Atraumatic swelling of the sternoclavicular joint is usually degenerative arthitis or osteoarthritis. Since you did not mention any trauma this seems the likely cause. Osteoarthritis of the SC joint usually responds to treatments such as rest, ice, physical or occupational therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. If the symptoms of osteoarthritis do not respond to basic treatment over six to 12 months, surgery may be considered, but it is rarely, if ever indicated.
If the swelling is not at the SC joint, but rather at the joints between the sternum and ribs, there is another consideration, Tietze Syndrome. There is swelling as well as tenderness of the rib-cartilage junctions in Tietze syndrome. Although some doctors use the terms costochondritis and Tietze syndrome interchangeably, they are actually two different entities. Tietze syndrome has a sudden onset without any preceding respiratory illness or any history of minor trauma. Costochondritis should be distinguished from Tietze syndrome, a condition involving the same area of the front of the chest. Costochondritis is not associated with swelling, as opposed to Tietze syndrome where swelling is characteristic. Tietze syndrome is an inflammation of the costochondral cartilages of the upper front of the chest. Again, the mainstay of treatment is usually ice and anti-inflammatory medications.
In Tietze syndrome, there is frequently radiation of pain to arms and shoulders as well as pain and tenderness associated with swelling at the spot that hurts. THe radiating pain is similar to cardiac pain, and therefore cardiac problems should always be ruled out.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information.
The Content on this Site is presented in a summary fashion, and is intended to be used for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to be and should not be interpreted as medical advice or a diagnosis of any health or fitness problem, condition or disease; or a recommendation for a specific test, doctor, care provider, procedure, treatment plan, product, or course of action. Med Help International, Inc. is not a medical or healthcare provider and your use of this Site does not create a doctor / patient relationship. We disclaim all responsibility for the professional qualifications and licensing of, and services provided by, any physician or other health providers posting on or otherwise referred to on this Site and/or any Third Party Site. Never disregard the medical advice of your physician or health professional, or delay in seeking such advice, because of something you read on this Site. We offer this Site AS IS and without any warranties. By using this Site you agree to the following Terms and Conditions. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.