Healing from Costochondritis & Tietze's Syndrome Naturally - a Multifaceted Approach

Costochondritis and Tiezte's Syndrome are essentially the same condition, with one key difference - Tiezte's presents with swelling and Costochondritis does not. 


Whether you've been recently diagnosed or you've been living with this for years, in my opinion, the path to healing from costochondritis s a multifaceted approach.  In this day and age of a "pill for every will," most people are looking for that quick fix solution so they can get on with their lives, but I am here to tell you, that simple does not exist with costochondritis.  


If you've had this for years, like I did, then you likely already know this.  I personally tried everything from anti-inflammatory diets, acupuncture, to 6 different physiotherapists (physical therapists for my American friends), 3 different chiropractors, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, osteopaths, massage therapy and at one point, when I was in more pain then I could handle, I even tried the pharmaceuticals (gabapentin and tramadol - neither of which did anything to touch the pain I had).  


Okay, so here is what I believe, as someone who lived with severe and acute costochondritis for 8.5 years before I found my healing path. These are some (if not ALL) of the most important systems to implement to support healing in the body, literally from any condition, but specifically costochondritis.


1) Mindset/Mindfulness


You must have a mindset that shifts from "I am in so much pain" to "I am healing". You must believe it is possible. If you use costochondritis as a "crutch", if it protects you in life from any fears that you may have, then this is deeper work that is required to identify and break through this. This is the NUMBER ONE reason that I see people staying stuck in their illness. Who would you be without costochondritis? What would other's expect of you? What additional responsibilities might you have? What are you afraid of achieving or doing that having this condition protects you from? Without busting through these thought patterns, people are content to stay where they are. It's not often a conscious decision so I invite people to sit with this.


2) Stress 

Stress is similar to mindset here as our mindset can really determine how we handle stress.  Stress is the number one factor in people returning to balance and can interfere with healing in the body more than most people know.  Adding stress management tools into your life will go a long way to supporting balance and optimal health. This could include deep breathing techniques, meditation and gentle, restorative yoga. It could also include grounding and getting out in nature, spending time by the ocean (if you live near one) or in the forest. The fresh air, sounds of the ocean or stillness and life in the forest are all healing and provide excellent benefits to our body. Many of us do not slow down enough any more and now is a time to make time for this. 


3) Nutrition 


Most holistic nutritionists would place nutrition in the number one spot here - but I don't. While it is a huge tool in promoting healing in the body, without healthy thought patterns and belief that you can heal, or without stress management, all the broccoli and greens in the world cannot protect the adrenals or the protect the body from the damaging affects of stress. We just get our nutrition right for our body and then the cells can do what they need to do. If there is gut damage and inflammation in the body, then we must work on gut healing so that nutrient absorption can be optimal. If it's not, all the supplements and greens in the world are not necessarily going to make a huge difference because the body can't absorb the nutrition from them. So healing the gut can be included in this for some people. People may also have leaky gut - which is allowing toxins, food proteins and waste to get into the blood stream which can then start an auto-immune response, including inflammation in the body - again - gut healing work. This brings me to Triggers.


3) Triggers


Eliminating triggers - this could be food sensitivities, scents and smells that you are sensitive to or anything else that can trigger a reaction or a flare up - identifying and eliminating these is huge.


4) Identify the Mechanism of Cause


This will not be the same for all people with costochondritis but it will help you to identify what healing path to take.  Many people with costochondritis will tell you that it just came on out of the blue. There was no injury or known cause.  They just woke up with this excruciating pain one day.  Many others end up in the ER believing they are having a heart attack because of the symptoms only to be diagnosed with costochondritis.  Many have used tools like my friend Steve's August "Backpod" to unlock the rib hinges and promote healing, and in some it works great while in others, it doesn't make a difference.  If the cause is injury related, then the body work is going to be even more important for you.  However, in many people, the cause is related to a very stealthy virus - the research is still new in this area, but Epstein Barr Virus is being implicated in connective tissue disease and neurological disease - as well as autoimmune and thyroid disease.  While you may not have EBV, I high recommend getting tested to see if you have an active case.  If you do have an active case, then we can absolutely talk about lowering your viral load naturally and what you can do about that! 


Another known cause or perhaps precursor to costochondritis is autoimmune disease.  As many as 70% of fibromyalgia patients will eventually end up with costochondritis.  If this is you, then gut healing work is on the menu!  Remember were I mentioned above about gut inflammation and toxins getting into the blood stream that can create an autoimmune attack or "flare".  


I personally have scoliosis and hyperflex mobility - unfortunately, those are necessarily things that are so easy to change as they are something that people are often born with or develop as they grow.  They are, however, things that put the risk of costochondritis at much higher risk.  So implementing the other strategies is going to be super important for people like me.  


4) Body Work


This one is very specific to costochondritis - you MUST find a hands on practitioner that knows and understands costochondritis or, at the very least use tools like the backpod, a foam roller and learn the exercises and stretches that can support you in healing from this. It's no surprise that people with costochondritis also tend to be people who are under high levels of stress, spend a lot of time on the computer, smart phones or other devices that allow their posture to keep them in a hunched forward position for many hours during the day. If you work in an office, a standing desk might be a good fit for you.  It took me years to find a physical therapist that could help and even working with  him two days a week for 4 months, I was not seeing any improvement.  I was so close to giving up on him helping me when I made a change - I implemented all of the steps above at the same time - and that is when my haling began.  


For the previous 8.5 years before I healed, I had tried everything - but not all at the same time!  That's the key difference here.  I had to implement everything together.  I took all the tools I knew I had as a holistic health practitioner, the tools I use when working with my clients, and I treated myself as though I was my own client.  I went to work on all of these areas in my life.  I implemented a nutritional cleanse to address inflammation and toxins through nutrition, while working on my mindset.  I added in a regular routine of daily meditation and shifted my mindset from "I am in so much pain," to "I am healing."  And while doing all of these things, I continued with my physical therapy and active release technique, and within 4 days, I had a major shift.  It would take another 2-3 months before I started to do the things I had given up because of the "pain" that usually would come with them.  I just kept waiting for it to come back, but it never really did.  


I am not 3.5 years past the last time I had a flare up and I still implement these practices, because I know if I don't make these life long habits, that costochondritis could come back.  


If you are looking for support in healing from Costochondritis, please feel free to reach out to Candice.  She is an Integrative Holistic Nutritionist and passionate about supporting her clients in returning to balance. 


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