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Childhood Costochondritis and Biofeedback

 The historical treatment of costochondritis—an inflammation of the costochondral cartilages causing tenderness of the chest wall—includes conventional pharmacological treatments, (e.g., anti-inflammatory drugs, steroids, narcotic analgesics, and serotonin reuptake inhibitors) ice packs, and physical therapy. Behavioral treatment, specifically, biofeedback, relaxation and autogenic therapies have not routinely been utilized in the treatment of costochondritis. In fact, alternative therapies to medicine and physical therapy, such as biofeedback, are typically not a primary consideration in treating such rare disorders. Yet empirical research is replete with a thorough examination of how important and effective early alternative treatment protocols are in the treatment of acute and chronic pain as well as the proper promotion of breathing and relaxation therapies so that the symptoms do not reoccur.

The efficacy of using interventions that promote and cultivate lower levels of arousal has certainly been investigated in regard to the management of headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and hypertension. The goal of most clinical interventions includes the modification of the psycho-physiological responses to stress.1-3 Examples of non-traditional interventions for managing chronic pain, including biofeedback, cognitive behavior therapy, and other self-regulatory procedures are employed in the treatment of both adult and childhood pain. Evidence-based treatments, should be used whenever available. This may be the most salient feature in the non-pharmacological treatment of chronic pain in children.

Empirical research is replete with a thorough examination of the etiology and epidemiology in regard to chronic pediatric pain. A renewed interest in the examination of chronic pain in children and adolescents may have additional physical and psychological consequences in regard to general health and adult chronic pain.4-6 However, treatment investigations have declined over the last decade. More research is needed to provide evidence-based clinical treatments in chronic pediatric pain populations.7-9 Investigations like the current preliminary investigation may benefit children, but can potentially impact the reduction of pain in adult populations as well.10

The current paper examines a treatment protocol that utilizes biofeedback and relaxation techniques as a means of reducing and/or eliminating chronic pain associated with costochondritis. This case study examines the efficacy, future applications, and shortcomings of this type of treatment.

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Last updated on: February 22, 2011
First published on: November 1, 2005