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I just recently heard about costochondritis from another HelloLife member. The condition was described as an inflammation of the rib cage causing pain near the heart and caused by stress. This sounds an awful lot like a panic attack to me - what's the difference?

Smartliving Guest asked this
August 16, 2011 at 11:40 AM



This is a good question; these two very different conditions can be confusing at times.

Costochondritis is an inflammatory condition in the chest wall. It is caused by inflammation at the sight where the rib bones and the cartilage in our sternum come together in the ribcage. Although it is caused by inflammation, most of the time no one specific cause can be found. Chronic stress can defiantly play a role in making inflammatory conditions worse, but it would not the be primary or sole cause of costochondritis.

A Panic Attack is a sudden anxiety reaction, which is made worse by our bodies fight or flight reflex. Different situations can set off panic attacks for different people. But for everyone who suffers from panic attacks, chronic stress makes them worse. You can read my recent blog to learn more about how emotional stress can affect our physical health.

Symptoms of panic attacks can include chest pain. But chest pain is rarely the only symptom of a panic attack. Also, panic attacks are usually short-lived lasting, seconds, or minutes, and rarely hours. In costochondritis chest pain is typically the only symptom and it usually lasts, hours, days, or even weeks.

I hope this helps.

Stay Healthy,

Dr. Jeff M.D.

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Health Coach answered
August 24, 2011 at 8:56 PM
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