Tietze Syndrome

By | June 10, 2022

When there is severe pain in the chest that radiates into the left arm, many immediately think of a heart attack. But these symptoms can also have other causes. One of them is the Tietze syndrome, which was first described in 1921 by Alexander Tietze (1864 to 1927) in his work in the “Berliner classical weekly journal” in his work “On a peculiar accumulation of cases with dystrophy of the costal cartilage”.

What is Tietze Syndrome?

Tietze syndrome, which is also called chondropathia tuberosa, costochondritis or Tietze’s disease in medical parlance, is a painful swelling of the cartilage attachments of the breastbone or ribs. Often the reasons for this cannot be clearly clarified. In some cases, the symptoms go away on their own after a while. For leigh syndrome dictionary definitions, please visit foodanddrinkjournal.com.

As a rule, those affected complain of unilateral, non-specific pain in the area of ​​the chest and breastbone, mostly on the left side. The pain, which often increases when you take a deep breath, is sometimes so severe that it can simulate a heart attack. If the symptoms worsen, the pain radiates into the arm or the side of the neck.

Even if this could be suspected at first glance, Tietze syndrome is usually not caused by inflammation. Since the symptoms are similar to those of other diseases such as heart problems, these should be ruled out by a comprehensive examination.


The symptoms of Tietze syndrome often occur without any recognizable trigger. Medical examinations often remain inconclusive. It is assumed that certain factors can promote the occurrence of Tietze’s disease.

These include e.g. B. micro-fractures of the affected bones, which can be caused by overloading or fatigue. A previous surgical intervention in which the chest was opened can also be the cause of the subsequent occurrence of Tietze syndrome.

Those affected are often people between the ages of 30 and 40. The symptoms can worsen with increasing age. Even in children, the occurrence of Tietze’s disease cannot be ruled out. According to statistics, this syndrome is much more common in women than in men.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Tietze syndrome is characterized by severe chest pain that occurs suddenly, especially with movement. There may be swelling of the upper rib bones. Women aged between 20 and 40 are mostly affected. The disease is harmless and heals on its own. However, since Tietze syndrome shows similar symptoms to angina pectoris, it should be differentiated from it in a differential diagnosis.

The pain is triggered by movements of the ribs. However, the ribs always move when breathing, general physical exercise, coughing or sneezing. Those affected perceive the pain as sudden, very intense attacks. Although the symptoms are mainly temporary, chronic pain can also occur on certain occasions.

Chronic complaints only ever occur in the area of ​​inflammation. Sudden movements produced by coughing, sneezing, or deep breathing movements contribute to the short-term worsening of the condition. The pain occasionally radiates to the arms or shoulders. Usually not all ribs are affected.

The changes usually only occur on the upper two ribs. A curative therapy of the harmless disease is not necessary because it heals on its own. In individual cases, however, the healing process can take more than a year. Only pain treatment is often necessary.

Diagnosis & History

In many cases, Tietze syndrome is diagnosed after the patient has been admitted to a clinic. In many cases, the disease is initially mistaken for angina pectoris or a heart attack because of the similar symptoms. This mix-up made a comprehensive medical examination to rule out other dangerous diseases essential.

Despite the sometimes severe pain and stress for those affected, Tietze’s disease is not life-threatening. There are individual cases in which no other symptoms occur apart from the swelling. Other patients experience an accelerated pulse and an excessive feeling of heat accompanied by a painful burning sensation.

Since many symptoms of Tietze syndrome are initially non-specific, a specific diagnosis can only be made by a medical specialist. This can usually diagnose the disease after a regular examination of the patient, for example by a pressure test on the affected areas. A detailed discussion can be helpful in the diagnosis.


Normally, Tietze’s disease does not result in any major complications. However, the typical symptoms – i.e. chest pain, problems breathing and swelling in the rib area – can sometimes cause other symptoms. If the affected person suffers from chronic breathing difficulties, for example, Tietze syndrome can result in shortness of breath.

Accompanying this, panic attacks can occur, which usually also have an impact on the psychological state of the person concerned. The typical chest pain can also correlate with other ailments and cause severe discomfort. In individual cases, Tietze syndrome also causes fluctuations in blood pressure, which are usually associated with painful burning and a feeling of heat in the chest and right arm.

