Tietze Syndrome

What is Tietze Syndrome?

Tietze syndrome is condition that involves inflammation of the chest area or simply the cartilage that is attached to the breastbone. The syndrome is characterized by the presence of swelling. This said condition was first identified and described by Alexander Tietze, a German surgeon in the year 1921. Usually, the condition is compared with costochondritis but their distinct difference is that Tietze syndrome involves inflammation and swelling of the costal cartilages. Those affected of Tietze syndrome are younger than 40 years and that it generally affects men more than women.

Tietze Syndrome Symptoms

Tietze syndrome is a condition that would manifest acutely its symptoms. As for that, it has been identified as a benign condition that would be self-limited for 12 weeks. The classical presentation of the disease process involves the following:

  • Chest tightness sometimes is compared with the pain and sensation of a heart attack. It seems to mimic chest tightness that one experiences during a myocardial infarction or heart attack.
  • Sharp, excruciating pain that worsens in each cycle of breath. Activity can increase or aggravate the sensation. The pain may also be localized at the junction located between the sternum and ribcage.
  • Swelling over the tender area is present.


The root cause of Tietze syndrome is not that supported according to studies. According to some studies, the condition is believed to be related with the rheumatic disease. Previous upper respiratory conditions are related to this condition. A rare form of cause of Tietze syndrome is tumor. But the said condition is believed to be precipitated by the following conditions:

  • Injury to the chest.
  • Straining. Coughing with great strain can precipitate to the development of Tietze syndrome.
  • Stress or excessive exercise.
  • Radiation therapy to the chest area.


Diagnosis is attained with assessment. The swelling is visible in the chest area as one is affected with Tietze syndrome. A person shall be ruled out from having a heart attack by doing cardiac examination and blood test. The blood test would identify sedimentation rate that would identify for presence of inflammation. Electrocardiogram can rule out a heart condition. MRI is done as a routine measure for the condition. Chest X-ray would also help in ruling out other possible conditions. This syndrome should not be confused with costochondritis for the latter condition does not involve any swelling.


Treatment for Tietze syndrome involves minimizing the inflammation of the affected area. This can be attained through the following:


  • Provide rest – The affected should include avoidance of energy-wasting activities.
  • Provide anti-inflammatory drugs. Aspirin and acetaminophen are recommended.
  • Do physical therapy – Having a healthy lifestyle can put us away from acquiring conditions such as Tietze syndrome.
  • Apply ice packs on the chest area to reduce the swelling. This can be done alternately with heat pads. The patient’s preference is considered with this intervention.
  • Apply an analgesic patch. Those that contain lidocaine are preferable.
  • Glucocorticoids are provided in order to reduce the inflammation.


This can be attained through avoiding the precipitating factors of the disease process. Stress should be lessened as well as injury to the chest area.

The condition as mentioned above can only last for a few weeks. Sometimes, residual symptoms are still present. But with the innovation of the treatment aimed for Tietze syndrome, full wellness can be attained if compliance is also followed.

Tietze Syndrome Pictures

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