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Atypical Costochondritis: Complete Resolution of Symptoms After Rib Manipulation and Soft Tissue Mobilization


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Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

Cureus. 2021 Apr 8;13(4):e14369.doi: 10.7759/cureus.14369.


Javier Barranco-Trabi, Victoria Mank, Jefferson Roberts, David P Newman


Costochondritis is a self-limiting, poorly described, and benign condition that usually manifests as non-cardiac chest pain. The symptoms usually tend to resolve in a couple of weeks. Serious causes of chest pain should be ruled out prior to diagnosing costochondritis, as it is often a diagnosis of exclusion. Costochondritis that does not self-resolve is referred to as atypical costochondritis and is associated with high medical expenses and psychological burden on the patient. In this report, we discuss the case of a 37-year-old healthy male patient who presented with a two-year history of intermittent pain along the right anterolateral rib cage without any history of trauma. After extensive diagnostic work-up by Cardiology and Gastroenterology, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) got involved. The initial diagnosis of chest pain evolved into atypical costochondritis given the time course, physical examination findings of focal tenderness, along with normal laboratory values, electrocardiogram, and imaging studies. A multimodal approach was adopted for the treatment of this patient, including manipulative therapy to determine if regional interdependence was present, followed by instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) and stretching to address the potential myofascial pain generators. After three appointments, there was complete resolution of morning pain and there was no pain upon examination. This case highlights how osteopathic manipulation techniques (OMT) can be useful in the treatment of rib dysfunction, especially in atypical costochondritis. Further studies are required to expand our knowledge of costochondritis and physical therapy (PT) techniques, which would allow for early identification and effective treatment of the condition.

Publication Date: 

2021 Apr



Barranco-trabi, J., Mank, V., Roberts, J., Newman, PD. (2021) 'Atypical Costochondritis: Complete Resolution of Symptoms After Rib Manipulation and Soft Tissue Mobilization ', Cureus. 2021 Apr 8;13(4):e14369.doi: 10.7759/cureus.14369.

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