The symptoms are usually treated with anti-rheumatic drugs and painkillers – drugs that are always associated with side effects. Alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture or heat and cold therapy also harbor risks. In the case of acupuncture, infections, bruising and, rarely, circulatory problems can occur.

Cryotherapy can cause minor frostbite and may cause permanent tissue damage. Allergic reactions to the agents and materials used in the treatment of Tietze’s disease cannot be ruled out.

When should you go to the doctor?

Tietze syndrome is a harmless but painful condition that should be promptly clarified by a doctor. If the typical pain in the chest area occurs, it is best to consult a doctor immediately. Other warning signs that need to be clarified are red spots and swelling in the chest area as well as shortness of breath and tachycardia. The pain can radiate to the back and arms. If these warning signs occur repeatedly, a specialist doctor must be consulted.

The doctor can diagnose the condition using an MRI and prescribe appropriate medication. In addition, physiotherapy may be useful. Blockages in the rib area are treated by an osteopath. In consultation with the family doctor, homeopathic treatment is also conceivable. Slight discomfort can be reduced with posture and breathing exercises. However, Tietze syndrome can occur repeatedly and therefore always requires medical supervision. Those affected should see their doctor regularly, especially if the symptoms get worse or new symptoms appear. Chronic diseases must be treated surgically.

Treatment & Therapy

In the best -case scenario, Tietze syndrome and all of its symptoms will go away on its own after a few months. The sometimes severe pain that occurs during the disease is usually treated with appropriate pain therapy (tablets, topical ointments).

Which active ingredients are administered in individual cases depends on the severity of the pain that occurs. For some of those affected, the administration of light painkillers or anti-rheumatic drugs is sufficient. In very severe cases, the symptoms can only be alleviated by injecting the active substance into the spinal cord.

Muscle-relaxing drugs can also be used in Tietze syndrome to contain the symptoms. Sometimes antidepressants are also used, since the constant pain can have a negative effect on the mental state of the person concerned.

Alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture can also be used for Tietze’s disease. Physiotherapy is often prescribed to relax the muscles and maintain the patient’s mobility. Depending on the individual case, heat or cold therapies can also be used as support.


Preventive measures against Tietze syndrome can hardly be taken, since the symptoms often occur spontaneously without a known trigger. However, if symptoms indicating Tietze’s disease occur, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible. Here too, as with most diseases, the earlier appropriate therapy is initiated, the greater the chance of containing the disease.


In the aftercare of Tietze syndrome, those affected need sufficient rest and protection. The pain must be treated by the person concerned carefully carrying out the physiotherapy prescribed by the doctor at home. Particular symptoms should be observed and reported to the doctor immediately. If the pain is excessive, sufferers should undergo strict bed rest.

The pain will go away on its own if you take the medication prescribed by your doctor regularly and take enough rest. Those affected should definitely consider undergoing psychological therapy. Inflammation that occurs requires a visit to the doctor. It is recommended to take against these drugs.

Those affected are also recommended to expand social contact with family and relatives, since it is very likely that their help will have to be called upon more to cope with everyday life. The quality of life decreases significantly due to the disease. For this reason, the affected person should carry out activities with his loved ones.

You can do that yourself

Tietze syndrome requires medical pain treatment. In addition, those affected should take various self-help measures so that the syndrome subsides quickly. In the case of minor complaints, such as those that occur after breast surgery, rest and rest are sufficient. At the same time, the functional disorders that cause the pain must be treated by having the patient carry out the recommended physiotherapy at home. In addition, the symptoms should be observed and any changes reported to the doctor.

In the case of severe pain attacks, bed rest applies. The pain should subside quickly if the painkillers prescribed by the doctor are taken and care is otherwise taken to rest. After taking antidepressants, which serve to erase the pain memory, a therapeutic concomitant treatment may be necessary. The patient should monitor his mood and take the necessary countermeasures in the event of mood swings. Corticoids may have to be taken, which can cause side effects. Here, too, rest and rest apply after ingestion.

If symptoms persist, a visit to the doctor is recommended. Inflammation can also be treated with homeopathic remedies. However, they only represent a supplement to conservative therapy. The intake must be approved and controlled by the doctor responsible.

Tietze Syndrome