epidemic myalgia

Bornholm disease

Bornholm disease or pleurodynia is a disease caused by the Coxsackie virus. It is named after the Danish island Bornholm where the first documented cases occurred.

Other names

It is also known as the devil's grip, devil's grippe, epidemic myalgia, epidemic pleurodynia, epidemic transient diaphragmatic spasm or The Grasp of the Phantom.


The virus that causes devils grip is picornavirus. It is spread by contact and epidemics usually occur during warm weather in temperate regions and at any time in the tropics. It can also be spread through saliva,tooth paste and feces.


Symptoms include:

  • fever
  • headache
  • attacks of severe pain in the lower chest. The slightest movement of the rib cage causes a sharp increase of pain, which makes it very difficult to breathe, and an attack is therefore quite a frightening experience, although it generally passes off before any actual harm occurs. The attacks are unpredictable and strike "out of the blue" with a feeling like an iron grip around the rib cage. The colloquial names for the disease reflect this symptom.


The illness lasts about a week and is rarely fatal. Treatment includes the administration of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents or the application of heat to the affected muscles.

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