A common condition seen at the thoracic cage is costochondritis. It is characterized by chronic inflammation of the connection of the ribs to the sternum. It is diagnosed based on patients symptoms and palpation of the relevant anatomical parts: sternum, 12 thoracic vertebrae and 12 paired ribs and associated costal cartilages.
The symptoms include pain worsening with certain movements and especially when taking deep breaths. Pain can be sharp or dull and can present with associated swelling of the connective cartilage where the ribs attach to the sternum.
A thorough assessment is required to rule out other conditions of the chest including heart and lung conditions.
Physiotherapy treatment involves:
- Identifying and minimizing aggravating factors and activities
- Assessing and correcting any weaknesses or mobility issues
- Correcting breathing and movement biomechanics where needed
- Manual therapy to reduce pain and assist with improving mobility
- Hot/cold therapies
- ANF therapy
- Hydrotherapy can also be useful for some cases