Can anxiety cause costochondritis?

Can anxiety cause costochondritis?

There is no official link between anxiety and Costochondritis. However, it is known that emotional states such as anxiety and stress can be responsible for elevating Costochondritis, chest pain, or other chest-related complaints.

It is seen that people who suffer from panic disorder often report difficulty in breathing and pain in the chest areas which are some of the symptoms that are also seen in Costochondritis regardless of the diagnosis of an anxiety or panic attack in that individual.

Individuals who are suffering from Costochondritis and also have anxiety as a comorbid condition can try and reduce their symptoms by carrying out some relaxation techniques such as meditation, practicing mindfulness, and breathing exercises.

As anxiety can cause chest pain it is important to understand that not all chest pains are a sign of Costochondritis.

The diagnosis of Costochondritis can be complex and it is very important to rule out other similar or more serious conditions. In order to avoid any confusion, it is best to consult a doctor and carry out the required procedures that give more clarity into the condition.

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is caused due to an inflammation in the chest area between the ribs and the breastbone. Usually, the pain that is caused due to this inflammation might mimic a heart attack or other heart conditions.

Costochondritis is sometimes called ascostosternal syndrome or costosternal chondrodynia.


What are the symptoms of Costochondritis?

The main symptoms experienced by an individual who has Costochondritis  are:

  • Pain in the chest area or the ribs.
  • Inflammation spreads over more than one rib
  • A person might experience pain while doing simple movements like heavy breathing or coughing.
  • A person might experience tenderness in the chest area
  • The pain usually occurs on the left side of the breastbone
  • The pain experienced by an individual might be sharp or pressure-like.

What are the causes of Costochondritis?

Costochondritis  can be caused due to several reasons such as:

  • A bacterial or a viral infection may contribute to the onset of Costochondritis.
  • A chest trauma or reactive arthritis
  • The presence of tumor can also be one of the causes of Costochondritis
  • It can also develop as a post-surgery complication
  • In case of pregnant women, a stretch in a woman’s rib cage might lead to an inflammation in the area
  • Due to unknown inflammation of the cartilage

What are the treatment options for Costochondritis?

The various treatment options available to effectively deal with Costochondritis  are:

Observe yourself

A person usually experiences anxiety when they feel threatened. It is very important for an individual to understand that a negative thought is always accompanied by a chain of similar thoughts leading to an increased sense of threat and discomfort in the chest.

This chain of negative thoughts is usually more when a person is sick and well aware of it.

In order to avoid any kind of discomfort caused by anxiety, the person has to be mindful and observe what they are thinking and reflect on its consequences on the medical condition.

Emotional stress

Even though stress and anxiety cannot be the sole reason for Costochondritis they can aggravate the condition over a short period of time.

Individuals must make sure that they are managing their emotional stress effectively before it makes the pre-existing condition of Costochondritis even worse.

Some ways to deal with emotional stress effectively could be to distract oneself, carry out pleasurable activities, talk about their feelings with family or friends.


Use of hot or cold pads.

Hot and cold pads are commonly used for various reasons to get relief from pain and discomfort. The same can be used for Costochondritis.

Applying hot or cold pads in the areas of discomfort can help reduce the pain and discomfort. Even though the refile is not permanent it can help control the pain.

Some professionals also suggest using heating pads with some medicated cream for better and quicker results.

Avoid exercise

Even though exercise is considered to be good for people’s health in general and rehabilitation in case of Costochondritis avoiding strenuous exercises and also simple exercises such as stretching can lead to a speedy recovery.

That is exercise with Costochondritis might lead to further discomfort and pain in the chest.

Therefore, it is advisable that people avoid stretching or putting any kind of strain in the chest area until the condition subsides.

Prescribed medication

Individuals can also take prescribed medications such as pain relief pills in order to reduce the discomfort and pain that is caused due to the inflammation initially. An individual must mention their pre-morbid conditions and the respective treatments to the health care professional while taking any kind of medication for Costochondritis.


Even though much cannot be done about Costochondritis than waiting for it to subside in a natural way it is important for individuals to follow up with their health care professionals if they see any kind of change in the symptoms.

These changes could involve:

  • Change in the type of pain that individual experiences be it more serious or relatively less.
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness.
  • Caught with unusual phlegm or blood
  • Changes in the color of the stool
  • Recurrent abdominal pains
  • High fever

Remind yourself its temporary

Illness can be overwhelming be it acute or chronic. An individual needs to remind themselves that this is just a temporary condition and will subside with an adequate amount of care and precaution.

Sometimes individuals get paranoid about their health conditions which lead to further anxiety and discomfort it is necessary that an individual identifies that dwelling on such thoughts may just worsen the condition.


Costochondritis is a condition that is caused by inflammation in the chest areas where the ribs connect to the breastbone. Even though it is not a chronic condition it might be very painful for the period that it lasts.

Costochondritis cannot be caused due to any heart or lung problems. Some of the main reasons for the trigger of Costochondritis are some chest-related trauma such as intense exercise, lifting heavy objects, injury to the chest, or any illness that makes an individual cough or sneeze constantly.

There is no direct link between anxiety and Costochondritis however the symptoms of anxiety are such that it might lead to a heightened discomfort in the chest areas which is one of the things that are to be avoided during Costochondritis for a speedy recovery.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

What is Costochondritis?

Costochondritis is a condition in which an individual has inflammation in the chest walls between the ribs and the breastbone which is associated with pain in the chest area that can often be mistaken for a heart attack.

Can Costochondritis be caused by stress?

Stress cannot be the primary reason for the onset of Costochondritis however stress can play a role in increasing Costochondritis in the chest area.

Simple activities like carrying out stretching exercises or reaching for the top-shelf might lead to discomfort in the chest area. These activities must be avoided until the condition improves.

Can anxiety cause inflammation in the chest?

Anxiety cannot primarily cause inflammation in the chest however it might aid in building up the inflammation. This is the reason why anxiety might lead to various heart or gastrointestinal conditions.

How can one improve Costochondritis?

Some ways that an individual can improve the condition are:

  • Use of prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and pain relievers as instructed by the professional.
  • Use of heat or ice bags. Trying to please heat pads or cold patches on painful areas several times a day might help in reducing the discomfort.
  • Taking ample amount of rest and not exerting any pressure or stress on the chest area might help in faster recovery.

Will Costochondritis ever go away?

Costochondritis is not a terminal or a fatal condition. The condition will improve by itself considering one takes all the necessary precautions. In chronic cases, the condition may last for a few weeks or more, but most cases don’t last any longer than a year.


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