What Are the Treatments for a Torn Pectoral Muscle?

A strong serve in tennis, a slip and fall, or an incident of heavy lifting can cause a torn pectoral muscle. Patients usually become aware of a tissue rupture brought on by muscle strain right away. The University of Buffalo Sports Medicine group reports that some patients feel a popping or burning sensation and pain when the injury occurs. Swift treatment will address any bleeding or inflammation and provide pain relief until medical treatment is secured.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

First Aid

Torn muscles in the chest are considered severe musculoskeletal injuries because they inflict extensive tissue damage that may extend to adjacent tendons and fascia. The Mayo Clinic suggests performing first aid and then seeking a professional evaluation and treatment if patients suspect a tear in addition to general muscle strain 1. An immediate application of ice will serve to control the bleeding and swelling. This treatment can be used for pain relief in home care during the first few days as well, for 20-minute periods, every three hours or so. A large reusable gel pack kept in the fridge provides convenient and comfortable cold therapy.

Drug Therapy

Pain relief drugs won’t cure a torn muscle, but they will reduce the negative effects of muscular inflammation. Acute inflammation causes pain as swelling acts to stabilize the pectoral muscle strain site after an injury. When inflammation persists, however, it inhibits healing. The National Institutes of Health report that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will help to break the cycle of pain and swelling when it is no longer useful to the body 2. Over-the-counter or prescription strengths may be suggested by physicians.

Rest From Exercise

Placing additional stress on the pectorals will retard rather than promote new cell growth in the damaged tissue. Moving a torn muscle in the chest can hurt, as well; therefore, doctors prescribe rest for pain relief in addition to rehabilitative treatment. Some patients may need to suspend all activity for 24 hours or more. Refraining from sports or movements that cause pain may be necessary for up to six weeks, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Physical Therapy

The pectoralis major and pectoralis minor are large, thick muscles whose dense tissue heals slowly. Resting a torn muscle decreases its flexibility, so before exercise can resume, patients must stretch the pectorals to restore their ranges of motion. The NIH reports that doctors may recommend home exercise treatment or a professionally guided physical therapy program in the second week after the injury. Slowly restoring strength to the mended tissue will improve fitness and reduce the risk of future pectoral muscle strain.