I've had costochondritis since I was in school, where I regularly suffered from intense stabbing pain in the chest, leaving me unable to breathe. That's when I developed the ability to breathe and function on a tiny amount of air. It got bad enough early in year 11 that I had to stop all wind instruments and singing, which was annoying as I had just got the conductor to agree that I learn tenor sax on top of everything else (piano, clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, percussion, violin, singing). I turned my hand to teaching and conducting the choir, which I did throughout the rest of my time at secondary school, and it seemed to produce better results than previous choir masters.
The doctor at that time had told me that the costochondritis was only due to posture, and there was no way to fix it unless I fixed my posture. This doctor has made so many mis-diagnoses of me and my family over the years. My current doc said it wasn't to do with posture, and was only exacerbated by stress. They don't know what causes it, but because I have non-specific inflammation, my chest is susceptible to it. The more stressed I get, the more my immune system breaks down and the more susceptible I get.
Other 'treatments' (more like preventatives) are: keeping warm, not allowing cold air to get to the chest, light massage, gentle stretching, not stressing, warm baths, swimming and lots of sleep. Sounds lovely, and I certainly plan to do the warm baths thing ;> Not sure I can stop stressing (especially when I have had to re-mark all summer exam papers due to tutors not following the marking guide AGAIN). I'm not in all that much pain from it. I think my body translates continuous pain into fatigue and being unable to concentrate. However, any small amount of pressure anywhere at all hurts terribly, especially where the location is inflammed. If I walk into a door handle (common as I don't have much balance or co-ordination at times like these), I'm in pain for about 10 minutes, several minutes of that, mostly unable to move.
Ahh well.. I will be starting yoga classes again this week at a 'Beginners/Therapeutic' class which is apparently very gentle, in a studio which I have heard uses candles and small classes. Much nicer atmosphere than Monash Sports-and-Rec yoga where there are 30-40 people crammed in so there is no room to stretch out, fluorescent lighting, thumping of aerobics music, yells of martial arts classes and muffles bouncing of basketballs, resulting in an extremely difficult atmosphere to meditate. However, they are cheap for students. This new place is twice the price. The class is too early on a Friday morning, but it might set me up for a good day.
Update - due to kidney disease, I am no longer allowed to take anti-inflammatories. Anti-inflammatory medication can cause kidney failure, especially in those people who do not have healthy kidneys.