If you have ever suffered costochondritis (chest inflammation) in the past, it’s easier for it to return.

Especially if you have fibromyalgia because costochondritis pain is a common ‘symptom’.

The following tips can help you take the edge off the disabling costochondritis pain spikes when it flares, and help you heal faster and get back to your normal routine.

Quick tips for a costo flare

NSAIDs like ibuprofen or Voltaren gel can help reduce inflammation, and help you to get a handle on the pain quicker than trying to tough it out.

Relieve the chest pain. Hot or cold packs, gentle stretching, warm baths, breathing exercises, and gentle movement relaxes the tight muscles, reduces pain, and ensures good blood flow to the affected areas.

Get help. Ask for help to open doors, lift things, open jars and bottles, clean a house and shop.

  • Movements that intensely use the chest muscles make the inflammation and pain worse
  • Avoiding aggravation by asking for help with these movements will let you recover quicker, even though you may feel silly asking!

Rest and recuperate. You can’t keep pushing through a costochondritis flare without making it worse. Rest is most important!

Follow these stretches and exercises to open your chest, relax the muscles, and reduce pain.

Relax and de-stress. Hard to do when you’re in pain, but very effective in reducing pain. Take some time to meditate or run through progressive relaxation exercises. Slow and deep breathing into your belly will also relax the muscles, encourage blood flow and healing. Take a bath, or lie down with a heat or cold pack on your chest, and relax.

Longer term costochondritis?

For those who have chronic costochondritis or as a symptom of another underlying illness (like fibromyalgia), lifestyle changes and more regular stretching and exercises are necessary to prevent bad costochondritis flares.

Stress reduction, posture correction while standing or sitting, avoiding heavy doors, lifting correctly, limiting heavy lifting, using aids for opening tight jars, using a backpack instead of a shoulder back, regular stretching and gentle exercise, a good mattress and healthy sleeping routine, are all extremely important in preventing a flare.

Being overweight can make costochondritis worse, especially if you are a woman. But you need to be careful of what exercises you do so as to not strain the chest muscles further.

Push ups? Ouch! 

Plank? Just don’t do it!

Here are some more costochondritis hacks to both deal with and prevent flares.

What are your tips for getting through a costo flare?