I’ve been asked by the British Medical Journal (Australian office) to submit a paper reassessing costochondritis. Lord knows it’s needed. We’ve now surveyed the published medical literature on it, and two things stand out:
(1) The published medical research conclusively shows that costochondritis is NOT a systemic or auto-immune inflammation - no matter what you’ve been told by your doctors, specialists or the popular medical sites. A 1994 research paper in the American Medical Association Archives of Internal Medicine by Disla et al found no higher inflammation levels in the bloods of a group of costochondritis patients compared to a group without costochondritis. That’s why just treating it like an inflammation does not work and does not fix it.
The only reason it's called an inflammation at all is because of the adoption of the term 'costochondritis' for it back in the 1960s - the '-itis' ending means 'inflammation'. There is no basis for the term whatsoever - the problem was also called various other things including simply 'chest wall pain.'
(2) The single best published piece of research evidence on how to fix costochondritis is from Zaruba and Wilson (2017) (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5455195/ ), who fixed eight chronic costochondritis patients by freeing up their tight thoracic spine and rib joints. This is only a case series of eight patients, but it is better than anything else so far published in English (as at August, 2019). It is further supported by several individual case studies which essentially demonstrated the same thing.
All of these entirely conform with and support our New Zealand manual physiotherapy understanding of costochondritis - that it is essentially strain at the rib joints on the sternum, because the rib joints round the back can’t move, and that you fix it by freeing these up again.
We’ve put up a YouTube video explaining what we found in the research, called ‘Costochondritis and Tietze’s Syndrome: The published medical research on how to fix them.’ The link is https://youtu.be/t8k2LCLeR24 There is also a pdf of the detailed text to go with the video near the bottom of this page.