Chest pain from Costochondritis

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia and ME & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' started by donna13210, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    The pain I'm having from what is apparently Costochondritis, is almost the most miserable pain I've ever experienced! Mine started with some minor pain when I took in a deep breath. Then the pain started in the sternum, upper right chest and straight through to a corresponding spot in my back. The pain has moved twice, but is still in the chest. It is excruciating and impossible for me to function. When it is at its worst, you'll find me sitting in a recliner, crying and clutching a heating pad to my chest. (laying down made the pain worse - I had to sleep in a seated position for about a month!!). Unless you've had Costo, I don't think anyone has any idea how painful it can be. (and the level of pain varies from person to person, from what I hear.)

    My journey to find relief started with my cardiologist who said it wasn't a heart problem and yes, it MAY be Costo, but wouldn't prescribe anything for it & was no help. After that, the pain got so bad I've made 3 separate trips to the ER, trying to get relief. I can't take steroids as I'm a type II diabetic. No one should take a lot of NSAIDS but one ER doc said that an anti-inflammatory is EXACTLY what I need right now, and it would be OK to take 600 mg of ibuprofen every 6 hrs. (but I've had this pain for over a month now & should get off it - but can't). He also gave me an Rx for a narcotic pain reliever, which is the only thing that finally gave me some relief! (but the pills make me SO sleepy, I still can't function).

    I was told that ice is the best thing for an inflammatory condition, but I must say that a heating pad helps with the pain and sure feels more comforting! An ER doc said it would be okay to alternate the two, and I'm still doing that.

    This condition is not showing any signs of going away. I was wondering if any of you have had this problem, and how you treated it. I did a search on this site for previous posts, but didn't see very many recent ones.

    Sorry this is so long! Thanks for listening!

    Donna M.

  2. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    Hi Katherine. Sorry to hear that you've had Costo. I wouldn't wish it on anyone!! Massaging between the ribs sounds really scary. LOL! Maybe I'll get brave and try it. And I haven't even thought about muscle relaxants. Good idea.

    I've tried several OTC topical treatments, but didn't find anything that made much difference. Even prescription Lidocaine didn't help. And the ones that contain menthol made my eyes water for about 3 hours because the fumes would go straight up into my face. (I'm extra sensitive to odors - lucky me). I haven't tried a cold spray yet, so I'll try that. One never knows what will work!

    I ended up sleeping in a seated position because I noticed that when I laid down, the pain would get immediately worse. (I'm a side sleeper). I experienced this when I first started on the narcotic pain meds, and was getting ready to tell my doc that the pills were making my condition worse! (which of course wouldn't make sense). Then I did an internet search on "costro pain worse when lying down" and found other posts from patients that experienced the same thing. So the recliner became my best friend for quite awhile!

    Thanks so much for your reply! Have a good week.

    Donna M
  3. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Active Member

    It's woke me up in the middle of the night or hit me during the day. The pain goes up one side or another of my throat and it's very, very intense. I've learned when I get that I immediately heat up some water in the microwave and drink it down. I think that internally it calms the muscles inside the throat. You might try that. It's been a lifesaver for me.....kinda stops the pain in it's tracks. Also heat up a rice sock and apply heat to your chest.
  4. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    So much great info! It's nice to have a massage therapist on the message board! LOL.

    Yes, I've had Fibro for over two decades, and also have Osteoarthritis. My rheumatologist is testing me for RA, but I've been tested several times in the past, and the results are always negative.

    Funny you mentioned massage, because my rheumatologist just gave me a written order so I can go to physical therapy for this costochondritis. However, I asked him about massage and much to my dismay, he said "No - it won't help". If insurance won't pay for it, I can't afford it, so I was SO disappointed. It's a shame because this Costo set off a horrible fibro flare that I would love to get under control. I live alone, so there's no one to help me with massage (or anything, for that matter). I've been hurting so bad (all over, from head to toe) that I swear one of these days I'm going to stop a stranger walking by and offer him/her $20 to just rub my feet or neck!! How funny would that be?? The stranger would probably have me arrested for being a public nuisance!! LOL

    Thanks again for your input.
  5. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    Yes, my Costo pain feels very much what I would imagine a heart attack could feel like. But my pain is constant 24/7. It hurts more to use the arm on that side, bending over to pick up something, turning over in bed, etc.

