The first step in treating costochondritis is to have it diagnosed by a doctor. Costochondritis is inflammation of the ribs or of the cartilage that connects the ribs. It is not easy to perform tests to diagnose costochondritis. A doctor can reproduce tenderness over an area with his hands. He will also check for swelling and redness in the area of the costochondritis. The doctor will also do a chest x-ray to rule out the possibility of a broken or fractured rib. Once a diagnosis has been determined, then treatment can begin.
One of the most successful ways to treat costochondritis is through the administration of anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or a naproxen such as Aleve. These medications are available for purchase over-the-counter, but the patient should take them as directed in order for them to be effective in treating the costochondritis. If the pain and symptoms do not begin to diminish within a week of using the medications, then you should see your doctor.
Hot and Cold
Applying a heating pad or a bag of ice to the affected area is effective in eliminating the pain. If you feel more comfortable on heat, then use the heating pad. Be careful not to put the heating pad too hot. However, if you feel more comfortable with ice, then use an ice bag. Both are equally effective.
Relax a While
When you are healing from costochondritis, you should avoid do a lot of activities such as walking, exercises, bending, lifting and other things that could cause the pain to become worse. You should lie down and relax and give your body enough time heal. Most patients make a full recovery from this condition when they take the medications as directed and when they get the rest and relaxation that their body needs to heal itself.
When to Contact the Doctor
After your initial visit to the doctor, you will probably not have to go back to the doctor except for a checkup. However, if you experience any of the following symptoms, you consult your doctor immediately: high fever, trouble breathing, signs of infection or increased and unmanageable pains. You may also consider calling your doctor if you do not see any change in how you feel after two weeks of starting treatment for costochondritis.