Saturday, September 5, 2009

Costochondritis- Sleeping Tips

Okay, for those who are in the rocky, pain 'round the clock, boat with me, sleeping is a challenge. Here are a few tips, to use are your discretion, to aid in the healing process. That's right, I said healing. Do not give up on the hope that you will heal. Don't you dare! =)

1) Try to sleep on your back- this is helpful because you want to stretch out the ribs and chest muscles, not constrict them. (However, if you are just relaxing, I have found the most comfortable position is a 45 degree angle with pillows under the back an head...I feel pressure in my ribs when I lay flat on my back. So I only attempt it when I'm sleeping).
2) If you are a side sleeper, use a large pillow between your arms, don't let your arms cross over each other, causing that chest muscle to constrict.
3) When you are laying in bed, just watching TV or hanging out, take the arms and gently open them up, laying them out to your side with a pillow underneath each arm- open your chest up.
4) When you are hanging out in bed, put a pillow under your lower back, it will help keep your ribs and chest opened up.

I know that for many, sleep is very difficult. I spent 18 months sleeping about an hour at a time and would wake up to stabbing pain in my chest every time I remotely moved . It was awful. Once I shut down my personal training business and subsequently quit picking up the weights all day for clients, my sleeping slowly got better and recently I'm able to sleep on my back. Yeah...I'll never take that for granted again. =)


  1. Just have to say I'm hugely inspired by your posts. I have Tietze but the treatment is very similar. I'm living in the UK so my doctor's methods are different to those in America, but I am going to try a lot of your advice.

    I find rolling from side to side in bed helps massage and "open" my ribs up. Hurts but helps.

  2. Thank you for the encouragement about the blog- I really appreciate it!

    Hugs to you and hope you get better so soon!!

  3. Several of these have helped me but I found them by trial and error (sleeping holding a body pillow, for example) I just thought I was crazy, though, and this confirms that I am not! It also gives me some more ideas :)

  4. thank you so much for your blog

    i have had every symptom for hypochondria but when i had the doctor test it was negative and now the doctor doesnt believe i have it.

    i also suffer from costa (the doc agrees with this) but it just doesn't seem like there is any help for it anywhere- for the first month i felt like the only person in the world suffering from it

    i'm slowly (one day at a time) coming to terms with it and taking it slowly

    just happy to know there's someone else out there who feels my pain- God bless you

  5. I suffer from costo and have panic attacks at the same time i feel as if something bad is gonna happen cos of the pain

  6. Hi there! I was diagnosed with costo on 6/29/12. I thought I was going to loose it when the doc told me what was wrong with my body. I suffered all July and didn't believe what the doc had told me was true. I was back and forth at the doctors because ultimately I thought something was wrong with my heart. I went to urgent care appointments thinking something more needs to be done more test need to be ran. Right now I can't sleep because of the pain so what'd I do google costocondritis and found your website. I never thought about trying a sauna, walking or running to help relieve some of the symptoms. I will definitely look into doing that. I'm 28 years old, full time job, a new home owner, attend college part time, no children, I also attend church regularly. I had to stop singing in the choir for a while, because I would think it would put more of a strain on my chest and make this condition worse! :( I pray everyday for healing. I pray that everybody with costocondritis will be healed by God! I was told today that stress is a sin, and I found that this condition can be caused by stress. I thank you so much for sharing your experiences on this blog. Cheers to better health and healing of this stressful condition. I pray that God binds the condition and casts it back into the fiery pits of hell. God bless you all!

