Acupuncture for Costochondritis

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Characterized by the sharp pain in the costal cartilage, the cartilage joining the sternum to the ribs, costochondritis is a condition that may be mistaken for a heart attack. The pain in the area may be worsened by coughing and deep breathing. Although the painful attacks may be relatively short, the pain can become chronic if not properly treated.

The main focus of the treatment of this condition is the proper management of pain and symptoms. Because of the key role of acupuncture to relieve pain, it is an effective treatment for costochondritis.

Acupuncture for Costochondritis

Acupuncture is administered based on the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture has been practiced for more than 5,000 years in China and considered as one of the main pillars of the Chinese medicine.

The concept behind this form of treatment is that energy travels through various channels within the body called meridians. Pain is often experienced when these channels are blocked. According to these Chinese principles, costochondritis is brought about by the stagnation of the energy in the meridians that run through the thorax. Through the treatment, energy will begin to move and the pain and symptoms will subside.

Acupuncture for costochondritis involves the use of fine needles inserted to the area of the pain or other particular points in the body. The acupuncture needles used are sterile and are much finer than the needles used to take blood. When inserted, because of its size, these needles do not cause pain. The usual acupuncture treatment may involve the insertion of these needles in the feet, hands, ears and head.

The good thing about this alternative form of treatment is that there are no side effects. Furthermore, this treatment can complement with conventional forms of treatment.

A session of acupuncture for costochondritis will normally last for 45 minutes. One session per week is recommended at the start of the treatment. After the session, the patient will feel very relaxed.

Types of Acupuncture

There are different varieties of acupuncture for the management of pain from costochondritis. The most popular methods include the classical acupuncture, traditional Chinese acupuncture with herbs, Japanese acupuncture, auricular acupuncture, electroacupuncture and medical acupuncture.

The classical acupuncture is also referred to as the five element acupuncture. This method employs a unique technique that is independent from the use of Chinese herbs. Meanwhile, the traditional Chinese acupuncture combines the power of needles and the application of Chinese herbs. Japanese acupuncture is a type that uses finer needles compared to the traditional Chinese acupuncture. Auricular acupuncture is another form of alternative treatment that treats the whole body through acupuncture points exclusively in the ears. There is also the use of electrical currents attached to the needles and this method is called electroacupuncture. When the method is practiced by a conventional doctor, the method is referred to as medical acupuncture.

The Challenges

Although proven to help manage pain for over 5000 years, the medical community considers the effectiveness of acupuncture to have various challenges. This can be attributed to the varying approaches from different locations, different level of skills of practitioners and the practice of individualizing the treatment from patient to patient. It is also difficult to distinguish the true effects of acupuncture from placebo effects. Hence, quantifying the efficacy of the treatment in clinical trials proves to be very difficult.


Although there may be challenges with the use of acupuncture for costochondritis, there remains a strong following of this option as an alternative form of medicine. This is because acupuncture can bring relief to pain from costochondritis. Regardless whether this is a result of placebo effect or the true efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment to bring relief, the important thing is that proper pain management is achieved. The practice of this alternative form of medicine by medical doctors is another testimony to its ability in providing pain relief.



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