Having chest pain can have different meanings depending on your age. If you’re below the age of 20 or so, it may be bothersome, but not anything to worry about in most cases. But for those in their late 20s and especially older adults, chest pain can be an alarming sign of some type of heart problem. In either case the cause of your chest pain in New York City could be a condition called costochondritis, which can be effectively treated with a course of physical therapy.
Costochondritis, or simply chest wall pain, is a condition that is defined by a painful, chronic inflammation of the costochondral junction. This junction is the location where the upper ribs join with cartilage that holds them to the sternum (breastbone). Pushing on the cartilage in the front of your ribcage can therefore recreate the pain of costochondritis.
Costochondritis is a common reason for chest pain in children and adolescents. The peak age it develops is between 12-14, and 650,000 new cases are diagnosed in individuals aged 10-21 each year. This makes costochondritis account for 10-30% of all cases of chest pain in children. In adults, chest pain is considered a sign of a more serious heart problem until proven otherwise. For these cases, doctors must run several tests to rule out a heat attack, heart disease and any other heart-related conditions. If these tests are normal and a physical exam also confirms it, then the doctor will usually make a diagnosis of costochondritis.
Although costochondritis is an inflammatory process, in most cases it has no definite cause. Having repeated trauma to the chest wall, overusing the arms and any type of infection can all contribute to its development, but for some patients the cause is not clear. When it does occur, the most common symptom is chest pain that usually occurs on the left side between the 4th-6th ribs, which often arises after exercise, minor trauma to the area or a lung infection, and may spread to the back or abs.
Alleviating your chest pain in New York City with exercise and activity modification
If you happen to experience chest pain in New York City that may be due to costochondritis, physical therapy can help, regardless of your age. Our personalized treatment programs generally focus on reducing pain and improving function through various exercises. A typical program will consist of the following:
- Ice and/or heat to relieve pain
- Manual therapy, such as massage and/or mobilization of the ribs and surrounding area
- Gentle stretching exercises for the chest muscles
- Training to improve posture if it is a cause of pain
- Education on how to limit and modify your activities in order to reduce further strain on the chest that can make symptoms worse
Costochondritis may not sound all that bad since you don’t really “use” your chest a whole lot, but it can actually be quite the burden for those who have to deal with it. So for anyone who has noticed chest pain in New York City that may be holding you back, Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy is here to help. Contact us at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on costochondritis.