The breasts are made up of glandular material surrounded by fatty tissue and encased by skin. They are attached to the chest wall by ligaments. The breasts rest on and are supported by the pectoralis major muscles. There is no muscle tissue in the breast itself, so it is not possible to pull a muscle in the breast. You can, however, damage the ligaments or the muscles that support the breasts.
Pulled muscles, including those that support the breast, fall into three types or degrees of damage. First degree pulls involve less than 5 percent of the muscle mass and typically generate some pain and restriction of motion. Second degree pulls are usually referred to as partial muscle tears. There is considerable pain and restriction of range of motion. Third degree muscle pulls are complete tears across the muscle tissue. These tears involve great pain, the inability to contract the muscle and internal bleeding. Surgery may be required to repair third degree muscle tears.
A pulled pectoral muscle can be identified by minor to severe pain in the area of the pull. There is frequently bruising and swelling at the site. A pulled pectoral muscle often results in a loss of both mobility and strength.
The pectoral muscles are not usually associated with pulls or tears because of their location on the body. Pulls are much more likely to occur in the muscles of the limbs such as the biceps or calf. However, overwork by activities such as weight lifting (or even lifting a child), or a blunt force trauma such as may occur during a car wreck, can cause a pulled pectoral muscle.
When you notice a pulled pectoral muscle, stop whatever activity you were doing that caused the pain. Begin immediate first aid treatment by applying an ice pack to the injured area. Wrap a compression bandage around the chest for support and contact your health care provider to assess the severity of the pull and for further professional treatment.
Continued exercise will only make the damage to the pectoral muscles worse by increasing internal bleeding. Massaging the damaged area may cause additional trauma to the already damaged muscle. Do not apply heat during first aid as this can also increase the flow of blood.