Tietze's disease Symptoms and treatments

Tietze’s disease Symptoms and treatments


Tietze’s disease Symptoms and treatments. Tietze’s disease, also known as Tietze syndrome or (not quite rightly so) costochondritis, is a disease of the cartilage of the ribs. The connection between the ribs and the sternum is irritated or inflamed, and quite painful. The condition is harmless and can occur at any age.

In Tietze’s syndrome, the inflammation is at the front of the ribs. Costochondritis is often used as a synonym for Tietze syndrome, but it is a different condition. In costochondritis, the cartilage at the back of the ribs is inflamed.

Symptoms of Tietze’s disease

Tietze syndrome can be recognized by pain in the chest that can radiate to the shoulder. Usually, the pain is very localized and can be pointed out with one finger. Often there is swelling just next to the sternum that is sometimes red and can feel warm. If you press on this area, the pain will increase. If no swelling is visible, there is usually a sore spot somewhere. You can discover such a spot by pressing your fingers along the edges of the sternum.

The pain symptoms get worse when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or sigh. The pain and any swelling are gradual or sudden and can last for months to years.

How does Tietze syndrome develop?

The cause of Tietze’s syndrome is unknown. In some cases, it is caused by certain activities, such as building a garden or painting the house. A cold in which you cough a lot and for a long time can also trigger the disease. This also applies to a fall, blow, or impact to the chest. The cartilage between the breastbone and ribs then becomes locally irritated and starts to hurt or swell, and inflammation develops.

Is it serious and what can you expect?

Tietze syndrome is completely harmless and usually goes away on its own. This can take days, months, or years. There are various treatments, the effect of which varies from person to person. The fact that the syndrome is harmless does not mean that it gives a few complaints.

When to go to the doctor?

The symptoms of Tietze’s syndrome can sometimes be very similar to those of heart and lung problems, but this is certainly not always the case.

Tietze syndrome is a syndrome that is generally difficult to diagnose with certainty. Often your doctor will first rule out various disorders and thus come to a possible determination of your clinical picture.

It is advisable to make an appointment with your general practice if:

  • you have a high fever
  • you cough and vomit a lot of mucus
  • you are short of breath
  • you feel faint, nauseated, sweaty or dizzy
  • the pain does not lessen when you sit quietly
  • the pain radiates continuously to the left shoulder
  • you have other complaints that worry you

What can you do about it yourself?

If you have Tietze’s syndrome, there are a number of things you can do to help reduce symptoms.


The inflammation heals best when your body is rested. Therefore avoid vigorous physical activities and abrupt movements. If you have to cough a lot without vomiting a lot of mucus, you can get tablets or capsules for coughing from the pharmacy.


The pain in Tietze’s syndrome can be very severe. You can safely take a painkiller. Most suitable are painkillers that also inhibit inflammation. Some of these are available without a prescription. You can obtain information about this at the pharmacy or drugstore. Read the instructions before use.


Warm or cold compresses can reduce pain. You can try out what you like best. You can make cold compresses, for example, by wetting a sanitary napkin or a number of tissues, placing them in a plastic bag, and allowing them to freeze in the freezer. When using, make sure to protect the skin against freezing. You can make a warm compress by placing a hot water bottle against the painful area. Just make sure it is not too hot and closed properly.

General advice and precautions for Tietze’s disease

In most cases, Tietze’s syndrome cannot be prevented.

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