Fighting costochondritis for a year

Anyone else having chronic problems with costochondritis? I know that they say that it usually goes away after several months, but I'm coming up on a year. The PsA apparently just makes my body keep up the inflammation all the time. I'm on mtx, simponi and 5 mg of prednisone. I have had the shots in the rib cage for it, and they helped for less than a month. I'm taking more pain meds just to be able to stay sane, and I need some relief! Or maybe I just need to know that I'm not the only person on the planet battling something that is supposed to be a short-term problem. Anyone had success battling it? Or not had success and want to vent with me?

Dana, I am so sorry that you have been suffering so long with this. I have suffered with several bouts of costochondritis through the years. I cannot tell you how many trips there were to the ER before I finally had a diagnosis of mixed connective tissue disease. Since the time I was diagnosed with PsA I have had several more episodes, but I no longer go to the ER. If it isn’t a heart attack they don’t really seem to get it. My episodes only last for a few weeks at a time though. I can only sympathize with you for having to deal with this for almost a year. My pain has always been so bad that tears run down my face with every step I take. The people I work with are sympathetic, but unless you have experienced it, I don’t think they can understand just how painful it is. There has never been anything that really helped me. My body has just had to work itself out along with all of the medications. My heart goes out to you.

Thank you, Georgia. I agree that it isn't a pain that people really understand. I was lucky to have an anesthesiologist for a pain doctor who recognized what it was after only one trip to the ER. Some weeks it is not as acute, but the last two weeks have been at the stage you are describing. I'm the same way about going to the ER. It is just not productive once you know what it is. I am VERY fortunate that I had some good disability insurance as a teacher, so I am not working right now. I don't know how I would function if I had to speak loudly and run around the room putting out fires. Thanks for your reply. It helps to hear from others. Plus, you are right about the meds. I have been adjusting meds again the last couple of years, and we have finally hit upon a combination that is keeping the inflammation under control. Hopefully it will build up to the point that the costo is helped by it. (NSAIDS would do more, but my stomach is not tolerating anymore of those for the moment.)

Thanks again!

I don't have it as severely as you, but I do get it frequently. It gets especially bad when I sleep in a slightly awkward position, then I wake up and it feels like my sternum is being crushed! My doctor has mostly ignored it since i'm in between medicines and we are focusing on other things right now. I've found a warm shower helps somewhat :( I hope you get some relief soon.

Thanks, Emma!

So that's what that is ... must call rheumy....thanks for posting!

I'm so sorry!! :( I have it too but not nearly that bad. I wish I knew of something to help!!!

OH MY GOODNESS! I am so sorry you have this, but now I have a name for what I suffer from!!!! I keep telling my doctor that all of my ribs hurt so badly and he looks at me like I am insane. Just add this to the long list of ailments this sucky disease has caused.

I learn so much from this forum. Thank you for your post, I now know I am not crazy and this is a real side effect from PsA.

Feel better soon!!!!! I can "feel your pain" (quite literally!)

Lainee B.

Thanks for your support, ladies, and I am really glad to know that the post helped a couple of you find another small piece to the puzzle.

As it is persistent do you think it is PsA causing the rib inflammation rather than costochondritis? I've had the same problem for years and it surges and wanes in line with the PsA overall symptoms and is recorded as a PsA affected area.

Allan, that is a good point. My pain doctor calls it costo, but he definitely considers it a function of the PsA. Perhaps calling it costo is a little misleading. My rheumy seems to assume it is part of the PsA, too, since she is "treating" it by simply trying to get better management of my symptoms. Either way, they both refer to it as costochondritis. I'm thinking that a rose by any other name...hurts! :-)

I think this may well be what I've been dealing with the last 6+/- months. It only affects my left side in the stomach/abdomen area. Pain seems to start at the ribs and extend into my stomach muscles, about 1/2 way in toward my navel. Does that make sense? It also hurts when I breathe in and exhale deeply. I did a lot of housework the other day and now my back (lt side lower) is painful as well. The back issue may just be a muscle strain from the cleaning (I hope).

We have a medical phone service in Ontario. I phoned this afternoon and they said I should go to Emergency immediately. They seem to err on the side of caution, I don't even feel like going tonight but I will go tomorrow.

Costochondritis might just be what's going on. At least I now know what it might be, but I'm wondering if the stomach muscle involvement is part of this. More research and or ER soon I guess. I'm also seeing my Rheum. on wednesday and will discuss this with him. Any feedback would be appreciated. I'm new here and very happy that I found this site, even though some of the information scares me at times...

After a bit of research I see that this usually affects where the ribs attach to the sternum; that's not what I'm experiencing. Back to the drawing board...

Take care everyone

As I remember the word costochondritis means inflammation in the cartilage between the ribs. I think PsA, as well as other things can cause the cartilage to become inflamed. I have had it in the past but am able to take NSAID which relieves it and other soft tissue inflammations, tendonitis, and bursitis etc. I also take lots of hot baths, whirl pools and exercise in a hot pool 88-92 degrees. I also use splints (though that doesn't work for ribs!) and apply Salonpas which have some topical anti-inflammatory in it. If I am dealing with very persistent inflammation in some soft tissue I get muscle spams near it. Such as in my abdomen. I can feel the muscles in a ball against my ribs and if I pull against it I can get it to release. I get similar muscle spasms in my back and legs. Is this what you are describing JW?

HI JW, I've also had pain in my ribs for many, many weeks. Just thought it was all part of the PsA inflammation. I'm going to follow up with my doc about this to ensure it's nothing more serious. Let us know what you find out.

Hi Micheal,

I do get muscle spasms, but only in my left shoulder: I had a bad flare there over a year ago and am still recovering from lost muscle(s) in that area. I didn't realize that it was from soft tissue inflamation however, I just thought I was over-using that arm/shoulder. This is something else that I have to share with my Rheum. later this week..


I too will be discussing the pain in my ribs with my Dr., I'm concerned and wondering also. My G.P. says it's just muscle strain or damage, but he barely examined me and has minimal knowledge of PsA. I'll definitely let you know what I find out.

Thanks guys :)

JW I do not really know if it is due to overuse or inflammation. I do try to exercise in the pool and the incidence does decrease when I do. I have been very lazy over the winter and am having more of them right now as I try to up my activity. I hope this and your doctor are able to help.


I didn't realize you've been in so much pain. I hope it gets better soon. Lots of hugs and good thoughts sent to you,


Dana said:

Thanks for your support, ladies, and I am really glad to know that the post helped a couple of you find another small piece to the puzzle.

I know this post is old but wanted to say that my costochronditis has been constant for the past 6 months. I was just diagnosed with PsA about 2 weeks ago. I have not started any medications yet, though Rheumy wants me to take mtx, but I’m hesitant to start it. With that said, I’ve just been dealing with the rib pain with icy/hoy, heating pads, and a LOT of hot showers. Sometimes Motrin when its bad, but that barely helps…I will be talking about it next month with my Rheumy to see if a steroid shot will help or not.

For some reason, the steroid shots haven’t been successful in treating mine. However, I know there are people who get relief from them. I certainly have had success in other joints, so I was surprised that they didn’t work for my ribs. I hope it fixes the problem for you! Let us know how you and your doctor treat it. More info is always good even if it is contrary to one’s own experience.

I still have the pain and have had to mask some of it with pain meds, sadly. Fortunately I have a great pain management doctor who does everything he can without meds until all else fails. Then he does a great job of troubleshooting specific pains with specific meds.