Costochondral Separation

A Costochondral separation, sometimes known as a rib separation, usually occurs after a direct impact to the chest.

Costochondral separation symptoms

Symptoms of a costochondral separation include:

  • A sudden sharp pain at the point where your rib meets the sternum (chest bone).
  • You may feel a popping sensation at the time of injury.
  • Your initial pain may subside, only to gradually become worse again over time.
  • Pain is worse if you take deep breaths, cough or sneeze.

What is a Costochondral separation?

A Costochondral separation occurs when one or more ribs become separated from the costochondral joint at the sternum. It can be very painful, especially when breathing deeply, and can take several months to fully recover.

Anatomy

Costochondritis
Costochondral joints

Ribs attach to the sternum via cartilage. The costochondral joints are the joints formed by the ribs and the cartilage.

A separation of the bone from the cartilage is similar to a joint dislocation. This injury may also be known as a separated rib.

Causes

A separation of one of the costochondral joints usually occurs after an impact, for example, falling onto the side of your body. Or being hit by something. Violent twisting movements can also result in a costochondral separation as can coughing violently.

Treatment

  • Treatment is mostly rest.
  • Seek medical attention to rule out any complications such as a fractured rib or pneumothorax.
  • Your Doctor may prescribe painkillers to ease your discomfort and allow you to breathe more normally. This injury will usually take around 2-3 months to heal fully.

Related articles

  • Cardiac chest pain in athletes

    Chest pain in athletes can be from a number of causes. Thankfully, cardiac chest pain in athletes is rare. A range of conditions causes pain…

  • Referred chest pain

    Referred chest pain is pain that originates from an injury elsewhere, but is felt in the chest. The root cause of the problem may be…

  • Cardiac chest pain in athletes

    Acute chest pain is sudden onset and includes cardiac chest pain, heart attack, a torn muscle or bruised rib. Most chest pain in sport, however,…

  • Buttock pain

    Myofascial pain or trigger points in the Gluteus medius and Piriformis muscles can cause pain in the buttock area. Symptoms of Myofascial Pain Myofascial pain…

  • Side stitch

    A side stitch can usually be felt to one side of the abdomen, more often the right side, around the area of the lower ribs.…

Scroll to Top