Costochondritis concerns

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I'm a 23 year old female who is very overweight (260 pounds, but trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle). Four days ago, while lying in bed, I began having chest pains that felt as if my heart was being squeezed. I wasted no time in getting to a doctor, where I was promptly diagnosed with costochondritis, despite having no tenderness, the pain not being related to my breathing or movement. He suggested tylenol or aspirin for the pain (which is less of a 'pain' and more of an uncomfortable tightness/squeezing). Neither helped.

Two days later, the chest discomfort had reached the point where I could no longer even sleep. To make matters worse, I had developed some worrying new symptoms. Arm heaviness/weakness, shooting pains, my left hand going numb/thumb twitching for seemingly no reason. I immediately had my boyfriend drive me to the ER. 

They performed an EKG, drew blood, and took chest X-rays. Also checked my blood pressure and pulse. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, they told me everything seemed fine and it was probably just chest wall pain. They sent me home with a prescription for diclofenac sodimum, which has done nothing to help.

I wish I could believe I'm okay and this pain is just from costochondritis, but I'm having serious doubts. The pain I'm experiencing isn't 'sharp' and doesn't seem to be related to movement/breathing like others with the condition say it is. It's constant chest discomfort. It mostly feels as if someone is reaching into my chest and squeezing my heart. Other times it's more of a tightness and I have trouble breathing.

I'm concerned I'm headed for a heart attack or a stroke based on my symptoms. I wont lie; my eating habits for the past six months have been insanely unhealthy. I've lived on nothing but fast food, and I've been eating ridiculous amounts of it every single day. A combination of that, plus stress (my dad died last month after spending months in the ICU due to complications following a liver transplant) leads me to believe something might seriously be wrong with my heart. But the doctors didn't mention any abnormalities after all the tests they ran, so does that mean I'm just worrying for nothing?

I wish someone could tell me I'm just overreacting. I've always been a very anxious individual, so I don't know if my tendency to worry about everything is making my symptoms seem worse than they atcually are or not..

Sorry for rambling so much. My questions are: can costochondritis cause tighting/squeezing sensations instead of sharp, tearing pains? Is it possible to have constochondritis without chest tenderness (it doesn't hurt when I press on the area at all). Could the weakness/shooting pains/numbness in my arms and hands be caused by something that isn't life-threatening? Or am I in danger if falling over dead from a blood clot or stroke or heart attack?

I've been holed up in my house crying about this for days now, scared to death sad Any opinions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Sophie,

    I have also have been dianosed with costochondritis.

    I am 72 years old  and have been in pain for the past 4 months. 

    From what I can tell you, yes, the sensations you descibe in your chest are exactly the same as mine..

    I have stabbing sensations in my ribs and shoulder blades but never in my chest. The trouble with your breathing may be,like me, from an upper resporatory infection?

    I,m not a doctor, the difference between your symptoms and mine is that I never have had any problems with my left hand?  

    I have found thro trial and error that I can get some relief from paracetamol,a hot shower on the effected area,sitting upright at all times and very gentle stretching excercises, and of course sleeping pills. I cannot lay down and spend my nights sitting upright in my armchair.   

    I hope this is of some help


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  • Posted

    Just came across your post and wanted to know how are you doing? I, too, was diagnosed with costo and just like you I've haven't been tender to the touch. Not much pain but more like a discomfort in the chest area. More like something is pressing on it. I also get the arm pains as well.
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  • Posted

    His Sophie, I was recently diagnosed with Costo and was wondering how you were doing and if it got better. My symptoms are all pretty much the same as yours and it also has me very worried that it's something else.

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  • Posted

    My symptoms are exactly like yours! I was diagnosed of Costochondritis last evening. I was working at the office, it was very cold because the A/C are all turned so high, that's when I start feeling as though there's a heavy weight on my back.

    I thought it's just a mild and normal back pain, but a few hours after the discomfort turned to stabbing back pain and squeezing around the chest area as though you're having a heart attack. Then my left hand started to get numb. That's when I decided to go to the hospital.

    The doctor said it was costochondritis and said I should go home and rest for at least 5 days. I'll come back if the pain persists. But I've had doubts and really thought I have a severe respiratory inflammation or spinal disease of some sort so I insisted on getting an Xray and other examinations but the results turned fine.

    But I've had trouble swallowing, I can only swallow small amounts of food, one bit at a time. The doctor said it's because the cartilage connecting to my breastplate is inflammed that's why I feel chest pain when I swallow.

