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A person experiencing the chest pain of costochondritis.

My Newest Symptom: Costochondritis

At the beginning of last year I noticed a new symptom that I’ve never experienced before. I remember I was driving at the time when I noticed a sharp pain in my upper right side which radiated up into my shoulder. It wasn't excruciating, although it was rather uncomfortable and made me curious as to what it could be.

It carried on for a number of days and I noticed that if I tried to carry something or if I stretched it would make it worse, and it literally felt as though my ribs were aching all the time on my right side.

Of course, with having any type of pain being felt in that general area, it's always a concern, especially with lupus. There's always the added risk of strokes, heart attacks and blood clots, so that's why I decided to visit my doctor, just to be on the safe side.

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Blood tests and an ultrasound

She examined me, took my blood pressure and listened to my chest, but she was unable to find anything immediately wrong, so she organized for me to have some blood tests and an ultrasound as she thought it might be gallstones.

If I’m honest, I was thinking that's probably what it was with the pain being on my right side,. However, I was surprised to learn that the results from the ultrasound were all clear. I was pleased about this because I really didn't fancy the prospect of having an operation to remove my gallbladder! Although it still left me wondering what on earth this mysterious pain was?

I would find some days were worse than others, and I was taking a lot of painkillers to quell it.

Costochondritis diagnosis

I finally had my appointment to see my rheumatologist. After explaining how I had been feeling, he immediately diagnosed costochondritis.  I had never heard of it before. He told me that it's common in lupus patients as it’s basically inflammation of the chest wall.

He said it can also affect the ability to 'breathe in' deeply as it can cause a sharp catchment type of pain. I have to say this hasn't been too much of a problem for me, it's more the pain around my ribs and back that has been problematic.

Treating and managing costochondritis

I asked him what can be done to treat it, and he advised that taking strong painkillers will help to take the edge off the pain, but it's more a case of resting and waiting for it to settle on its own, which is highly frustrating. He also gave me a steroid injection at my appointment and, like a miracle, after a few days the pain was so much better! It was such a relief.

I found this interesting because to help control my lupus disease activity, I used to have regular steroid injections. I noticed the frequency of UTI's that I was experiencing was getting worse, and my medical team pinpointed the route cause of this was due to the steroid injections. I had to stop them, although this 'one off' injection really helped the costochondritis.

Sadly, since then I’ve experienced several bouts of costochondritis and I just have to manage it as best I can with rest. I've also found that applying a hot water bottle to the area seems to offer some relief. I just have to be extra careful that I don’t do any type of activity that might cause it to flare up.

Treatment results and side effects can vary from person to person. This treatment information is not meant to replace professional medical advice. Talk to your doctor about what to expect before starting and while taking any treatment.
This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Lupus.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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