What is it like to live with costochondritis (Costo chondritis)?


What is it Like to Live with Costochondritis (Costo chondritis)?

First, it is a rare disease so you may have not heard of it. The medical definition is – Musculoskeletal condition involving inflammation of costal cartilage (rib cartilage). However, for those living with it, it is different for every one of us. For me it is on the right side of my chest, about 4″ below my nipple. It covers about a 5″ diameter area on the front and about an equal size space on the back of my chest. As many of us living with this know, it is not just the cartilage it is so much more. Many have the pain higher up on their chest and it often feels like a heart attack, in fact, that is how they learn that they have the disease, by going to the hospital for a “heart attack” and learning it is costochondritis instead. That is because it normally affects the 2nd – 5th costochondral junctions (which are in the upper chest area).

Diagram of the Ribs to include the Costal Cartilage

For me, the pain is about a 2-3 constant with flare-ups on most days hitting a 6-7 on the pain scale. Mine occurs on true ribs six & 7 at the cartilage/rib joint (costochondral junction). Right now, sitting at my desk, and I have been for about an hour, I took a dosage of Tramadol an hour ago and the pain is there, it is a strong ache, along the lines of getting punched in the rib cage about 10-15 minutes ago. Periodically, it likes to let me know it is there (this seems to be common with my autoimmune issues), with a quick little flare-up of about 5-6 on the pain scale and then it dies down again. When it is about an hour out from me taking my next dosage, it slowly ramps up to a 6-7 until I take the next dosage and the meds get into my system.

The biggest problem is that you do not realize how much of your torso is actually connected to your rib cage until you have something like this. Then you realize that arm movements, twisting, and bending are actually connected to the rib cage. Not only does movement make the pain worse, but also it is also sensitive to touch. Let me tell you taking a deep breath sucks

I am currently taking 100mg of Tramadol three times a day to combat much of the pain. It is not killing it, but it is bringing it down to a dull roar so when I move the 6-7 is more like a 2-3 or 3-4. I can live with that and learn to ignore and deal with that kind of pain. I can also deal with the side effects of Tramadol. The only problem I foresee is the inevitable changes. A new doctor or maybe a new law will cause a change in my medication, and the new medication not being as effective. I have had to deal with that before, where a new doctor wants to treat something in an entirely different way than what you are accustomed to and what is working. They sing all this praise about how great the new treatment will be or they force the change upon you, by no longer writing a prescription for what works. In addition, of course, the new stuff will not work and they will want you to “stick” with it, while you are in misery.

Nevertheless, for now, I guess I am in “bliss”, or as much of “bliss” as I can be.

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