skeleton with chostochondritis

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Imagine feeling a sharp, stabbing pain in your chest that makes you worry about a heart attack. Surprisingly, this common yet alarming symptom often points to a lesser-known condition called costochondritis. Affecting millions, costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects your ribs to your sternum, causing discomfort and anxiety for many.

Causes of Costochondritis

Costochondritis can result from various factors, including:

coughing man on grey couch feeling costochondritis pain

  1. Trauma or Injury: Direct trauma to the chest, such as from a car accident or a fall, can lead to inflammation of the costal cartilage.

  2. Physical Strain: Repetitive physical activities or heavy lifting can strain the chest muscles and cartilage, causing inflammation.

  3. Infections: Certain infections, particularly those affecting the upper respiratory tract, can lead to costochondritis.

  4. Arthritis: Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis can cause inflammation in the cost sternal junction.

  5. Unknown Causes: In many cases, the exact cause of costochondritis remains unidentified.

Symptoms of Costochondritis

The primary symptom of costochondritis is chest pain, which can range from mild to severe. This pain is typically:

  • Localized: Pain is often felt in the front of the chest, particularly where the ribs meet the sternum.

  • Sharp or Aching: The pain may be sharp and stabbing or a dull, aching discomfort.

  • Worsened by Movement: Activities that involve upper body movement, deep breathing, or coughing can exacerbate the pain.

  • Tenderness: Pressing on the affected area usually reproduces the pain, which is a key diagnostic feature.

Diagnosis of Costochondritis

  • Palpate the Chest: Press on the cost sternal junction to check for tenderness and pain.

  • Review Symptoms: Discuss the patient's symptoms, their onset, and any recent activities or injuries that might be related.

  • Rule Out Other Conditions: Since chest pain can be associated with heart issues, tests like an electrocardiogram (ECG), chest X-rays, or blood tests may be conducted to exclude other causes.

Treatment Options

Treatment for costochondritis focuses on relieving pain and inflammation. Common approaches include:

  • Medications:

    • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs): Medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce inflammation and pain.

    • Pain Relievers: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen may be recommended for managing discomfort.

  • Physical Therapy:

    • Stretching and Strengthening Exercises: Specific exercises can improve flexibility and strengthen the chest muscles, reducing strain on the costal cartilage.

    • Heat or Ice Therapy: Applying heat or ice packs to the affected area can alleviate pain and inflammation.

    • Rest and Activity Modification: Avoiding activities that exacerbate the pain and allowing the chest to rest can promote healing.

    • Injections: In severe cases, corticosteroid injections directly into the affected area may be used to reduce inflammation.

Managing Costochondritis: Lifestyle and Home Remedies

In addition to medical treatment, certain lifestyle changes and home remedies can help manage costochondritis:

  • Ergonomic Adjustments: Ensuring proper posture and using ergonomic furniture can minimize strain on the chest.

  • Gradual Physical Activity: Gradually increasing the intensity of physical activities can prevent overuse injuries.

  • Stress Management: Practicing stress-relief techniques such as yoga or meditation can help reduce muscle tension and associated pain.

  • Dietary Considerations: Maintaining a balanced diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, can support overall health and reduce inflammation.

How The Therapy Network Can Help

The Therapy Network (TTN) provides specialized physical therapy services to help manage and treat costochondritis. Their experienced physical therapists offer:

  • Individualized Treatment Plans: Customized exercise programs to strengthen the chest muscles and improve flexibility, reducing strain on the costal cartilage.

  • Manual Therapy Techniques: Hands-on techniques to alleviate pain and improve mobility in the chest area.

  • Patient Education: Guidance on proper posture, ergonomic adjustments, and activities to avoid to prevent exacerbation of symptoms.

  • Convenient Access to Care: With multiple locations and flexible scheduling, TTN ensures easy access to appointments, allowing for timely and consistent treatment.

For more information and to book an appointment, visit The Therapy Network.

When to Seek Medical Attention

While costochondritis is generally a benign condition, it is essential to seek medical attention if you experience:

  • Severe or Worsening Pain: If the chest pain is severe or progressively worsening, it is crucial to consult a healthcare provider.

  • Difficulty Breathing: Any difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath should be evaluated by a medical professional.

  • Symptoms of Heart Problems: If chest pain is accompanied by symptoms such as dizziness, sweating, or pain radiating to the arm or jaw, seek emergency medical care as these could indicate a heart-related issue.


Costochondritis is a common cause of chest pain that, while often alarming, is typically manageable with appropriate treatment and self-care. Understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and following a comprehensive treatment plan can significantly improve quality of life for those affected by this condition. If you suspect you have costochondritis or are experiencing persistent chest pain, consult a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation and personalized treatment plan.

By staying informed and proactive in managing costochondritis, individuals can effectively alleviate their symptoms and maintain an active, healthy lifestyle.

