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COVID-19 Symptom: Costochondritis

Written by Ada’s Medical Knowledge Team

Updated on


  • Costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone
  • Chest pain and tenderness can be symptoms of costochondritis related to COVID-19
  • The treatment for costochondritis generally involves pain management and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Although costochondritis related to COVID-19 does not usually cause permanent problems, it can recur periodically.

Costochondritis, an inflammation of the cartilage connecting the ribs to the breast bone, may be one of the reasons why your chest hurts if you have COVID-19. The condition is thought to be caused by inflammation or excessive coughing caused by COVID. Costochondritis related to COVID-19 can cause chest tenderness and discomfort which has been reported in both adults and children with COVID.

Because chest pain should be taken seriously, it’s important to understand this symptom so you can contact your doctor if there is cause for concern.

Can COVID-19 cause costochondritis?

Costochondritis related to COVID-19 is a benign consequence of an infection with the coronavirus that some people experience. One must first know what the condition entails to understand the relationship between costochondritis and COVID-19. 

Costochondritis is an inflammation of the middle part of your chest where your ribs meet your breastbone. This inflammation can cause sharp chest pain, which gets worse by: 1 2

  • Breathing deeply
  • Moving your upper body
  • Touching the middle of your chest

The cause of costochondritis related to COVID-19 isn’t well established. Some studies suggest that it is related to the inflammation caused by the disease. The coronavirus may also cause severe distress to the joints between the cartilage of the ribs and the breastbone due to the respiratory infection and the continuous coughing. Therefore, some people might experience costochondritis both during and after COVID. 3

Costochondritis can also be caused by other factors, such as: 1

The coronavirus may cause severe distress to the joints between the cartilage of the ribs and the breastbone due to the respiratory infection and the continuous coughing. Therefore, some people might experience costochondritis after COVID. 4 5

How long does costochondritis with COVID-19 last?

As costochondritis with COVID is strongly related to coughing and viral infection, most cases of the inflammation go away a few weeks to months after the coughing has stopped. You should consult your doctor for treatment and monitoring if your pain persists. 1

What else can cause chest pain?

Although the chest pain caused by costochondritis may be very sharp and distressing, it’s a harmless condition. There are however other conditions which must be kept in mind if you’re experiencing chest pain, such as: 2 6

Your doctor should always check chest pain because some conditions that cause chest pain require immediate intervention. You should contact your doctor immediately if: 1

  • You experience sudden chest pain that persists for more than 15 minutes
  • The pain spreads to your arms, back, neck, or jaw
  • The pain makes your chest feel tight or heavy
  • You experience shortness of breath.

How can costochondritis due to COVID-19 be treated?

Costochondritis is a benign condition and typically goes away on its own after some time, although the pain can also come back after a period of feeling better. 

If the pain is uncomfortable, there are several treatment options that may provide relief. 1 5

  • Painkillers: If you are experiencing discomfort, over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen can help alleviate the pain.
  • NSAIDs: Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, naproxen, or ibuprofen can also help reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Your doctor may prescribe NSAIDs as a topical cream or gel that can be applied directly to the affected area.
  • Local anesthetic or steroid injection. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend a local anesthetic or steroid injection to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. This treatment involves injecting medication directly into the affected area to provide quick relief. 
  • Rest. As you’re healing, you should avoid any activities that may worsen your condition. 

By combining pain management strategies with rest, you can effectively manage your costochondritis symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Wrapping up

Costochondritis may be caused by COVID-19 in some cases, as persistent coughing and inflammation due to the virus may cause the joints between the rib cartilage and the breastbone to become inflamed. Costochondritis usually goes away on its own. If the pain does persist, then there are various treatment options with medication or injections to reduce the inflammation.


Q: Can you still get costochondritis if you took the COVID vaccine?
A: Although the vaccine helps your immune system fight the infection with the coronavirus, it’s still possible to have symptoms such as coughing, which may lead to costochondritis.

Q: Does COVID give you costochondritis?
A: In some cases, COVID-19 may cause costochondritis as the persistent coughing and inflammation associated with the virus can lead to inflammation of the joints between the rib cartilage and breastbone.

Q: Does COVID-19 cause sternum pain?
A: Breastbone pain is a common symptom of costochondritis, which can be caused by COVID-19. Many people with this condition experience tenderness and pain in the sternum area. The pain may be sharp or dull, and it may worsen with movement, deep breathing, or coughing.

Q: What does long COVID chest pain feel like?
A: Long COVID chest pain can vary in intensity and may be described in different ways by different individuals. Some people may experience a sharp or stabbing pain in the chest, while others may describe the pain as a dull ache or pressure in the chest. The pain may also be intermittent or constant and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, and palpitations.

Q: How long does viral costochondritis last?
A: Costochondritis from COVID-19 can improve within a few weeks, but it can also persist for several months or longer. While the condition typically does not result in any permanent issues, it can recur intermittently.