    Have you been diagnosed with Costochondritis? Based on your symptoms, I was wondering if your chest pain could be due to acid reflux. I have reflux and take Prilosec daily, which does a great job. But sometimes, out of the blue, I get a CRUSHING chest pain that is very scary, as mine also goes up my neck and into my jaw. For me, though, a cold drink straight from the refrig stops the pain immediately. So strange!
  6. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Active Member

    Have you gone to any other doctor other than heart specialist to have this checked? Does your shoulder in back hurt?

    No, don't have acid reflux and my gallbladder was checked at least 20 years ago because of that pain.

    There is a wonderful trigger point therapy workbook by Claire Davies, that talks about what can mimic chest/heart pain. If you have FM this is a great book to own.....I bought it online.
  7. SherylS

    SherylS Member

    Have had this pain. But it went away and never came back after I started taking coconut oil! You put a teaspoon in hot water (or tea, coffee) and drink that. You can take this two or three times a day. Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory. Might not work for you but is an easy thing to try. Also, I wonder about the Anatabloc other people are talking about on here as far as helping with the pain.
  8. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    I've been to the 3 docs that I saw in the ER, a doc at one of those express-care places, my primary care physician, my rheumatologist, and my cardiologist. That's seven doctors total! I've been given a CAT scan w/iodine and a chest x-ray. And I'm still in such miserable pain when the narcotic wears off! I don't think people believe that what I'm feeling isn't just "soreness" or "tenderness" - it's EXCRUTIATING pain. My rheumy is convinced most of the pain is because I have fibro and arthritis.

    I don't like taking a narcotic, and I'm taking ibuprofen every 5-6 hours, which isn't good, either. This is in addition to all my other Rx meds for diabetes, HBP, acid reflux (GERD), and I take two different antidepressants. I usually take Naproxen twice daily for fibro & arthritis, but stopped that temporarily when I started the ibuprofen. I also take Vit D and Turmeric daily.

    I don't have any shoulder pain, other than normal fibro soreness. But this chest pain goes straight through my chest to my back (below the shoulder blades). And thanks for the info about the Claire Davies book. I'll check it out.
  9. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    So funny that you mentioned Coconut Oil .... I just bought a new jar to start taking internally! I've been procrastinating because I'm not sure how I'm going to like drinking an oily substance (sounds gross), but I'm determined to give it a try. I know what a miracle coconut oil is - the more I read about it, the more amazed I am by the stories. I've applied it to my chest several times since this Costo pain started, but it didn't seem to help.

    I'm not familiar with Anatabloc, but I'll check it out online.

    Thanks for your suggestions!
  10. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    Katherine, I've tried the self-massage with the tennis ball, but I don't last too long doing it. I have trouble adjust the amount of pressure applied - too much pressure and it's too painful (as you know). Plus it just makes me desire a REAL massage even more! That's a good idea about volunteering at a college or school. I'll be making some calls tomorrow! LOL

    Thanks again!
  11. sunflowergirl

    sunflowergirl Active Member

    I've just started again though. I put some in a juice glass, heat up water in a mug in microwave, then put the juice glass in it. The heat from the water melts the coconut oil then take a couple TBS full. It goes down easily. Tried the unmelted way....UGH!!!!! Thought I was going to throw up. Do NOT melt the coconut oil direct in microwave. It does something to the oil and you lose a lot of the benefits.
  12. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    Thanks for the reminder about not melting the CO directly in the microwave - I had forgotten about that. I'm going to try putting a tablespoon of CO in a half cup of warm water, and just drink it down. Shouldn't be too bad. (I hope).

    Ewww, the unmelted way sounds REALLY gross! You were pretty brave to even try it!
  13. jaminhealth

    jaminhealth Well-Known Member

    A friend on another board with Sarc just started on
    the Anatabloc I'm discussing here.
  14. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    Yes, from what I've read, it's inflammation of the cartilage where the ribs attach to the sternum.

    It was bad enough having Costo once, but mine moved from the upper right to the upper left, then moved again to the lower left. There's only one quadrant remaining, so I guess my pain isn't over yet. Oh yay.
  15. Minnie1217

    Minnie1217 New Member

    I've been a member of this site for many years, just haven't posted in a a *long* time. I was dx'd with FM about 15 years ago, but looking back on my life, more than likely I've had this dd most of my life. We all know the drill, right? Being told we're lazy, it's all in our heads, we're hypochondriacs, etc, etc, etc.