For more detailed information and additional resources on costochondritis, visit trusted medical websites such as Mayo Clinic or WebMD.

metal bar therapy across female quad

Are you dealing with pain, stiffness, or movement limitations? Physical therapists have many ways to help, and one technique gaining popularity is Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM), also known as the Graston Technique. Let’s explore how this innovative method can help you feel better and move more freely.

What is IASTM/Graston Technique?

steel graston tools on gray background

IASTM uses specialized stainless-steel instruments to target and treat soft tissues like muscles, fascia, and tendons. During the session, the therapist glides the instruments over the affected area, creating micro-trauma that kickstarts your body's natural healing process. Don’t let “micro-trauma” scare you because this is a good thing! A breakdown of scar tissue and adhesions can lead to significant improvements in tissue recovery. While you might feel some mild discomfort during treatment, it’s manageable and part of the process. It’s not painful, but you may experience mild soreness or bruising, which typically resolves within a few days. But don’t worry, soreness and bruising are completely normal—they are signs of your body’s healing response!

How Can IASTM Help You?

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) is a versatile tool that addresses various musculoskeletal issues. Here’s how it can make a difference:

  • Chronic Pain Relief: Suffering from persistent pain in your neck, back, shoulders, or knees? IASTM can help reduce pain and inflammation by creating controlled micro-trauma to the tissues which triggers a healing response.

  • Post-Surgery Recovery: Surgery can leave behind scar tissue that limits mobility. IASTM helps break down these adhesions, improving your range of motion and enhancing the quality and flexibility of soft tissues.

  • Sports Injuries: Whether it's a sprain, strain, or other athletic injury, IASTM promotes healing and speeds up recovery. It breaks down adhesions, increases blood flow, releases tight muscles, and enhances tissue flexibility.

  • Muscle Tightness and Trigger Points: IASTM targets tight muscles and painful trigger points, helping you move with ease. By releasing tension and improving blood flow, it reduces discomfort and enhances mobility.

Common Injuries That Benefit From IASTM:

  • Tendinitis:

    • Achilles Tendinitis

    • Patellar Tendinitis (Jumper's Knee)

    • Rotator Cuff Tendinitis

  • Plantar Fasciitis:

    • Inflammation of the plantar fascia causing heel pain.

  • Myofascial Pain Syndrome:

    • Chronic pain disorder is when pressure on sensitive points (trigger points) in the muscles causes pain.

  • Scar Tissue and Adhesions:

    • Post-surgical scars or injury-related adhesions.

  • Shin Splints:

    • Medial tibial stress syndrome causes pain along the shinbone.

  • IT Band Syndrome:

    • Inflammation of the iliotibial band causes pain on the outer side of the knee.

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:

    • Compression of the median nerve causes pain and numbness in the hand and fingers.

  • Chronic Ankle Sprains:

    • Recurrent ankle sprains lead to chronic pain and instability.

  • Golfers' and Tennis Elbow:

    • Medial and lateral epicondylitis causes pain in the elbow.

  • Cervical Pain:

    • Neck pain due to muscle tension or soft tissue restrictions.

  • Lower Back Pain:

    • Often due to muscle tightness, fascial restrictions, or scar tissue.

  • Bursitis:

    • Inflammation of the bursa, such as in the shoulder, hip, or knee.

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization helps by breaking down scar tissue, improving blood flow, reducing pain, and promoting healing in these conditions.

Watch this IASTM treatment in action! Therapist Mandi Dowdy, PT, DPT, Cert. MDT is using IASTM on Plantar Fasciitis patient, Faith. See how she glides the instrument over the lower leg and locates a trigger point. She then focuses on this point to break down tightness and knots. After the session, Faith walked away feeling more length in her calf and plantar fasciitis tendon.

Enhancing Your Therapy with Manual Techniques

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization is just one versatile tool in a comprehensive physical therapy plan. Combining IASTM with other manual therapy techniques like massage, joint mobilizations, and stretching can lead to even better results. This holistic approach helps you manage pain, improve function, and prevent future injuries.
Curious if IASTM could help you? Talk to your physical therapist! They’ll evaluate your needs and determine if this technique is suitable for your specific condition.

Partner with The Therapy Network for Your Healing Journey

Discover more about Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM) and other transformative physical therapy techniques at The Therapy Network, where we're dedicated to empowering and educating you to achieve your best health.


As a Direct Access provider, you can start your journey to recovery at The Therapy Network without a physician referral. Call us today at 757-496-3700 or visit our website to schedule your appointment. Take control of your health and experience the transformative power of effective physical therapy!

red canoe on lake


Physical therapy is more than a path to injury recovery; it's vital to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness. Understanding and utilizing physical therapy's role in a comprehensive wellness program is essential in a world that moves at a breakneck pace.

