Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis: How They Are Connected

Fibromyalgia and Costochondritis

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that involves frequent and recurring body pain. It can be diagnosed in different ways and affects each person differently as the pain levels can vary.

Along with the condition is an increased chance of developing other types of conditions, such as Costochondritis.

Costochondritis can occur in people who already suffer from frequent body pain, as it is a condition consisting of chest pain.

The two conditions have not been studied together enough to solidify their connection but it can be assumed based on the studies already done.

Many people with FMS have stated that they have had hard to explain pain in their chest, rib cages, and breast bones, similar to Costochondritis.

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic disorder that, while not life threatening, can affect the life of those who suffer from it.

Drowsiness, issues sleeping, and chronic pain are just a few of the symptoms. It has been described as feeling like you have a very long, irritable cold.

The level of pain that those with FMS feel can be anywhere from uncomfortable to horribly painful; it can make doing normal activities hard, which affects the lives of those with it.

Symptoms:

  • Tender points on body
  • Constant or recurring muscle and joint pain
  • Fatigue and drowsiness
  • Possible insomnia and other sleep issues
  • Possible headaches
  • Memory/Concentration issues
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

What Is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis, also known as non-cardiac chest pain or musculoskeletal chest pain, is a condition that involves having chronic rib pain.

It affects the rib cage and the breast bone, due to the cartilage between the two becoming inflamed. The pain differs based on how bad the initial swelling is but it can still be quite annoying.

Some have reported it being a type of burning or stabbing feeling, whether it was bad or not.

This conditions cause is not certain, but some believe it could be from a singular or continual trauma to the chest, or from a viral infection.

Even without the main cause of the condition being certain, doctors have found that it can be brought on by having Fibromyalgia (also known as FMS).

Many people with Fibromyalgia have a sort of Costochondritis; around 60-70% of with FMS also have the symptoms that come with non-cardiac chest pain.

Symptoms:

  • Varied pain is rib cage as well as breast bone (Main symptom)
  • Pain when breathing (Breathing stretches inflamed cartilage and causes pain, so can sneezing and coughing)
  • Shoulder and arm pain
  • Redness and/or swelling in the most painful areas (Called Tietze’s syndrome)

How Exactly Are They Connected?

The exact connection between the two conditions is not certain, as Costochondritis is typically a minor injury and not a lifelong condition.

There have, however, been situations where the chest pain that a FMS patient feels is similar to that of non-cardiac chest pain.

Some of the Fibromyalgia tender points* can be found under the collar bone, which could possibly be a reason as to why the ribs and breastbone start hurting.

It may not be exactly Costochondritis, but the symptoms have pointed towards it. Most people hospitalized with FMS have been said to have chest pain that had not been diagnosed.

There seems to be a correlation that is need of being studied, as not enough information is out about the connection yet.

*Fibromyalgia tender points = 18 points on the body that become tender or pained due to FMS; a way to diagnose FMS in patients if it is widespread and recurring.

When looking deeper into the meaning of tender points ensure you are not confused with the trigger points; they are similar but not the same.

Treatments for Both

As Fibromyalgia is seen as possibly causing Costochondritis, curing FMS can help end the recurring chest pain caused by the latter condition. The two are seen as connected and, therefore, can be treated together.

A form of treatment for FMS is hydrotherapy, since the water can reduce inflammation as well as relax muscles.

If you have a pool or spa, which would be worth getting to ease FMS, then there are workouts and routines that can be helpful.

If you have the help of a physical therapist then you can start strengthening, or just easing, your muscles. Doing this can help ease the pain that comes with Fibromyalgia.

Treating Just One

If you want to just treat Costochondritis, then any anti-inflammatory drug along with ice can help. When you have both, it becomes difficult, so check with your doctor about pain medicines and heat that can help, so they do not make it worse. Normal painkillers could interact poorly with the other medications you are on for FMS.

Anything from physical therapy to stress reduction can help ease the effects of FMS; so ensure that you talk to your doctor about what could be best for you.

The condition is one that does not simply go away; it is chronic. The pain can be eased though, with help and a healthy lifestyle.

While the connection between the two conditions cannot be stated as pure fact, many have reason to believe it is true.

The chest pain that FMS patients feel could very possibly be from Costochondritis, which can be caused by frequent trauma. FMS is, in a sense, a frequent trauma as it is chronic body pain.

Treating and maintaining FMS can lower the chances of getting Costochondritis, so it should be looked at.

If someone with Costochondritis feels the condition getting worse or if it is longer than usual, it could be FMS. The two conditions have very similar side effects based on the tenderness of a body part.

To lower the chances of getting Costochondritis, or to help relieve frequent pain caused by FMS, then try exercising or hydrotherapy to ease and strengthen the muscles.

Ensure that you talk to a doctor to see if you have either condition if you experience the various symptoms.

They can both be damaging in their own ways; physically, mentally, or socially, as it limits what a person is able to do from day to day.

Leave a Comment