Chronic costochondritis and the link to repressed emotions/anxiety

What is costochondritis?

Costochondritis is the medical term for inflammation of the cartilage that joins your ribs to your breastbone (sternum). This area is known as the costochondral joint.  According to the medical profession there is no specific cause, it can be attributed to a sprain, too much coughing, traumatic impact etc. Whilst the condition is considered benign (not dangerous) the pain involved can be severe and prolonged, even leading people to think they are having a heart attack.

Symptoms (you may have some or all of these)

Intense pain most commonly on the left side, but can be on both sides of the body, so much so that you can barely move, the pain may also radiate around to your back

Localised chest pain that can make you think you are having a heart attack

Pain in the high stomach area

Pain that moves from one side to the other

Pain that gets worse as the day goes on

Sometimes swelling occurs as in Tietze Syndrome

Accompanying anxiety and panic attacks

What does Chronic mean?

A condition becomes chronic (from the term chronological, meaning time-based) when it persists for  more than 12 weeks despite the root cause sometimes going undiagnosed, or when there is no logical explanation for the pain to continue – a strained muscle for example will heal within 2-3 weeks, a broken bone within 6-8 weeks. If the pain continues despite no medical reason for it to be there, then consider that there may be an emotional component at work. It is important to get your doctor to rule out any other serious conditions.

My experience

I speak from direct experience having suffered with chronic and severe costochondritis for a period of 2-3 years (and possibly on and off for much of my life, now I understand it). The pain became so bad that I was taken to A&E where the diagnosis of costochondritis was made. I was told it wasn’t serious and to “get on with your life”.  Unfortunately if you have not experienced such debilitating pain, and associated anxiety and daily panic attacks, it is not particularly helpful to be told to get on with your life without any assistance on just how to do that J.  This was one of the most challenging periods of my life.  The medical profession could only offer anti-inflammatories (which didn’t work so I stopped taking them), or a nerve block injection which I also refused having read about those side effects, plus there was no guarantee it would work.

I have been intrigued by the mind/body connection my whole life, and am a qualified complementary health practitioner (Reflexology, Massage, Indian Head Massage, Reiki, Hypnotherapy, EFT, Meditation Teacher, Life Coach, Laughter Yoga Leader). I found it particularly disturbing to be at the whim of this horrible pain! Who me? How can this be, surely I should know better or could have stopped it…? Erm, no. Big blow to my perfectionistic/driven personality (more on that later…).

I decided once and for all to use everything I have already learnt about the mind/body connection over my lifetime, and to do a whole lot more research in the effort to find a holistic solution to my pain. I have read literally dozens of books on the topic, studied various courses and self  help material and now I want to pass on what I have learnt to help you also become pain free, or at the very least to improve your daily quality of life!  For those who are currently experiencing such chronic symptoms, I cannot, and would not, promise a “cure” and there is no quick fix unfortunately. What I can offer is a glimmer of hope that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel for you if you are prepared to “dig deep” and look at yourself and the way you currently live, from a different angle.  Whilst my personal experience was with costochondritis, this approach is the same for any other chronic pain such as fibromyalgia, knee pain, back pain, neck pain, migraine, IBS, colitis, TMJ, neuralgic pains…the list goes on.


This website is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information here is based on my personal experience. It is not a guarantee of improvement/diagnosis for your personal circumstances. Please always see a doctor regarding any existing or new health concerns and do not discontinue any medication without your doctor’s advice.