heart problem?

Costochondritis/Tietze’s Syndrome – 5 Things That Help!

In Blogby Alyssa Reid18 Comments


Many of us with fibromyalgia, CFS/ME experience the very sore, tender (and sometimes scary!) condition known as  costochondritis (which seems to be cross-referenced a lot with Tietze’s Syndrome).

Costochondritis and Tietze’s syndrome are painful, inflamed areas  in your chest and rib area. Here’s a list of 5 things (listed below), which can help reduce the pain and tenderness. Ps. they’re not drugs! Just great alternatives to help relieve pain – naturally.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is where costal cartilage in the area between your ribs and breastbone (known as the costochondral and costosternal joints) has become inflamed.

Although painful, it is not a serious condition and in most cases the condition gets better on its own within six to eight weeks.  We can go months on end without a flare up, then BAM! It hits you!

Costochondritis causes chest pain which is usually felt at the front of the chest. Typically, it’s a sharp, stabbing pain and can be quite severe. Some people may feel an aching pain.

For some people, it feels like they can’t take a deep breathe, others feel like they could be having a heart attack (and so on top of the chest pain, anxiety as well!)  Costochondritis also goes hand in hand with fibromyalgia and CFS as one of the many co-existing conditions as well – 200 !).

5 Non-Pharmaceutical Things That Can Help with Cosotchondritis Pain

The following products have Amazon Affiliate links.  Should you purchase a product through this article, a small commission is made to keep this not-for-profit website running. Please know that product prices are in no way inflated and are at market price.

I have been lucky enough to be able to continue to try new products and supplements and believe that the best word, as always, is word of mouth (or in this case, word of blog! :)).  Of course I always read reviews – and know what works for me, might not work for others.

However, all of the products I do list aren’t only tried by myself, as well as over the years I have bought many a heating pad for friends and shipped Salonpas patches across the world – as well as use in our own home.

So the following 5 things I have chosen for costochondritis are tried and tested by me (and my friends and family, too!).

1.  Heat

And more to the point – a heating pad.

I am always surprised at the number of people I come across who are not owners of a heating pad!!!

People!  If there is anPure Enrichment PureRelief XXL Ultra-Wide Microplush Heating Pad with Fast-Heating Technology, Moist Heat Therapy, 6 Temperature Settings, Auto-Off Timer and Convenient Storage Bag (20" x 24")y investment you are going to make in regards to helping to alleviate pain and discomfort, a heating pad is the way to go! Faffing around with a hot water bottle?  That is old school! And microwaveable heat packs?  They don’t hold the heat for very long, either.


As Dr Harris McIlwain says in one of the best books I have found for fibromyalgia, The Fibromyalgia Handbook,  is that the ‘best’ thing for us to do is to use ‘Moist Heat’, (which is a shower, bath, steam…). Twice a day, for 15-20 minutes at a time.

This heating pad has helped hugely.  Not only is it plush and XXL, it also has a moist heat option, too.

Ps. The cat likes it too!  (That’s why he has his own now, it was beginning to be a competition to see how fast he could get on my vacated heating pad the moment I got up!).

2.  Body Pillow (Ok, it’s a maternity pillow…)

This is definitely another thing that helps me hugely in regards to taking the pressure off of my back area, as well as giving me support under my legs, taking  the weight off of my hips.

Because it is quite thick, the body pillow gives me a lot of support and I am able

to put the heating pad and ice packs into a much better position by using it.

I have tried a few different body pillows, however the Sanggol Body Pillow is THE BEST. (In fact, mine is over 5 years old, and is still as puffy as it was from the first day!).

I have the pillow turned upside down to what this picture shows – so that the long part across the top is actually underneath my knees – giving more support and taking the weight off of my hips.

I also am able to adjust it so that it is under my arms, hips etc – all I can tell you is that this pillow really does the trick!

(It is also great for resting the laptop on one side (so in the middle of our bed) to watch movies on, too!).


3. Ice Packs

Yep.  I can hear you yelling at me right now, ‘I can’t stand the cold, let alone ice!’.

I know that some of us are very sensitive to the cold, so this may not be a suitable option for you – but it is one that can really help if you are able to hack it.

As we know, costochondritis is inflammation – and we all know that ice can be very effective in the reduction of swelling, inflammation and pain.

I have tried a lot of ice packs (for medical vs. food use) in the past, and I can tell you, hand on heart, that KoolPak freezes really quickly – and it lasts a lot longer once in use.  In fact, I would say that they are leaps and bounds better than other ice packs I have tried.

4. Salonpas Patches

I am not sure how I came across these miracle patches from Japan…but wow, they really do work.

In fact, in tracking my use on the FibroMapp App these amazing Salonpas Patches actually working better for me than any of my medications for aches and pains.  

Beyond helping to take the edge off of costochondritis pain, a  couple of months ago, when I had a really bad migraine and nothing would shift it, I cut a patch up and put it on my temples….and it WORKED.

(So now, it’s easy to tell who has a headache in our home, because they have two white patches stuck to their heads – but that’s because they work!).

Actually, our friend had sprained his ankle in a sports injury and I gave him some…well, guess what?  The whole team are now using them – so that says something! 🙂

Amazingly (and rather miraculously), the also work on bruises, too. And sprains. And strains. And arthritis. One patch lasts at least 4 hours, if not longer.

