COSTOCHONDRITIS, HERBS and ESSENTIAL OILS
Costochondritis is an inflammation of the costochondral or costosternal joint i.e. junction where upper ribs join with the cartilage which holds them to sternum (breastbone), resulting in pushing cartilage in the front of ribcage. This inflammation of costochondral junction causes pain, tenderness and discomfort in the chest. The most common site of pain is close to the sternum, at the level of 4th, 5th and 6th ribs. Women are more prone to develop Costochondritis. Elderly people are more affected. However, even the young are inflicted. My daughter’s symptoms started around the age of 14.
In most cases there is no apparent cause, but in few cases causes reported are: • Stress. • Strenuous exercises • Sudden trauma to the chest • Viral respiratory infection • Bacterial infection in few cases • Fibromyalgia • Surgery of upper chest. • Ankylosingspondylitis • Arthritis • Overuse injury in athletes. • Joints infection (tuberculosis, syphilis)
Not knowing what is generating such intense pain is scary. I’m I having a heart attack or panic attack? Let’s look at the signs and symptoms:
• Sharp pain located on front of chest, may radiate to back or abdomen. • Pain over the fourth to sixth ribs. • Pain on coughing • Tenderness • Anxiety due to chest pain • Difficulty moving trunk or breathing. • High fever • Signs of infection • Nausea, vomiting • Sweating • More than one rib is involved. • Inflammation accompanied with redness, swelling or pus discharge.
Some complications that can occur are
• Infection may spread to blood.
• Fever or abscess formation may be possible
When you see your physician, some of the exams and tests they may run can include the following to rule out more serious health threatening diseases:
• Complete case history • Physical examination • Chest X-Ray • ECG in some cases to rule out other possible causes
There are various treatments physicians will offer for Costochondritis but some can be either ineffective or cause other health issues.
• Analgesics • Antibiotics • Anti-depressant • Anticoagulant • Narcotics
So let’s look at alternative treatments offered that has been successful in treating it this painful disease.
Homeopathic and Herbal Treatment: Note: Any herb can have side effects. Research so you understand these side effects or consult an herbalist for further advice.
Ranunculus bulbous: Acts especially upon the muscular tissue and skin, and its most characteristic effects are upon the chest walls, like pleurodynia. Works for: • Pain and soreness, as if the sternum, ribs, intercostal spaces and both hypochondria are bruised. • Intercostal rheumatism. • Chilliness in the chest when walking in open air. • Stitches in the chest, between shoulder blades. • Rheumatic pains in chest. • Tenderness of the abdomen on pressure. • Worse in open air, inspiring, moving
Bryonia alba: Acts on all serous membranes and the viscera they contain. Aching in every muscle. • Broken ribs. • Pains stitching, burning and stabbing. • Pain worse with slightest motion. • Heals sprains that are excruciating.
Arnica Montana: This herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that is used in treating a wide variety of musculoskeletal problems. This herb may be beneficial in treating pain in your joints, muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues. Various parts of the arnica plant contain flavonoids and essential oils that are used in herbal medicines. • Sports or traumatic injuries. • Limbs and body ache, as if beaten • Bed feels too hard to lie on. • Sore lame, bruised feeling. • Rheumatism of muscular and tendinous tissues, especially the back and shoulders.
Oleander-nerium odorum: Has a marked action on the skin, heart and nervous system, producing and curing paralytic conditions with cramp-like contractions of upper extremities. Hemiplegia. Difficult articulation. • Oppression as if from a weight. • Asthmatic when lying down. • Palpitations, with weakness and empty feeling in the chest. • Obtuse stitches in the chest
Other herbs to look at for inflammation include but not limited are Ginger Root, Goldenseal, Echinacea, Valerian Root, St. Johns Root and Grape Seed Extract.
Essential oils work well. They consist of Small molecular weight that can go through all layers of skin and can go all the way through to the bloodstream. Warm clean skin works fastest. Essential oils can take as little as 20 minutes to an hour to be in blood stream but, depending on the oil, can take up to 2 hours. Essential oils should be blended with a carrier oil. Some suggestions are Jojoba, Coconut, and Sweet Almond, although the list is more extensive.
There are a lot of Essential oils that have anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic properties. Rosemary, Lavender, Helichrysum, Spike Lavender, Juniper, Lemon, Peppermint, Lavender, Cypress, Cedarwood, Lemon, Palmorosa, German Chamomile to name a few. Some work on pain, some work on inflammation. But my favorite Essential oils for such pain and inflammation is Conifers. These oils don't mess around. They are a deep treatment to ease discomfort and work remarkably well. Here I share my anti-inflammatory, acute injury cream:
In my studies I have learned also that inflammation comes from the nerves. Nerve endings attached to the muscles. When the nerves are not functioning correctly or are damaged, inflammation in the muscles can occur. We can massage and treat these muscles which helps to relax them and I do massage therapy often for my Fibromyalgia. However, if we don’t touch the nerves, we are only relieving the symptoms, not addressing the cause. By massaging the nerves and insuring they are working correctly, we are treating the inflammation more effectively.
Diet and management of the body plays a big part in the treatment as well. By removing stress in our lives and avoiding foods that can also cause inflammation, it assist in the healing process.
• Rest • Yoga and meditation • Mild exercise • Heat or icing may also relieve symptoms 15 minute rotation • Proper medication (Including Alternative treatment such as homeopathic, herbs and essential oils) • Nerve stimulation therapy is very important • Gentle shrug and rotating shoulders helps in healing. • Avoid tight clothing • Stress management techniques • Counseling may help a bit in improvement process • Avoid smoking and alcohol • Avoid fatty and spicy food
Prognosis if Costochondritis is generally very good. Most of the cases recover within 6-8 weeks after proper treatment. By 6 months complete recovery is reported, in very rare cases condition may return. The prognosis of costochondritis is very good if treatment is started at early stage.
Hugs, Rehne Burge, Certified Aromatherapist.