Saturday, October 10, 2009

Costochondritis- Blame the Underwire Bra?

If you are having pain in your chest/ribs due to the underwire bra you wear and you're wondering if you have Costochondritis...check out the symptoms post for more info. But yes, pain from wearing a bra in your front ribs under the breasts is a road sign of Costo. However, if that's your only sign, that's great!! Get diagnosed, get a different bra and don't lift heavy objects for a while and you may be good to go soon!

For those already diagnosed....We all know that wearing a bra is no bueno. The following article is tedious and a bit wordy, but helpful in
explaining the details of Costochondritis. It's written by David S. Klein. He claims the under wire bra is responsible for some cases of Costo. Are you still wearing one?

"In our well recognized spare time, it pays tremendous dividends for the practitioner to re-examine the anatomy of the skeletal chest wall. This anatomic review reveals a complicated matrix of joints, some are bone to bone, others are bone to cartilage, and some are cartilage to cartilage. Each of these joints can be jammed, jolted or otherwise damaged with physical activity, coughing or external trauma. Review of the anatomy demonstrates the predominance of bone-cartilage joints in the anterior thorax, in the area surrounding the heart. Cartilage-cartilage joints form the inferior costal margin, over the viscera. Injured with forced extension of the arm, these joints can be injured with blunt trauma to the chest, they are vulnerable with motor-vehicle mishaps, and they are vulnerable to injuries sustained with lifting, slips, and falls.

The joints of the rib cage are innervated by branches of the anterior cutaneous branches of the Intercostal Nerves, the lateral cutaneous branches of the Intercostal Nerves as well as through autonomic nerves that accompany the many vascular elements within the area.

Careful physical examination will nearly always demonstrate which of these joints in the anterior chest wall has become damaged or dysfunctional, resulting in the complaint of chest pain.

Symptoms of inflammation of the costochondral joints include pain in the anterior chest and arm, aching under the breast, feeling ‘as if it were a heart attack.’ This pain is autonomically modulated. The stabbing, intermittent, knife-like pain is usually somatically modulated. It is common for the patient to be unable to assist in the precise location of the pathology.

The precise symptoms will differ significantly due to the factors that impart physical stress or move the joint, and the symptoms are different due to the peculiar innervation of these joints. When these joints are damaged, they become inflamed, as expected in any joint present in the body. When damaged, the resulting pain is modulated partly through the Intercostal Nerves, but also through the Autonomic Nervous System, resulting in referred pain patterns that can be similar or identical to cardiogenic pathology. This is the obvious clinical challenge. Because the innervation of these joints is largely autonomic in nature, symptoms are most often vague, dull and aching in nature.

More and more common in clinical practice women are presenting with self-inflicted Costochondritis. Unwise clothing options can damage these delicate joints, as well as damage the nerve fibers that innervate the joints. Under-wire bras are often to blame. Once used chiefly by large women, this type of garment is now much more commonly encountered in the general female population." -David S. Klein

I know the bra didn't cause my costo. But it really ticks it off, so I abstain.

However, If you are looking for a bra to wear with Costochondritis due to the pain you feel in your chest- you can check out a few options HERE.


  1. Great article! Bras are not fun :P How did you get your costo?

  2. I got mine from weightlifting. =( How about you?

  3. PS- glad you like the article, I too thought he did a good job. More info on our conditions is always a plus.

  4. It's funny (well, not really), but I was wondering about my underwire bra just the other day. I really love the way it fits/looks and I hate to have to go through finding another kind. It may be worth the hassle though! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cee Cee, I'm with you!! I love my old bras and hate going sans bra. Ahh!! I think we should submit ourselves to the show "What not to wear" so they can do outfits for those of us who can't wear one- lol!

    But yes, it may be worth looking into- I am in tons more pain with the bra than without. ARG!

  6. Especially difficult for us who are cursed with oversized ta-tas. Mine were normal until I passed 36, then they grew disproportionately. Underwires were a necessity. I now have an excellent bra I found at Lane Bryant which replaces underwires with a wide comfortable band. And they're cotton blend, so absorb the pain-sweat which I haven't been able to control except by inaction. I still limit wearing to a few hours a day.

    I actually came to the conclusion a while back that a major contributor to the development of costo (primary is my fibromyalgia) was the minimizer bras I wore for so many years. I do still have one bra that has plastic underwires and molded cups so that the pressure points are limited. (Would those be underplastics?)

    I sneezed yesterday. Ouch.

  7. Glad you found a good bra!! So interesting about the minimizer bra.

    I just ordered a bra from'll let everyone know how it does!

    Thanks for sharing! I hear ya on the sneezing, it HURTS!!! OUCH!

  8. Thanks for your blog. I'm not technically diagnosed but have been reading up a lot about costo. Had no idea my bra could be a cause but I am always complaining about how much it hurts! Thank you for all the info

  9. I discovered that the wire in my bra was hurting me. I cut a hole and pulled the wire out.

  10. I discovered that the wire in my bra was hurting me. I cut a hole and pulled the wire out.

  11. this certainly helps to explain my long-term chest pain near the right breast. my bra is too constricting. thanks!

  12. I WISH I could stop wearing them. I'm small-boned and I'm still in high school. It would be kind of awkward not to wear one but it hurts so badly and I don't like a lot of pressure on my bones anyway bc they are sensitive but I still have to carry a book bag almost as big as myself. So I really don't know what to do.

  13. I have been injured twice, and both times I swore it was the pain was in the shape of my underwire bra. The latest incident occurred on a roller coaster. The force of a turn threw me into the wall of the seat and the pain shot through my breast. I felt that underwire on impact. The first time it happened I was being helped down off a platform and my husband put his hands under each arm and when he lifted me down, his thumb was on the underwire. I almost fainted with pain.

  14. went to the doc with pain- he ordered ultrasound thinking it might be gall bladder pain and was ready to do surgery, did not find anything so told me I had cost-o. A year later and I still have pain, but noted it is relieved when I change positions, so I am guessing it is the stupid underwires, which lead me to find this web page...I think you all have confirmed my suspicions!