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Call the doctor for any of the following symptoms:

  • Trouble breathing
  • High fever
  • Signs of infection such as redness, pus, and increased swelling at the rib joints
  • Continuing or worsening pain despite medications

Go to a hospital's emergency department if you have difficulty breathing or any of the following symptoms occur. These symptoms are generally not associated with costochondritis:

  • High fever not responding to fever-reducers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)
  • Signs of infection at the tender spot such as pus, redness, increased pain, and swelling
  • Persistent chest pain of any type associated with nausea, sweating, left arm pain, or any generalized chest pain  that is not well localized: These symptoms can be signs of a heart attack. If you are not sure what is causing your condition, always go to the emergency department.
Self-Care at Home

Treatment involves conservative local care with careful use of nonsteroidal antiinflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen as needed.

Local heat or ice may be helpful in relieving the symptoms.

Avoid unnecessary exercise or activities that make the symptoms worse. Avoid contact sports until there is improvement in symptoms, and then return to normal activities only as tolerated.


Because inflammatory costochondritis has no definite cause, there is no good way to prevent it.


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