Physical Symptoms
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Anxiety May Be Causing That Rib Pain

Denise Griswold, MSc, LCAS
Anxiety May Be Causing That Rib Pain

Rib pain can be a frightening and while there are ample causes of rib pain that may be serious, this can actually be a symptom of anxiety for some people. While only a doctor can diagnose your rib pain, anyone living with anxiety should mention their anxiety to their doctor. You may find that the rib pain that has caused you so much concern is nothing more than a strange anxiety symptom that you just can't shake.

Some People Are More Prone to Rib Pain

Rib pain is associated with some types of anxiety more than others. While anyone can have some type of pain in their rib related to their anxiety, those with anxiety attacks and other symptoms of breathing issues related to anxiety may be more prone to that type of pain.

What Causes Rib Discomfort From Anxiety?

Stress has a shocking effect on your body - an effect that is almost impossible to quantify, and one that can affect you in ways that even doctors don't understand. But generally there are two causes of rib pain from anxiety. They are:

There are other strange rib pain causes as well. Anxiety makes you more likely to toss and turn in your sleep, for example, and this may lead to rib pain. It's also possible for ticks or breathing exercises improperly performed to lead to stress on your ribs.

Learning to Reduce Your Feelings of Danger

One of the problems with anxiety and any physical pain is that anxiety also has a tendency to make the mind overreact to the pain. Your body has little aches and pains every day, regardless of your overall health or anxiety levels. Those with anxiety tend to zero in on these feelings, so that they feel more painful than they are.

Also, those that suffer from panic disorder may find that any pain triggers a cascade of anxiety that makes symptoms genuinely worse, while also causing a feeling of doom that makes it hard not to worry about their health. Rib pain from anxiety is not dangerous, but it's clear why many people who experience it are concerned. 

How to Stop Your Anxiety Rib Pain

Most people suffering from this type of rib pain do anything they can to stop it. They try to stretch more, they try to sleep differently - when rib pain from anxiety is bothering you, there is a natural tendency to do anything possible to relieve it.

There are a couple of problems with focusing on relieving rib pain. First, the rib pain is a result of your anxiety, not a health issue, so there's no specific way to rid yourself of the rib pain specifically without working on relieving your overall anxiety. Second, relieving rib pain requires you to focus on your pain, but focusing on your pain can make it worse, causing more anxiety and potentially more rib pain.

Start by trying the following:

These are valuable tools for relieving anxiety. But they are only the first step, since they do very little to reduce your overall anxiety symptoms, and thus it's unlikely that doing this will prevent you from experiencing rib pain again.

That's why you'll have to focus on strategies that are specific to your anxiety.

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