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Costochondritis: Diagnosis and Treatment - Article
ABSTRACT: Costochondritis, an inflammation of costochondral junctions of ribs or chondrosternal joints of the anterior chest wall, is a common condition seen in patients presenting to the physician's office and emergency department. Palpation of the affected chondrosternal joints of the chest wall elicits tenderness. Although costochondritis is usually self-limited and benign, it should be distinguished from other, more serious causes of chest pain. Coronary artery disease is present in 3 to 6 percent of adult patients with chest pain and chest wall tenderness to palpation. History and physical examination of the chest that document reproducible pain by palpation over the costal cartilages are usually all that is needed to make the diagnosis in children, adolescents, and young adults. Patients older than 35 years, those with a history or risk of coronary artery disease, and any patient with cardiopulmonary symptoms should have an electrocardiograph and possibly a chest radiograph. Consider further testing to rule out cardiac causes if clinically indicated by age or cardiac risk status. Clinical trials of treatment are lacking. Traditional practice is to treat with acetaminophen or anti-inflammatory medications where safe and appropriate, advise patients to avoid activities that produce chest muscle overuse, and provide reassurance.
ABSTRACT: Approximately 1 percent of primary care office visits are for chest pain, and 1.5 percent of these patients will have unstable angina or acute myocardial infarction. The initial goal in patients presenting with chest pain is to determine if the patient needs to be referred for further testing to rule in or out acute coronary syndrome and myocardial infarction. The physician should consider patient characteristics and risk factors to help determine initial risk. Twelve-lead electrocardiography is typically the test of choice when looking for ST segment changes, new-onset left bundle branch block, presence of Q waves, and new-onset T wave inversions. For persons in whom the suspicion for ischemia is lower, other diagnoses to consider include chest wall pain/costochondritis (localized pain reproducible by palpation), gastroesophageal reflux disease (burning retrosternal pain, acid regurgitation, and a sour or bitter taste in the mouth), and panic disorder/anxiety state. Other less common but important diagnostic considerations include pneumonia (fever, egophony, and dullness to percussion), heart failure, pulmonary embolism (consider using the Wells criteria), acute pericarditis, and acute thoracic aortic dissection (acute chest or back pain with a pulse differential in the upper extremities). Persons with a higher likelihood of acute coronary syndrome should be referred to the emergency department or hospital.