Is It Costochondritis or GERD, and How Can a Chiropractor Help?

While some cases of chest pain are an emergency, there are many conditions that can cause chest pain that do not require immediate care. Two examples are costochondritis and GERD. What are these two conditions that cause chest pain? How can a chiropractor help? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is GERD?

GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. Most people shorten the condition to reflux or acid reflux. The symptoms can include:

  • Chest pain – also called heartburn
  • Pain that grows worse after eating certain foods or laying down
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation of a sour liquid
  • Bad breath
  • Vomiting
  • Damaged esophagus
  • Damage tooth enamel
  • Nausea
  • Breathing problems

Long-term, GERD can become serious, especially as it damages the esophagus, and can even be a precursor to esophageal cancer. So while it is not an emergency, you should still seek care rather than just ignoring it or taking antacids.

What Is Costochondritis?

If you know a little bit about medical suffixes, you probably realize that anything ending in “itis” has to do with inflammation. In this case, the inflammation occurs in the connective tissue of the sternum and ribs. When this cartilage becomes inflamed, it can mimic the symptoms of a heart attack, often driving a person to the ER. Some of the frightening symptoms of costochondritis include:

  • Chest pain – which can be sharp, achy, or feel like pressure
  • Pain that worsens when coughing or breathing
  • Pain that worsens when moving the upper body, especially the arms

In most cases, costochondritis is caused by an injury, strain, or repetitive motion. Arthritis may also be to blame for the inflammation. However, there are also certain viruses, fungi, or bacteria that can affect the joints. Additionally, tumors can cause this type of pain, so it is essential to seek medical care, even if it turns to be nothing serious.

How Can a Chiropractor Help?

The first step is going to be to determine what is wrong because these two conditions have different treatments. Once you know whether the problem is caused by GERD or costochondritis, your chiropractor can recommend an appropriate form of treatment to you. For GERD, this may involve changes in diet or adjustments to help the esophagus perform its job properly. For costochondritis, this may include the use of anti-inflammatory drugs along with adjustments to get the ribs and sternum back in proper alignment. 

If you are dealing with chronic chest pain, once you have ruled out a serious heart condition, give Ward Chiropractic & Rehabilitation in Fairfax, VA, a call at 703.672.1661.