Treating Pericarditis

Pericarditis, which is the irritation and swelling of the sac around the heart, can cause those with it severe pain. While it tends to go away on its own without need for treatment, there are cases where it sticks around and, in those cases, you should be aware of the options you have for treating it. You should consult with a medical professional before treating pericarditis, but here are some of the options you might discover are right for your pain.

Pain Relievers

A doctor may prescribe any of a wide range of medications, from over-the-counter pain relief medicines like ibuprofen (Motrin IB, Advil, etc) or aspirin. Depending on the level of pain and your body’s response to medications, your physician may need to instead prescribe medications which are prescription strength, to increase the likelihood that your body will respond, decreasing your overall pain.


One of the most common corticosteroids used to fight pericarditis and the resulting pain is prednisone. These are typically only prescribed, though, if typical and over-the-counter methods fail to relieve the pain or reduce other symptoms. Additionally, if pericarditis symptoms go away, but return again, corticosteroids may be the avenue your doctor chooses to take.


Also known as Colcrys or Mitigare, colchicine is a drug used to reduce inflammation in the body. It is typically used in severe or acute cases of pericarditis and, like corticosteroids, used to treat pericarditis if symptoms keep coming back. People with liver or kidney disease should not take colchicine to treat their pericarditis, and colchicine can also interfere with other drugs you may be taking. This is why your doctor should take a close look at the medications you are taking, or may take, to see what risks colchicine could be to your overall health.


Sometimes, pericarditis may cause fluid to build up around the heart. If this happens, your doctor may recommend pericardiocentesis, a procedure in which the excess fluid is removed from the cavity with a sterile needle or catheter tube. This is done to prevent the fluid from constricting your heart and causing problems with the flow of blood, which could cause undue stress on the heart muscle over time.


If the pericarditis becomes too constrictive, it may stiffen the sac around the heart. If the sac around the hard becomes permanently rigid, which could cause problems for the movement of the heart, the sac itself may be removed, in severe cases of pericarditis. Any surgical or other medical procedure will be discussed at length with your doctor, so that you may discuss the risks with them.

Maryland Pain & Wellness

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