Pain in the chest wall can be a debilitating experience for patients. The thoracic wall, responsible for protecting the heart, lungs, liver, and other vital organs, can suffer from the same chronic inflammation responsible for a wide number of health conditions.
In some cases, chest wall inflammation is an acute issue, caused by side effects of conditions like coronavirus, fungal infections, pleurisy or pleuritis.
Some patients may also suffer from more persistent issues in the chest wall, including problems like costochondritis, the inflammation of the cartilage connecting the sternum and upper ribs. Empyema, which involves fluid build-up between the inner lining of the chest wall and the pleura can exacerbate chest swelling and contribute to chronic pain.
No matter the kind of chest wall inflammation, the primary focus for healthcare providers must be on finding a holistic treatment option.
Addressing the Symptoms of Chest Wall Inflammation
Chest wall inflammation may be the result of various underlying conditions, viruses, or infections. Diagnosis can be complex, as the most common symptom associated with this kind of inflammation is chest pain. The inflammation may become worse with exercise, activity, or when engaging in specific activities (like sleep). Diagnosis of chronic or acute conditions will require an in-depth examination of accompanying symptoms such as:
- Swelling (common in pleurisy and Tietze’s syndrome)
- Headaches (often caused by straining to breathe)
- Difficulty taking a deep breath
- Joint pain
- Dry cough and fever (often common in acute conditions)
Chest wall inflammation is possible in both men and women of any age. Patients with a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of developing an infection in the chest wall, with specific risks arising for those with pneumonia, asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis.
Holistic Treatment for Chronic Chest Inflammation
Chronic chest wall inflammation may be a symptom of conditions like Tietze’s syndrome, or Costochondritis, where the cartilage joining the bones of the ribs becomes inflamed. Inflammation may persevere in patients suffering from tissue damage to the chest wall following an acute infection.
Chronic bronchitis is one example of a chronic condition responsible for inflammation in the chest and chest wall. This condition, which exhibits symptoms such as shortness of breath, headaches, and a phlegmy cough, can affect the airways, and may worsen with exposure to specific substances, like tobacco smoke. Oxidative stress caused by tobacco smoke increases mucus secretion, producing substances that harm ciliary function and inhibit the immune functioning of the lungs.
For patients with chronic chest inflammation conditions, treatments with steroids can further weaken the immune system, and lead to additional side-effects. Anti-inflammatory medications and NSAIDS increase the risk of problems with the heart and circulation, which can worsen the performance of the body overall.
A holistic treatment for chronic chest wall inflammation will need to address the symptoms of the inflammation by reducing exposure to free radicals, and protecting the body, without causing additional damage in the long-term.
Reishi mushrooms, the medicinal mushroom known to lower inflammation and prevent excessive mucus production, is an excellent solution as an adjuvant treatment. This mushroom can lower inflammation and potentially reduce the constriction of the lungs which can lead to shortness of breath and wheezing, allowing for improved quality of life.
Reishi and Medicinal Mushrooms for Chronic Inflammation
The terpenes in Reishi mushrooms are a critical component of a holistic treatment practice for chest wall inflammation. The terpenes, along with the polysaccharides in Reishi mushrooms can significantly improve symptoms of inflammation. These terpenoid compounds contain anti-inflammatory, lipid-lowering, hypoglycaemic, and immunomodulatory properties, as well as hepatoprotective elements.
Reishi terpenes are capable of inhibiting the release of inflammatory substances, reducing inflammatory activity via the inhibition of AP-1 signalling pathways. These substances also have cytoprotective effects to reduce hepatoxicity due to antioxidant enzymes, and they can protect normal cells in the body from excessive damage.
Reishi can be an effective treatment for both the treatment of long-term and acute issues with chest wall inflammation. Initially, treatment for acute issues will often involve fighting any infection with antibiotics. For acute treatment, other medicinal mushrooms are also effective.
In acute conditions, like Covid-19, Coriolus, Polyporus and Reishi mushrooms have all been proven to have a positive impact on the lungs. Cordyceps mushrooms reduce inflammation and aid healthy immune response, and Polyporus can help mucus drainage, while fighting viral infections. The Agaricus Blazei mushroom is also effective at reducing inflammation and it is a well-known strong immunomodulator (rich in zinc and beta-glucans). Beta-glucans, other polysaccharides, and immunomodulatory compounds belong to the bioactive compounds of medicinal mushrooms that can protect and repair the body.
Ergosterol or pro-vitamin D2 in mushrooms, as well as Vitamin C, can also be effective substances for the acute treatment of infections, and the long-term management of various inflammatory conditions.
Holistic Treatments for Inflammation
While basic NSAID treatment and similar therapies can offer short-term relief to patients suffering from acute conditions of chest wall inflammation, long-term solutions require a more careful strategy. Reishi mushrooms and other medicinal mushrooms are proven to be a safe and effective long-term treatment for the reduction of inflammation and pain.