Can you use steroids for costochondritis? (+3 tips)

In this article, we will explore whether it is safe to use steroids for costochondritis or not, how does steroids treat costochondritis, what are the potential effects of using steroids for costochondritis and what are the first-line treatment options for costochondritis.

Can you use steroids for costochondritis?

Yes, steroids can sometimes be used for the treatment of costochondritis. Costochondritis is an inflammation in the cartilage that connects ribs to the breastbone (1). However, steroids are not the first-line treatment for this condition.

Costochondritis is a temporary conditions that usually subside with heat or cold compresses and well management. Steroids should not be used for a prolonged period of time for the treatment of costochondritis. They are only researched for the severe cases only. Steroids are medications that provide relief from inflammations (2). 

If you are suffering from costochondritis and wish to use steroids for the treatment then it is strictly prohibited to do self-medication without a proper consultation and medical advice. You need to contact your doctor and only start your treatment after that.

How do steroids treat costochondritis?

Steroids particularly corticosteroids have anti-inflammatory properties. This anti-inflammatory action of these steroids makes them suitable for the treatment of costochondritis, an inflammation in the cartilage. However, steroids are only used when other management tips are no longer effective. They are usually reserved for some severe cases of costochondritis.

Steroids have a significant list of side effects that are to be considered before starting their use in the treatment of costochondritis. Although steroids can be effective there is no stronger research evidence to prove their effectiveness in the treatment of costochondritis.

What are the potential effects of using steroids for costochondritis?

Using steroids for costochondritis is complicated. It can be beneficial as well as lead to certain risks (3).

Benefits Risks
Decreased swelling and pain Potential weight gain
Reduces discomfort Elevated blood sugar levels
Improve mobility Increased risk of Acid reflux
Effective for severe cases Adrenal suppression
Effective when other options can no longer be used Requires prescription
  Potential interaction

Before prescribing steroids for the treatment of costochondritis, your doctor may have to weigh the risk and benefit ratio in order to ensure effectiveness with minimal side effects.

What are the first-line treatments for costochondritis?

Costochondritis does not usually require pharmacotherapy. It can be managed with some lifestyle modifications. Here are a few tips to manage costochondritis before using steroids.

  • Avoid activities that can worsen the pain in the chest. Rest is suggested to make a fast recovery.
  • To reduce the pain or inflammation associated with costochondritis, you might be prescribed some NSAIDs such as ibuprofen and naproxen (1).
  • You might have to apply a cold compress or a heat pack to the affected area in order to manage the conditions.
  • You will be suggested to do some specific exercises to improve your posture and to give strength to your muscles. However, the exercises should not be strenuous.
  • Using chest braces or cushioned seatbelts might be suggested to reduce the discomfort.

If your condition does not get better with all these management tips, then your doctor may have to prescribe you some steroids to treat the condition. 

In my experience

In my experience, steroids are not usually needed to treat costochondritis. They are never used as first-line treatment options due to the long list of side effects. There are some management tips that are provided first with some NSAIDs. However, if the management does not provide any considerable benefits then you may have to use steroids.

You need a proper consultation with your doctor to weigh the risks and benefits of using steroids for this condition. If, after a careful and thorough analysis of your medical condition and your past medical record, it is proven safe to use steroids, only then your doctor will suggest or prescribe them to you. 




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Schumann JA, Sood T, Parente JJ. Costochondritis. 2023 Jul 4. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30422526.


Hodgens, A. (2023, May 1). Corticosteroids. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf.



Coutinho AE, Chapman KE. The anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects of glucocorticoids, recent developments and mechanistic insights. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2011 Mar 15;335(1):2-13. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Reference list]