxen to help ease symptoms. Applying a warm compress or a heating pad (set on low) to the sore area also may give some relief.
Until feeling better, your child should get plenty of rest and avoid activities that make the pain worse.
It’s not always clear what causes costochondritis, so you can’t completely prevent it. But many cases are caused by heavy lifting, like carrying an overstuffed backpack — especially on one shoulder, which many kids do. So if your child has to carry lots of books, buy a supportive backpack that spreads weight evenly over both shoulders and make sure it’s worn over both shoulders.
If your child has chest pain that doesn’t go away, call your doctor or go to a hospital emergency room. Chest pain rarely is serious in kids. But sometimes it can be the sign of an emergency that needs medical care right away.
Most causes of chest pain in kids and teens are not serious and will clear up with minimal or no treatment.
Chest pain can be caused by many things, but it is rarely a sign of heart trouble in children. Here’s what to do about it.
Backpacks help you to stay organized. They’re also better for carrying school supplies than messenger or other shoulder bags. But can they cause health problems?
As practical as they are, backpacks can strain muscles and joints and may cause back pain if they’re too heavy or are used incorrectly. Here’s how to help kids find the right backpack.
Playing hard doesn’t have to mean getting hurt. The best way to ensure a long and injury-free athletic career is to play it safe from the start. Find out how.
You practiced hard and made sure you wore protective gear, but you still got hurt. Read this article to find out how to take care of sports injuries – and how to avoid getting them.
Here’s what to do if you think your child has pulled or torn a muscle, ligament, or tendon.
A backpack is an essential item for a kid in school, but they can cause injuries. Find out how to prevent your backpack from becoming a real pain.
Participation in sports can teach kids sportsmanship and discipline. But sports also carry the potential for injury. Here’s how to protect your kids.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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