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cristiana

Is Costochondritis Itchy & Does It Always Affect The Sternum Area?

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I have pain and irritation generating from the left side of my rib cage,under the arm and breast area.  Having all sorts of investigations but getting nowhere as doctors can't agree.  Does this sound like it could be costochondritis to anyone who has suffered from it as reading stuff on line suggests the pain should come from the sternum, which isn't the case with me.  Also, can it feel itchy? Thanks.

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I've had costochondritis a few times. For me, it was a pain to the left of my sternum, near my collar bone, over my heart. It would hurt after sprints or for weeks on occasion, usually after an illness. It hurt more with deep breaths. The pain did not go to my side, and I wouldn't describe mine as itchy.

 

Good luck finding answers.... It can be a frustrating process. :(

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Thanks so much nvsmom - glad you haven't got costochondritis any more!  It doesn't sound nice.  One doctor thought I could have Tietze syndrome but then said, "I'm not sure that explains the itchiness".   I find it so hard dealing with uncertainty as I always imagine the worst.  If anyone else has had either condition and found it caused itchiness in their case I would love to hear.   It's the sort you can't scratch, it feels like something in my chest is irritated.

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I have pain and irritation generating from the left side of my rib cage,under the arm and breast area.  Having all sorts of investigations but getting nowhere as doctors can't agree.  Does this sound like it could be costochondritis to anyone who has suffered from it as reading stuff on line suggests the pain should come from the sternum, which isn't the case with me.  Also, can it feel itchy? Thanks.

I suffer from repeated bouts of Shingles...pain can be excruciating and ITCY either the itch comes with the onset, but can be crazy after the rash blooms and then begins to heal. I have had "shingles" or just Herpe Simplex with only one tiny lesion...but the pain can radiate and seem to be emanating from my spine to the breast. I can have fever, but mostly not.

A simple blood test can confirm Herpes Simples or Shingles (I have both). Medication for both is the same and if you get the meds into you within the first 72 hours, it will halt the spread (usually).

Suffered with this since early childhood (about 8 yrs old). Other symptoms are (for me as well as others) extreme sensitivity to light, a feeling that your skin is alive, touch is unbareable, sometimes even warm bath water is unbareable) headache, sometime incapacitating, extreme fatigue. Pain that begins in the skin progresses to deep deep ache, sometimes just the reverse starting with the deep pain until the rash appears, then your skin is on fire.

My last bout, (4 weeks ago) was swift, deep pain, extreme light sensitivity, itch and then the rash that covered my entire left side from left butt, hip, midriff, breast, underarm, shoulder blades, over shoulder to collar bone, behind the ear, across my face and ended with a lesion in the corner of my eye. At first you see the actual nerve pathway like a road of red spider web that cut my body in half. To my knowledge, the pain and rash never ever croses to the other side of your body.

At Christmas time, it was one tiny lesion just at the side of the breast, but the pain covered the entire side of my body, and put me to bed for a week.

Have your doctor do the blood work, if you do have the big H or Shingles (yes it CAN come back again and again) get the prescription for Zovirax (brand name) and keep your prescription fresh and on hand. Take it at the first sign of any symptoms.

My mom took me from dr. to dr. for a million trips. The called my rash everything from hives, to allergies They all said "Children don't get Shingles" ....maybe Celiac Kids Do! Got my diagnosis when I was 30 years old after yet another dr. said it was "Cancer" and wanted a biopsy. The lesions at that time were on my face, so I went to see a plastic surgeon for the biopsy..he said, I don't know what this is, but I do know it is not cancer...he sent me to his friend at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Manhattan in NYC who he called the "Professor of Weird". Got my prescription that day!

I still struggle with these "diseases", because they can be sneaky, you can blow off a backache after raking the front lawn, a headache isn't always Shingles....and sometimes it is completely sneaky - catching you off guard, and Wham, you have it again with no warning. Even if you miss that "72" hour window, the medication, helps dramatically with the pain, shortens the duration of the breakout, and helps you recover much quicker. No medication can lead to weeks of illness and can leave you with Post-herpetic neuralgia that can last for years....so never skip the meds!

Good luck, not that I wish this on you, but doctors sometimes just don't ask the correct questions or actually examine you.

My Mom (age 78 at the time) was hospitalized for a "suspected heart attach" for 10 days. She was in agony with pain in her chest and back, she had crazy cardiograms etc. TheY fiddled with all her hear meds, and sent her home in as pain as she had 10 days before, with a diagnosis of Osteoporosis or costochondritis ....

When I helped her get out of her clothes to shower when I brought her home, her back (exactly one side from top shoulder to her knee) was covered in the Shingles rash. I called her Primary, IMMEDIATELY brought her over to his office, and he said "did they even bother to actually LOOK at her - this rash is at least two weeks in the making and yes, it is SHINGLES!...leave her meds they way they were before, and here is a prescription for Zovirax!

Not her heart, her brittle bones, nor costochondritis.......... Shingles. Ten days later she was itchy, and healing up nicely, with no-more-agony.

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Mimsy - I must thank you for this.  I had not thought that this would generate any more posts so sorry I haven't come back sooner.   The incredible thing my brother in law, a doctor of some 20 years standing, has also said he thinks I have had shingles, either the lesion has been overlooked or it was the type without a rash.   So I went to my own surgery for some Lyrica but was told by another doctor that it might be Tietze syndrome so they were reluctant to prescribe.  