    The doctor gave me Tramadol for the pain but it's not much help. I was able to sleep last night despite the pain. I can only sleep on my side, and uses some pillows to support my ribs. It hurts when I sleep on my back, but I can rest my back when sitting down or when there's a pillow to support my back. There's only dull chest pain like your chest is being squeezed. I only had severe pain in the chest when I suddenly stretched my back.

    It's nice to know that I've found people who've had the same conditions otherwise I wouldn't know what to do. I hope we can fully recover from this. However from what I read from other discussions and health sites it takes a long time to fully recover. And you must take good care of yourself not just physically but mentally too.

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    • Posted

      Hi rgpueblas,

      I wanted to find out how you've been since resting for 5 days?

      I was diagnosed with CC 5 days ago after spending a few weeks (maybe 2/3). My husband thought it was heart burn but finally I went to the ER with chest pains and after an EKG, blood work and X-ray the only thing they could say was that my lungs were swollen. So they gave me an anti inflammatory drug (meloxicam) once a day for 5 days. The first few days I was in terrible pain and discomfort head began to hurt as if I had a sinus headache, my entire body was very very weak. After resting 3 days I was finally better to go to work. I worked Thursday and Friday and took it easy... Friday night I began to feel bad, pain again in my chest, I had been coughing so my sister suggested I take a MuCcinex to control my coughing. She thinks I have acute bronchitis as that also swells your lungs. Anyhow, I woke up various time in the night with an uneasy stomach. I have had a multitude of un easy bowel movements since this began.. finally I fell asleep on my back which I haven't been doing cuz laying on my side is much better yet I woke up in the morning with no real pain just a small sensation but my right hand fingers were numb. I moved and stretched a bit and it went away.. went to the rest room and my feet begin to tingle as if also going numb... I'm wondering now if it may be a pinch nerve of some kind causing all this? I have also been experiencing mild diziness here and there. Any help is greatly appreciated...

      For the pain, I take Tylenol since ibprophen killed my stomach the first couple of days

      And at night I rub neomotizine on my chest which does alleviate the pain. I also hug a heating pad. I work, I face a personal heater on my chest. I can't live like this forever.. something is wrong and I want to get to the bottom of it.

      Before all these symptoms, I bought an apartment with my husband and have been doing all the remodeling ourselves so yes I carried a lot of heavy items, although I wore a mask, a lot of dust and fumes were inhaled making my chest feel clogged. I do strongly beleive that contributed to the my symptoms.

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    • Posted

      Omg! This has been me for the past six months. I? had extremely high blood pressure as well and was put on medications na. However, was told based on test that this was unrelated. Everyday I wake up and go to sleep with chest pain, left arm pain, upper back pain, and sometime in between my breast. I basically lived at the cardiologist and nephrologist for the past months both have been cleared with consto and hypertension. It is beyond unbearable. I feel like all day I? fight whatever this is. Six months ago today switched to a much healthier lifestyle but basically lived off of junk food before that. I have since worked on transitioning into a vegan low sodium lifestyle. I have also found that some time goIng gluten free helps. Most of the time this pain so randomly painful. It’s hard t focus on anything else. Heating pad, sometimes walking, stretching, and yoga help me. I decided to right this tonight because I cannot sleep due to the sharp pain in my arm and chest. I? also had a brain cat scan and was cleared as normal. Lord please help us.

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  • Posted

    Hi Sofie any updates on how you are doing now?
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  • Posted

    Hi SOFIE, I  can relate to your story so much. I am a 28 year old female. I started having chest pains, tightness in my left arm, pain in my shoulder area, and back around February 2017. I was worked a very stressful job, had some family issues, and was not taking care of myself. I was 5'6 and weighed 240 lbs. I didn't think anything of the pain initially other than it was due to lifestyle changes. I started working out and lifting weights. I probably pushed myself to soon. This is when the pain intensified. It got to the point where I could not sleep or drive. I finally went to the hospital and was cleared. Long story short it is now March 2018 and the pain has finally started to subside. I transitioned to a vegetarian lifestyle, walk 30 minutes, and also do light yoga. I now weight 160 lbs. What helped the most was the change in diet, keeping a detailed journal of my eating/activity, also taking a fish oil twice a day. I try to focus on no inflammatory foods. Also, I have been to everyday under the sun sometimes twice....cardiologist, kidney doctor, primary, osteo........All said just inflammation.Hang in there!

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