  7. Hi again! Also I forgot to mention a couple of important things....When I was first diagnosed the doc gave me anti inflammatory meds and pain meds. I found a that the pain medicine did not help at all. It just put me to sleep. I would take the anti inflammatory medicine and pain medicine at night before going to bed. I could not take the anti inflammatory medicine or pain medicine in the daytime because the effects of the medicine will put me to sleep. I was so scared, confused, and irritated that when I went to the last urgent care appointment I told the doctor I wanted to see a cardiologistst. I went to see a cardiologist earlier this month and that was the third confirmation I received that this is the condition that I have. He said my heart, and lungs were fine. Looking back in the month of July I found by taking the anti inflammatory medicine some what helped. Hot baths some what helped relieve some of the chest tightness that I was experiencing. I started to notice that I didn't need to take the pain killers because the pain subsided and became on and off instead of constant pain everyday. Its still painful to sleep some nights (including tonight)- or should I say this morning....I can't seem to fall back to sleep. The most hardest thing to deal with while experiencing the symptoms of this condition is that you feel like your having a mini heart attack, its painful to take *deep breaths and feels like your chest is on fire, heart is going to explode. :( This is one of the symptoms that made me feel like something was wrong with my heart/lungs?? There was slight depression as well because I didn't understand this condition right away, and was alittle distrought about the fact that some of the things that you used to do, may have to take a break from. Some of the things we take for granted everyday. Like lifting a case if water, picking up a child, lifting weights, or even taking out the trash. :( A couple questions that came to mind. Why is it not a good idea to sleep on your stomach? How long should you stay in the sauna for? If you start out by walking, or jogging lighly- about how long should you go for? Is it okay to sleep with a heating pad on your chest throughout the night? I've been eating a healthier diet too which is a great thing. :) Feel free to comment, give tips or what have you. Thank you for this oppurtunity to share with you.

    1. Hello I to am suffering with Costocondritis tonight I can't sleep d├ępression is slowly setting in because I feel the pain,I also have fibromayalgia in which was the reason I was exercising it seemed to help me now I don't know right now:/

  8. Nice to meet you all and be part of this discussion! First off, just wanted to let you know that we're all going through this condition together, you're not alone by any means and together we will all get through this!
    Just wanted to share my personal costo story, it all started one night in mid November. I was awoken to the worst possible feeling you can imagine (same as yours) heart palpitating, needle-like pain in my chest, burning sensation as well, needless to say I thought this was it! I lived in a smoker's house, and thought this was the cause of 28 years of living there. Due to a conflict of interest, no one in my family believed my pain (unless you're puking blood, no one really cares) ...the only person by my side 24/7 was my beautiful wife, who is a scientist and has good knowledge of biology obviously and how medications work. No one would help us, even doctor's were clueless, I spent so many days in sadness, hoping I would live 5 more years to spend with my wife, it was the most miserable time anyone could imagine. I was pushed around by doctors, until I said enough is enough and visited the ER. The doctors there discovered I had minor mitral valve prolapse, which explained my headaches as a child and fatigue as well, but didn't explain the swelling on my chest. Because of this "conflict of interest" at my home, even my aunt (a cardiologist) had trouble seeing me because she didn't want to start problems at home. Finally after my wife and I researched the symptoms on our own, we discovered costochondritis and NOT the mitral valve was giving me this terrible chest sensation. Both have very similar markings but my mitral valve has never regurgitated, so it was ruled out. My guess it that my body just flared, starting as bronchial swelling and finally leaving me with costochondritis (hell of a few months, I must say) ...but HERE is the good news. The swelling is almost completely gone, the pain practically never shows up and the remedies well, I've got some of my own.
    -Cardio, sounds funny but the more you keep your heart pumping the better it's been for the pain and swelling TRUST ME, just lay off heavy lifting and weights also NO push ups. Try running, biking, tennis, a lot of movement is good just don't over do it if you start to feel bad.

    -Change your lifestyle, IF YOU SMOKE, QUIT!!!! Try healthier foods like greens and fruits, whole fruits or 100% juice drinks (read labels, don't be fooled). Eat anti-inflammatory foods as shown here:

    -Sleeping, this will be a pain but the "pillow method" stated above by the original author should work, if not do as I do and cuddle with your wife to avoid stress on your chest. It's hard for me to lie on my back so this has been the only thing to help me sleep, also this is where the workout comes in handy. Costo will make your heart race and give you depression, so the workout will help you sleep easier and more relaxed.

    -Stay away from harmful pollutants like SMOKE #1 cause for me, and other toxic inhalants to avoid more unnecessary swelling!

    -Biggest tip: STAY POSITIVE, this will help your mind, heart and sleeping schedule, everything will be fine soon, just breathe and listen to soothing music, watch good movies and be happy it's a relatively minor thing we have! You're still ALIVE, plenty of time to re-evaluate your life and start living it up! I LOVE YOU, no I'm not religious, but I feel your pain (literally) we're all going to be fine soon! <3

    Cheers to you all! -J

    1. Love this post! Thanks!

    2. Thanks so much I'm going thru same thing

  9. I just wanted to say THANK YOU for saving my life last night. I was diagnosed two weeks ago with costochondritis and the doctor simply said it was an inflammation of the cartilage. He did not tell me what a full attack?/episode? (idk what to call it) was like. All I had experienced until last night was a pain in the left of my chest and rib pain which ice and laying down have helped. My costo came on as a result of excessive coughing due to exposure to bleach (I go into anaphylactic shock if I breathe in even a faint amount.) I have injured my ribs repetitively over the years because I love extreme sports and played sports all through school. I never felt the pain that I just did though. Wow..