5, Red Light Therapy/Cold Laser

Red light therapy is known to help reduces inflammation and increase blood flowTENDLITE® Advanced Pain Relief FDA Cleared - Red Led Light Therapy Device - Joint & Muscle Reliever MEDICAL GRADE, as well as accelerate tissue repair, too!

It can help to heal cells with non-thermal red light therapy with non-evasive treatment. Great for neck, shoulders, knees and hips as well as for spasms.

Light, easy to use ergonomic design.

Here’s a great FDA approved Red Light Therapy device.

Costochondritis/Tietze’s Syndrome can be so painful and debilitating.  Hopefully these 5  things can help make a difference for you, as they have for me.


  1. When i first got chest pain it started i the morning as a bit of an odd ache and continued to get worse. It was right on/by my breast bone. It got a lot worse over the next 2 hours so i did some self checks. Heart rate was normal, breathing normal. no pain down my arm/up into my face. So i knew i wasnt having a heart attack but i didnt know what was happening.
    When i called my gp i started by saying “i am pretty sure i am not having a heart attack”. Of course because i was having severe chest pain all their protocols kicked in. I was monitored at the surgery and yes everything was ok. But what was it?!?! Then the dr used this word that is now so very familiar.

    1. Author

      Yep. Costo is freaking scary when you don#t know what it is…and even when you do! Hugs x

      1. Author

        I was just going through the comments and read ‘Costco’ is freaking scary’…and immediately jumped to the conclusion of you lost in a very large shop! Time for glasses methinks! 🙂 x

    2. Hi – ive suffered from this ongoing chest pain from 2yrs ago, following a chronic cough and chest infection. Tried so many different meds, treatments and stretches. Ive had breaks frkm pain and taken it back to dull pain and tightness and it did ease back after ongoing chiropractor sessions. Pain back again after a recent cold/cough and my chest pain has flared up again. Doing lots of stretches abd finding some short term relief from pain using a tens machine. Bought a True Back gadget and lying on that seems to help too. Seems to be an ongoing situation for me now and very debiliting Thanks Yvonne

      1. Author

        Hi Yvonne,

        Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I think that it’s always a case of continuing to try new approaches to try and get some relief. One of the things that has also helped me is Advanced Biostructural Correction (ABC). They actually can re-align the rib cage, which can be a bit sensitive at first, but provide relief in the longer term. Alyssa

  2. obviously like your website however you need to test the spelling on quite a
    few of your posts. Many of them are rife with
    spelling issues and I to find it very troublesome to inform the reality on the
    other hand I will surely come back again.

    1. Author

      Hi there – thank you for your comment – I try my best to be fastidious with spelling and appreciate your comment. I am wondering what in particular you are finding issues with? As perhaps they might be the British spelling for things (generally with an ‘s’ instead of a ‘z’ such as ‘customise’, ‘personalise’ etc. As this is a British social enterprise, (s!) and being British, we have the choice to write in the British spelling of words that North Americans spell differently – or North American spelling that British spell differently! So there’s no winning for both. In saying this, please do let me know if there is anything I may have missed – Unfortunately it takes me close to a week to write a blog – and admittedly, after doing around 50 revisions per blog – my eyes are not fresh to say the least! Alyssa

  3. Thank you for this very useful and pro-active advice… I’m grateful you took time to share.. xx

  4. Hello Alyssa, I have been suffering for SO long with rib pain on both of my sides, now it’s my ribs in front too, I’ve had catscans, MRI’s, you name it, I’ve had it. No Dr has been able to tell me anything. Now I go to pt twice a week, doesn’t help, a chiropractor, seems like it makes it hurt more, I was going to acupuncture for awhile, it seemed like it helped a little bit, I feel so lost, this has been hurting me for about 3 years now….feels like it’s getting worse, and I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t afford expensive ultrasound machines, I’m a disabled single mom of 2, I could get the salonpas and try those and the ice packs, though I do hate the cold lol .. I plan to keep reading your blog, if it is still active, I just came across it looking for any ideas, I believe I do have costochondritis, even though I haven’t been diagnosed with it officially…sorry this is so long lol

    1. Author

      Hi Melanie.

      I am so sorry to read that you are struggling with this. It is so painful and uncomfortable and it sucks! Do you have a heating pad? Try ice (if you can bear it) and then heat, keep swapping it for around 20 mins on each. The best thing that (unfortunately) seems to help in regards to meds are NSAIDS (ie ibuprofen, naproxen etc) but they are horrific on the stomach. The Salonpas certainly works well for me (albeit not easy to put on your back by yourself!:)). Thank you so much for your comment. And thank you for your interest! Hang in there…you aren’t alone… A.x

  5. Thanks Alyssa,
    Unfortunately I can’t do NSAIDS because I have kidney issues, also I recently (3/9/16) had gastric bypass surgery, so I can’t take any of those, only thing I can take is Tylenol, which are very little to no help. I will try the salonpas as well as some ice, and yes, I do have a heating pad, I think I may be due for a new one, though, the one I have seems to get way too hot on the lowest setting. But I appreciate your help and I will stay in touch 🙂 Thank you!

  6. I was in to ER Today PMG I thought I was having a heart attack to it was Costchondritis I am gonna try the Ultralieve Thank you so much for all your advise but This is awful pain in my hips,back ,neck chest and On & On Hell getting old!!!

  7. I love running. Unfortunately, after my long distance run I will get this particular pain in my left uppar body part. Truly painful. Doc told me not to worry as it is not related with the heart!

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