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Exploring the Connection Between Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis

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A few years ago when I went to the ER with chest pains. After running tests, it was determined that my chest pains were not due to a heart problem. The chest pains most likely were caused by costochondritis, which was very painful. After that episode I did some research on costochondritis, and how it was connected to my fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).

Costochondritis causes pain around the rib cage, where it connects to the breastbone. It’s considered to be a non-cardiac or musculoskeletal pain. It can be scary thinking that you’re having a heart attack. If you’re concerned about the chest pain you’re having, it’s always best to get it checked out immediately. Never take chances with your health.

Costochondritis can feel like stabbing or burning, or achy pain, depending on the degree of inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs and breastbone. It is not always related to FMS, but having FMS definitely can make it worse. Since being diagnosed many years ago, I’ve talked with hundreds of women who have FMS and have experienced this painful condition.

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Ice and anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin or Advil can help with the pain, but be sure to check with your doctor to make sure whatever you choose will not interfere with the meds you are currently taking. Try to rest and relax. Costochondritis can be caused by an injury to the chest, or potentially from a persistent cough. Exercise, overuse of your arms, and chronic cough may exacerbate the pain.

The two ways that you typically would experience costochondritis pain with FMS would be an intense stabbing sensation that affects the left side of the chest wall more than the right; this is the one that can make you feel as if you’re experiencing a cardiac event. The other is a lingering soreness in the chest that feels worse with touch or pressure.

It’s been a while since I’ve experienced this, but when I do, I don’t panic, as I did the first time. As a woman in her 60s, I’m aware of the symptoms of a potential heart attack. I consider everything when I get chest pain. FMS has a lot of different co-morbid conditions associated with it, and costochondritis is just one of them.

Have you experienced costochondritis? Feel free to share your experience here, and share this column with those you feel might benefit from this information.

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