Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Costochondritis: Officially Ruled "Not Fun"

Any kind of chest pain is usually not cool. Chest pain while you're a 40+ smoker who's in the midst of a busy and stressful time at work and dealing with the holidays is an added level of uncoolness.

That's the bad news. The good news is that when I started feeling a bad pain in my chest yesterday, I didn't panic about it. It was obvious to me that I'd injured myself somehow and wasn't having a heart attack or anything. It was very tender to the touch and painful when I tried stretching, but otherwise didn't hurt badly, and my heart rate and rhythm seemed regular. Nevertheless, no one likes to be in a bunch of mysterious pain, so when Kat suggested that we take a little run down to the urgent care center, I didn't object as I usually do.

After arriving and waiting in the waiting room, then getting my vitals checked, then getting an EKG, then getting kicked out of that room into another exam room and then waiting in there for a seeming eternity, I got to speak to an actual real, live doctor. She let me know that I had a textbook case of costochondritis. Yeah, I'd never heard of it either.

Costochondritis is a benign inflammation of the costal cartilage, which is a length of cartilage which connects each rib, except the eleventh and twelfth, to the sternum. It causes pain in the chest that can be reproduced by pressing on the affected area between the ribs. This pain can be quite exquisite, especially after rigorous exercise. While it can be extremely painful, it is considered to be a benign condition that generally resolves in 6–8 weeks.

So, now we know.

A Short Break
I was scheduled to play a show tonight on Facebook via StreamJam, but with doctor's orders not to lift anything or chance straining the injury in any way, I'm taking a very short break from shows. I will be back a week from Sunday for my first show of the new year on January 2, 2011, at Triana's Music Trivia, which will be very fun.

Meanwhile, I'm treating the costochronditis with a week-long regimen of steroids. I was hoping that simple ibuprofen would be sufficient, but the doc seemed to feel that the anti-inflammatory aspect of methylprednisolone (Medrol) would help resolve the problem with the rib cartilage more quickly. I'm down with that.

So, that's all. On a side note, while it still hurts quite a bit today, it already seems to be a little better, and I'm sure I'm going to be back to my normal happy Zak soon enough.

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