    Last night about 1130 I woke up in absolutely horrible pain and thought I was having a heart attack. The pain was so bad that all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball but when I tried turning on my side, the pain only intensified. I was contemplating a trip to the emergency room after I noticed a bulge in the lower part of my sternum. Everything hurt-breathing, moving, etc. After four hours of ice and changing positions did not help I punched in "sleeping with costochondritis" as a last resort and thankfully your blog was the first one that I read.

    I managed to get out of bed and started trying to walk through the house. It felt good and the pain subsided until I tried getting back into bed. I looked again and found the hint about laying with your arms out to your side and on pillows in order to open your ribs up. At this point it was 4.5 hours into this ordeal but within 20 minutes of trying that position the pain relieved and I fell right to sleep.

    Thank you ever so much! I had no idea costo could be this painful. Does anyone have tips on ways to deal with the cold? I live near Buffalo and our windchills have been -10 for the week. The cold outside makes my chest tighten. I wear fleeces and have even gone out in layers of shirts but this still happens. Any suggestions will be gratefully taken into consideration.

    My thoughts are with anyone who has or is suffering with Costo

  10. Hello
    I've been living with Costco for the past 5 years. When I first had a flare up I literally thought I was dying. I went to multiple doctors and no one could tell me
    What was wrong. I had X-rays and a cat scan and they still couldnt find anything . After months of suffering the pain finally subsided. Exactly one yerba later the familiar shooting pains started again and gave me terrible anxiety since I thought I was suffering from a mysterious incurable disease. After seeing the 7th new doctor I was finally diagnosed. That doctor recommended taking naproxen ( Aleve) at the onset of symptoms. It can help prevent further inflammation . Now when I start to feel that familiar stabbing, I immediately take aleve and Tylenol. I also found that putting a thermacare heat wrap on my back in between my shoulder blades helps with the pain. I also recommend rubbing tiger balm from just under your collar bone to the center of your chest. It feels a little funny at first but it helps me get through the night. Hope that helps some of you! :)

    1. I'm glad to know that you feel better now. I've been suffering from Knee Osteoarthritis, this could be the reason I felt pain below the chest bone and ribs. Its very Mild for now. Comes and goes like a Sharp Wave. Can I get rid of it completely?

  11. i been looking for sleep positions with my costo, thanx!

  12. Just wanted to say thank you for this blog.

  13. Hi i am also suffering from costochondritis. It's been two weeks since i started having back and left chest needle like pain. I have so many sleepless nights because i cannot find a sleeping position that will not trigger the stabbing pain. Thank you for this blog. I will try the laying your arms out in the side with pillows. Godbless you all.

  14. Hello!
    I'm a 16 year old girl who suffers of costochondritis. I kept feeling pain whenever I inhaled deeply ever since two weeks ago. Went to the ER, they didn't see anything wrong with me. Heart rate was fine, urinary analysis was fine as well, everything was in order. It kept bugging me, so I went to ny actual doctor. She said everything seemed fine and that it might be constipation or gas so she recommended a laxative, but still did tests to make sure I was fine; took three blood tests, a urinary analysis, and a sonogram. They were all fine. During all this, I had around 6 major panick attacks and a few minor ones; I have OCD and worry a lot about health and even the smallest thing will make me worry about my health. I thought I was dying. I thought I could have different types of cancer, I thought I was on the verge of a heart attack (and nearly went back to the ER), etc etc. Today, I went to the cardiologist and he finally diagnosed me with costo. I'm extremely relieved to finally know what it is that has been bugging me and making me feel so bad. I'm also relieved I haven't experienced anything as bad as many people have, such as intense chest pains and burning sensations. I do want to know: Are chest tightness and choking sensations part of costo? I've experienced a lot of that. My dad insists it's just stress and panic, but I don't know. Thank you so much!

    1. The tightness and choking are definitely stress and panic symptoms. Stress causes Costo so try your best to Relax a bit. You're 16. Eat healthy and stay active and you'll be fine.