The Dynamic Role of Physical Therapy in Wellness:

Physical therapy, a multifaceted profession, offers numerous applications to promote optimal physical function and overall well-being. It includes diagnosing and managing movement dysfunction, restoring and promoting optimal physical function, and preventing impairments and disabilities. For more information on the broad range of treatment methods offered by The Therapy Network, visit our Treatment Methods page.

Starting Your Wellness Program:

Ensuring your body is as ready as your mind for a wellness program is crucial. The Therapy Network provides comprehensive health screening and professional evaluations to tailor a plan that suits your specific needs. Check out our Manual Therapy services to learn more.

Recovery vs. Wellness in Physical Therapy:

While many recognize physical therapy's benefits in post-injury or surgery recovery, its role in a wellness program is often less known. The Therapy Network's wellness program, outlined on our Wellness/Fitness page, focuses on physical therapy, nutrition, and motivation, tailored to individual health and wellness goals.

The Therapy Network in Coastal Virginia:

As a leader in health and wellness in coastal Virginia, The Therapy Network offers unparalleled access to expert care, innovative treatment methods, and flexible payment options. With convenient locations across Hampton Roads, we ensure quality care is always within reach. Find the nearest clinic and learn about our approach on our Locations page.


Physical therapy is a cornerstone in the journey towards a healthier lifestyle. The Therapy Network is dedicated to being your partner every step of the way. Don't hesitate to take control of your wellness journey. Visit our Contact Us page to schedule an appointment and start your path to a healthier, happier you.

three people on bench looking down at cell phone with tech neck

How many hours are you looking down at your phone and scrolling? Is social media the cause of your neck pain (tech neck)? Did you know there is a direct correlation between hours of scrolling and neck, shoulder, and back pain? Add in sitting at your desk; it is a recipe for misery.

There is a good chance if you answered "yes" that social media could be the cause. The good news is that manual physical therapy can help. If you have "Tech Neck," this blog will provide solutions to the pain.

What is Tech Neck?

"Tech Neck" refers to a repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by having your head in a forward, looking down position for an extended period. The posture affects the curvature of the spine, the neck and shoulder muscles, and supporting ligaments. Here are a few symptoms that you may feel if you have Tech Neck:

  1. Sharp and nagging pain in the neck and shoulders

  2. Headaches and or eye pain

  3. Decreased range of motion due to tightness in your neck and shoulders

  4. Nerve pain or tingling and numbness in your upper limbs

“The more we look down, the more the muscles have to work to keep your head up. These muscles can get tired and sore from looking down at our smartphones, working on computers, or looking down at tablets all day."Health Matters.

If social media is the cause of your neck pain, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. The good news is that you do not need a referral prescription to visit a physical therapist if you live in Virginia. Contact The Therapy Network in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia and book an appointment today.

Manual Physical Therapy Can Help

There are ways to prevent neck pain, such as taking long breaks from your smartphone and scrolling social media. If you are already experiencing pain or any of the symptoms above, it is time to take corrective action.

Manual physical therapy is a specialized therapy that fits the needs of those suffering from Tech Neck or back and shoulder pain.

Manual physical therapy is beneficial for various conditions, such as joint stiffness, muscle tightness, limited range of motion, and pain associated with musculoskeletal disorders. The hands-on techniques aim to reduce pain, improve joint mobility, enhance flexibility, and restore normal movement. If you are experiencing pain, numbness, and/or headaches, it is time to receive support from a professional physical therapist.

What are Manual Physical Therapy Techniques?

You may want to know more about manual physical therapy techniques if you suffer from neck, back, and shoulder pain. Here are the five methods most often used at The Therapy Network:

  1. Joint Mobilization: This technique involves skilled passive movements of a joint to improve its range of motion, reduce pain and restore normal joint mechanics.

  2. Soft Tissue Mobilization: This technique includes hands-on therapy such as massage, deep tissue mobilization, and myofascial release to address muscle tightness and trigger points.

  3. Muscle Energy Techniques: These techniques involve the active contraction of muscles against a resisted force to restore normal joint motion.

  4. Myofascial Release: This technique focuses on releasing tension and tightness in the connective tissue surrounding muscles. It promotes mobility while reducing pain.

  5. Manipulation: This technique involves a quick and controlled movement to restore a joint's normal function.

At The Therapy Network, you will meet with a specialist who uses various manual techniques to relieve neck, back, and shoulder pain. You can find a complete description of our manual physical therapy services on our website.

The Therapy Network in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk

If you live or work in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia, there is a Therapy Network location is nearby. With TTN locations in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk, you are never far away from a convenient location. You can schedule an appointment today since you do not need a physician's referral or prescription to visit The Therapy Network. And chances are good that we can see you today too.

Is social media causing your neck pain? If you are suffering from Tech Neck or shoulder and back pain, it is time to take the first step to living pain-free. Call TTN or book an appointment online.