Difference Between Pericarditis and Costochondritis

What is Pericarditis?

The pericardium is the name for the sac that surrounds and cushions the heart with fluid. To put it simply, pericarditis is an inflammation of this sac that causes it to leak blood and fluid.

Causes and risk factors − Pericarditis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, however, the specific cause is typically unknown. While percutaneous treatments (used most commonly to unblock arteries), heart surgery, and radiation therapy can all cause pericarditis, the infection can also arise for unknown reasons.

Diagnosis − The doctor's initial step may be to listen to your heart to check for any odd sounds. To check for heart function irregularities, the doctor may next order blood tests, a chest X-ray, an echocardiography, or an electrocardiogram (ECG).

Symptoms − Clinically, pericarditis presents as a piercing pleuritic discomfort. Acute pericarditis discomfort is often severe, starts suddenly, and may last for different amounts of time depending on the patient's posture. The pain might travel down the arm and spread to the trapezius muscle. Recurrence of the symptoms may worsen the condition.

Complications − In most cases, pericarditis is harmless and goes away on its own. Mortality and morbidity rates can be increased by secondary complications such as constrictive pericarditis, pericardial effusion, and cardiac tamponade.

Treatment − Pain from pericarditis is usually manageable with non-hospitalized measures (such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs). Antibiotics are recommended for pericarditis if a bacterial infection is to blame − otherwise, colchicine or steroids are utilized. Surgical procedures (such as pericardiectomy or fluid drainage) are sometimes required.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is an infection of the cartilage that joins the ribs to the chest wall.

Causes and risk factors − Costochondritis has unknown causes but is triggered by a number of circumstances. To name a few examples: bacterial and fungal infections, chest injuries, respiratory tract infections, overuse injuries, and arthritic conditions. Ten percent to thirty percent of the time, teenagers experience chest discomfort because to costochondritis. A lack of vitamin D has been linked to the development of costochondritis.

Diagnosis − A physical examination and manipulation can help pinpoint the locations of swelling and pain throughout the breastbone and rib cage. Due to the lack of a specific diagnostic test, the treating physician may initially do tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, MRI, or electrocardiograph to rule out more obvious causes.

Symptoms − Pain that begins on the left side of the chest and spreads across the chest may be the result of costochondritis. When this happens, the discomfort may radiate to the abdomen and back.

Complications − There are a number of illnesses that can develop as a result of Costochondritis, including rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and even, in extremely rare cases, a tumour of the chest.

Treatment − Symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, cold packs, or heating pads. Pain can also be alleviated with physical therapy. Injections of anti-inflammatory corticosteroids or implantation of a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device are options if these fail. Surgery is an option, but it's usually reserved for extreme circumstances.

Differences between Pericarditis and Costochondritis

The following table highlights the major differences between Pericarditis and Costochondritis −





Inflammation of the pericardium is a sign of pericarditis, a disease of the cardiovascular system.

Inflammation of the cartilage linking the ribs to the sternum is known as costochondritis, a disorder of the musculoskeletal system.


Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and autoimmune diseases like sarcoidosis can all cause pericarditis.

Costochondritis can be triggered by a bacterial and fungal infection, physical strain, and arthritis, but its exact etiology is unknown.


Chest discomfort that radiates to the shoulder, back, and neck may be the first sign of pericarditis.

Inflammation and swelling of the afflicted joint may be indicative of costochondritis.


Treatment for pericarditis includes medication for discomfort and inflammation, corticosteroids, and, in severe cases, a pericardiectomy or surgical drainage of the fluid around the heart.

Drugs available without a prescription, nerve stimulation, and, in severe cases, surgical excision of the damaged cartilage are all ways to alleviate the pain and discomfort of costochondritis.


Constrictive pericarditis, pericardial effusion, and cardiac tamponade are all possible complications of pericarditis.

Some people with costochondritis also have rheumatoid arthritis, and in rare cases, a tumour of the chest.


In this article, we explained in detail the various differences between Pericarditis and Costochondritis.

Updated on: 27-Jan-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started