 

Your answer has given me the confidence to push the shingles theory further as what you are talking about sounds very familiar.  As the pain/itch involves the breast it made me think that it might be inflammatory breast cancer at first but as the itching and pain has not been accompanied by further symptoms I wasn't so sure.  A few weeks ago I had lunch with my brother in law and he asked me how I was feeling and I told him about this deep itch and occasional dull pain and how it seems to be in a line down from my neck (I can even feel it sometimes in my throat) down my breast, under my arm, and around my back.   That's when he mentioned shingles sine herpete.  

 

Does tight clothing do this to you, Mimsy - if I wear a tight bra or tight waistband it seems to really generate itching right across the left side of my torso, a few inches above and below?  I vaguely recall having chicken pox as a child and I am sure this is how I felt, on bad days I look at myself in the mirror and am sure I will see a rash but there is nothing there.   :(  I wish there was, it would be easier to get the right medication. The itching is under the skin so I don't itch it - there is no point, it doesn't help!  

 

I have recently had a liver enzyme test, ferritin and full blood count test done.  That was all normal but I guess I need a specific shingles test.

 

If you read this I would love an answer to the question about tight clothing - but also, to say thank you so much... I feel I might be closer to solving this!

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On 3/23/2014 at 6:27 AM, cristiana said:

Thanks so much nvsmom - glad you haven't got costochondritis any more!  It doesn't sound nice.  One doctor thought I could have Tietze syndrome but then said, "I'm not sure that explains the itchiness".   I find it so hard dealing with uncertainty as I always imagine the worst.  If anyone else has had either condition and found it caused itchiness in their case I would love to hear.   It's the sort you can't scratch, it feels like something in my chest is irritated.

cristiana. ive gotten an itchy pain directly on my sternum and nowhere else for my whole life maybe around once a month. it feels likes it inside but i cant scratch it and it gets very itchy.

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An update for those interested - in case it helps.

Just to say that after about a year of the pain I described in my first post,  the pain dwindled and almost went.  At its worse I had itchy pain in my lef ribcage and also it started a few weeks later on my left hip area/sacroiliac joint/referring to groin.  One doctor said shingles without the rash.  Other doctors couldn't agree because I had the pain in two sites and they could see no rash to be sure of a diagnosis - but I lived to tell the tale so tried to forget about it!

About a year ago I had a celiac flare (cc/taking medicine with wheat in by mistake).  This flare caused a burning pain left of my stomach in the rib/sternum area, at the same time as the epigastric pain caused by thegluten.  

I've had an endoscopy about two months ago and all is back to normal again in my gut but the rib/sternum pain hasn't gone and again has startedto radiate out to my entire left ribs, under my left arm and round my back.  A horrible, just under skin-deep itch/sick feeling.  So I'm back to square one with my symptoms of four years ago.  In fact, worse than before. 

I also started to get sharp pains in my left pelvic area which I could not ignore so I went to my doctor who has finally found evidence of an internal shingles rash.   So I can only deduce that the pain in my ribs/sternum has been caused by either a new bout shingles without the rash or a return of my post herpetic neuralgia of four years ago - I have a huge amount of stress going on so maybe that is why.

I just thought I would post this in case anyone is going through the same unexplained pain in case it helps.

Now I'm trying to figure out what to do about the post hepetic neuralgia.

 

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5 hours ago, cristiana said:

An update for those interested - in case it helps.

Just to say that after about a year of the pain I described in my first post,  the pain dwindled and almost went.  At its worse I had itchy pain in my lef ribcage and also it started a few weeks later on my left hip area/sacroiliac joint/referring to groin.  One doctor said shingles without the rash.  Other doctors couldn't agree because I had the pain in two sites and they could see no rash to be sure of a diagnosis - but I lived to tell the tale so tried to forget about it!

About a year ago I had a celiac flare (cc/taking medicine with wheat in by mistake).  This flare caused a burning pain left of my stomach in the rib/sternum area, at the same time as the epigastric pain caused by thegluten.  

I've had an endoscopy about two months ago and all is back to normal again in my gut but the rib/sternum pain hasn't gone and again has startedto radiate out to my entire left ribs, under my left arm and round my back.  A horrible, just under skin-deep itch/sick feeling.  So I'm back to square one with my symptoms of four years ago.  In fact, worse than before. 

I also started to get sharp pains in my left pelvic area which I could not ignore so I went to my doctor who has finally found evidence of an internal shingles rash.   So I can only deduce that the pain in my ribs/sternum has been caused by either a new bout shingles without the rash or a return of my post herpetic neuralgia of four years ago - I have a huge amount of stress going on so maybe that is why.

I just thought I would post this in case anyone is going through the same unexplained pain in case it helps.

Now I'm trying to figure out what to do about the post hepetic neuralgia.

 

In my experience, costochondritis refers to inflammation of the cartilage attaching the ribs to the sternum. I haven't heard of itchiness as a symptom. (Costochondritis seems often to be a catchall for I don't know what you have but it's not a heart attack!) Anyway, have you talked to your doctor about vaccines? Once any lesions dry up, it may still be worth it to get the vaccine.

I'm sorry for what you're going through - it sounds awful.

I often check in with Dr Andrew Weil. Here's what he has to say about shingles (which he has had): https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/hair-skin-nails/shingles/

Plumbago

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Hi Plumbago

Thanks so much for your post and for your tips - and the link.

I must confess I am now a member of the "Go to Emergency with heart attack symptoms - leave with a DX of costochondritis" Club!  That happened to me back in February when I had some bad pain in my ribs.  At that time the cartilage between my ribs was very, very painful - so I can see why I'd be given that DX!

Now the pain is most peculiar, diffuse and nauseating but thankfully it isn't dreadful all the time.  It just comes in waves.  I find if I can be still and distract myself it passes quicker.

Dr Weil's link is really informative and has given me much to think about.  

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