If you’re suffering from pain or discomfort in the chest region when taking a deep breath, you may be dealing with a condition known as costochondritis. Costochondritis is a medical issue that involves inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your sternum. We don’t often think of your rib cartilage as an area where inflammation is bothersome, but given the movement the area endures when you breathe, it should come as no surprise that when the condition develops, it can certainly make life uncomfortable.
Fortunately, physical therapy can work wonders to help calm inflammation and make breathing a comfortable action once again. Below, we take a closer look at how physical therapy can help you overcome costochondritis.
Causes and Symptoms of Costochondritis
Due to the symptoms it presents with and the vital function of our lungs, patients may sometimes assume they are dealing with a more serious health condition, like a heart attack. That said, costochondritis is a condition that should be taken seriously, because it can be quite debilitating if the inflammation worsens. Aside from discomfort while breathing, you may also experience pain while bending forward, while moving from a seated to standing position, or when putting gentle pressure on the chest area.
And while we know that inflammation of the rib cartilage is to blame for your discomfort, it pays to understand what can cause this inflammation in the first place. Common reasons for costochondritis onset include:
- Chronic coughing, which strains your chest area.
- Trauma or injury to the chest.
- Overexertion or repetitive stress on the chest, core and back.
- General wear and tear of the years.
- An inflammatory response to an infection.
Treating Costochondritis With Physical Therapy
Working with a physical therapist can help in a number of different ways. First, a physical therapist can help you understand the underlying factors that are contributing to your costochondritis. For example, they can conduct a number of physical tests to examine rib mobility, muscular function, lung capacity and other factors that may be putting strain on your rib cartilage.
After understanding how certain individual factors may be overloading your rib cartilage, they can develop a therapy routine aimed at improving certain deficiencies, which may include a combination of:
- Rib mobility exercises
- Spine mobility exercises
- Range of motion exercises to take strain off the chest cavity
- Postural strengthening exercises
- Deep breathing and lung strengthening exercises
- Controlled exercise to improve circulation and calm inflammation
Many patients notice relief very quickly once physical therapy is pursued, and we pride ourselves on giving you the tools to help prevent and treat and flareups in the future. We’ll teach you what exercises you can perform and what long-term physical improvements you can strive for to decrease the likelihood of rib cartilage inflammation in the future. Not only can physical therapy help you overcome costochondritis, but it can also help prevent the condition from returning.
So if you have been experiencing tightness or discomfort when breathing, and you have reason to believe that you may be dealing with costochondritis, consider heading straight to a physical therapist’s office. You don’t need a referral from a doctor, and we have all the tools to help provide a diagnosis and set you up with an individualized treatment plan. For more information, or for assistance overcoming a different physical issue, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today at (612) 339-2041.
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