  15. I have costo chondritis and after a week it has gotten worse and i cant sleep at night, im a mum and a musoc teacher its really difficult to explain to people when i start grabbing my chest in an episode of pain that a contraction and brings me to tears! Last night i had to arrange my pillows at a certain angle so o.could get a few more hours, i cant pick up my 1 year old it worse, normally when i have an issue it gets better after a few days but this seems to be getting worse! My husband is really worried. It eas great your blogs guys

  16. Everyone's input is very helpful and inspiring! I know there are some things i have to change in my life to start feeling better. I have never had to deal with this kind of anxiety before in my life. I have also heard that it is possible that Costochondritis never heals...?

  17. Anyone hear of the Backpod from a guy named Steve August. Seems very successful for costo. I just ordered one. Some id's on YouTube.

  18. I enjoyed reading your article :) PLease continue publishing helpful topics like this. Regards, from beddingstock.

  19. This really helps thanks a lot. Costochondritis is awful. Mine seems to be getting worse ive had it for over a year now finally getting diagnosed with it.

  20. I suffer with costo and am so happy to have found this blog... it is the worst pain that I have ever had... I have been using pillows to help me manage to get a little sleep for a few months now, but happy to see some other ways of using them also... I don't know how many times I have taken myself to emergency for all the pain I endure thinking it's my heart,... I have had ekgs, chest xrays and cardio blood workups done and everything always comes back normal...the pain, it's so awful at times that I just don't know what to do to make it stop... I can't take naproxen etc too much because I am on blood pressure meds and stomach meds for gerd and naproxen,aleve and such meds like that are hard on the stomach... I don't even know what caused this costo to develop either... sorry for everyone who suffers with this also but happy I found others who know, feel and can understand what I am going through as a lot of ppl don't and they can't understand why I am always in pain and sometimes I think they don't believe me as always get the you don't look sick face from them...

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  22. Is anyone still here? I’m dealing with something that sounds like Costochondritis but I haven’t been diagnosed.

  23. I think I'm in the same boat with you, tried chiropractic, massages, had xrays, blood work, heart tests done and nothing has turned up a problem and the treatments aren't helping. I now have anxiety and never used to. I am a very active person so always being in pain and no health professionals willing to look into what is going on is starting to really get me down

  24. This is my second bout with costo in 4 years. For me it is aggravated by stress. The first event was diagnosed after several trips to the ER and all other conditions were excluded. After several months it went away but I knew it was back this past month when the pain in my chest and back on the left side only was prominent when I took large inhales and exhales and it felt painful to touch. I started taking naproxen and ibuprophen at night and drinking more water, but the lack of sleep is very frustrating! I'm a high school science teacher and a before and after school program coordinator so I do a lot of running around and toting equipment and supplies and today I was the substitute fitness teacher. Needless to say REST really is a real need to winning this battle. Doing all those sports activities has left me with a burning chest ibuprophen hasn't touched. It's 2:45 am and I'm going to try your pillow technique! Thank you for making this blog possible!

  25. New to this costohope site. I am 73 and have had a-Fib for several years. Recent exacerbation of aFib led me to my third cardioversion in 6 years. Had immediate pain at site of anterior (shock) pad placement. Pain mainly related to leaning over, stretching arms forward, sudden upper body movements, etc. Site pain changed and lessened daily thru week following cardioversion. Then I vigorously vacumned my floors prior to a family gathering. Bingo, that’s when the costal nerves got involved and it has been downhill from there.
    I am a nurse practitioner, suspected what was going on, but explaining it to the Cardiology folks was difficult, because they had to rule out any cardiac involvement. Had a Chest CT yesterday and heart, lungs, esophagus are fine. Lying down flat on the CT table, the pits!
    As you all know, getting in and out of the horizontal position and sleeping are the biggest challenges. There truly is immediate anticipatory fear of the muscle/nerve spasm pain you know you are going to experience. I’m only 3 days in and praying for an end to it soon.
    Your pillow and sleep position suggestions are great and will try all suggestions.
    My trick now is sitting on a backless ottoman on firm pillows so my knees are level with my hips. Arms down at sides resting or pushing on ottoman. I very slowly sit up straight and stretch my head up to look up at ceiling, shoulders rolling back to open up chest. Hold non-painful position as long as possible to stretch as you go.
    Thanks for your help, it truly takes a village.