    When I was a young child I would get milder attacks of costo and would have to sit on the side-lines and watch while the other kids played. Back then the doctors couldn't find anything that showed up on a lab test so they always told my parents it was "growing pains", that sort of nonsense. I was dx'd with "atypical" rheumatic fever when I was 5, but never had any of the classical symptoms. When I was 35 I started to have many, what I thought were heart related symptoms. This was when the costochondritis really began in earnest. I was sent to several cardiologists and given complete cardiac workups. The conclusion? The lead cardio told me that he highly doubted I ever had rheumatic fever at all. He had me come in every six months for the next two years and then yearly for a couple of years after that, but I never manifested any heart related symptoms; he would run echo-cardiogram, stress tests, EKG, chest xrays, blood work. The only symptom that I consistently held on to was the unbearable pain in my chest -- mine started out on the left side, which was why I was sent to the cardio (along with the mis-dx of rheumatic fever).

    After that very long intro, LoL, which I included, because I want to say that I know how much you are suffering. I can offer you some encouragement in telling you that the costo (at least for me) isn't something that stays on forever. The symptoms come and go. I'm 65 now, so I've been suffering with this for 30 years -- bad news, right? But the good news is that I can go for months at a time without so much as a twinge in my ribs.

    When you're in a flare like you're in now, listen to your body and do whatever it takes to feel better. Sleeping in a chair or recliner is more comfortable than laying down? Do that. I also prefer heat to ice. The ice makes my body tense up and makes the pain more intense -- I can stand ice every now and again for shorter periods than the heat, just listen to your body. Another thought about the ice. Someone mentioned heating a rice sock in the microwave. I keep two rice socks in my freezer. They don't get "shockingly" cold like ice cubes or other ice packs do, and they also have the advantage of offering just a bit of weight to the affected area; they also conform to your body's shape nicely.

    Another member suggested the Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clare Davies. I second that. I have it and have used it many times and found it quite helpful. You probably can find a used copy of it on one of the web sites that sell books and save yourself a few dollars.

    Sorry to have gone on so long. Even sorrier that you're in so much pain. Hope this flare that you're in goes away QUICKLY!!!


    [This Message was Edited on 03/13/2013]
  16. ellikers

    ellikers New Member

    I also recommend trigger point therapy, relaxation, anti-inflammatories and ice/heat.

    The issue is inflammation and easing the inflammation and muscle overactivation with help a lot.

    Hope you get relief fast!
  17. Saoirse3

    Saoirse3 Member

    first he found a massage therapist and did a deep tissue massage. He cried from pain and he's an ice road trucker here in Alaska. But since then he has managed to the pain with Pain RX ( Google it) and a cream called Super Blue Stuff (Google that too) and he seems pretty good. Still gets some pain but nothing like it used to be.
  18. kezzie

    kezzie New Member

    Hi Donna.Just to say that I've experienced the same pain at least 3 times and ended up going to the ER with ?heart attack.The first time was so like the symptoms of a cardiac problem I felt totally drained by this.
    You've given me another more probable cause.
  19. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    Hi Kezzie,

    Yes, in many cases, the pain caused by costo can feel exactly what I would imagine a heart attack feels like. One woman on another site described it as feeling as if someone has smashed a huge rock into her chest. (I would add the words "over and over").

    I'm not clear on your post, Kezzie. Are you saying that you went to the ER with pain that FELT like a heart attack, but wasn't? Or did they diagnose your pain as heart attack?

  20. donna13210

    donna13210 Member

    I started on the organic extra virgin coconut oil. My chest pain is about 70% gone - and that happened within TWO DAYS! I think I was using too much, (about a tablespoon), because I was having a hard time getting past the thick oil floating on top of my coffee. So I'm going to cut back to a teaspoon, and do that several times a day.

    The pain that is left feels like both lungs have a problem, entire rib cage hurts all the way around, through to my back. Sternum is still very sore if I press on it, but if I leave it alone, it's fine.

    I'm simply ECSTATIC about the coconut oil !! Who knows what else it may help me with?!?! Can't wait to find out!

    Donna M.