Treatment for a Strained Chest Muscle

Physiotherapist doing thorax manipulation on woman.
Massage treatments may help treat or prevent strained chest muscles. (Image: karelnoppe/iStock/Getty Images)

The pectoralis major is the large muscle that forms the front of your chest. You may strain this chest muscle while performing chest weightlifting exercises such as the bench press. Pain from a strained chest muscle may develop gradually or suddenly at the front of your arm or shoulder. Treatments and rehabilitation programs for a strained chest muscle depend on the severity of your injury.

Cold and Heat

Avoid physical activity that requires moving your chest muscles. Apply ice for 20 minutes three to eight times a day if your strained chest muscle is very painful. Perform this ice treatment for the first two days after your injury. Apply heat using a retainer apparatus to your strained chest muscles after the initial soreness subsides. Strap-on heat backs or heat pack pouches may provide suitable heat retainers to help your strained muscles heal.

Medication

A physician may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen. These medications are also known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce your body’s production of prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that irritate your nerve endings and cause pain. This type of medication helps relieve pain and reduce the swelling that may occur when you have a strained chest muscle.

Sports Massage

Treatment for a strained chest muscle may include sports massage techniques administered by a qualified massage therapist. Sports massage can improve the efficiency of muscles in your chest and help treat strains that result from overuse. This type of massage therapy can also help prevent future injuries. Sports massage may help cure or restore mobility to your chest muscles. Pumping is a sports massage technique for tight or damaged muscle tissue that improves blood circulation to the affected area. Sports massage can help increase the permeability of muscle tissue to allow fluid and nutrients to flow into the tissues and help your strained chest muscles recover quickly. A sports massage therapist may use techniques that help break down scar tissue in your injured chest muscles.

Ultrasound Therapy

Ultrasound therapy may provide effective treatment for soft tissue injuries such as strained chest muscles by reducing the healing time of injuries. This type of therapy may increase blood flow your strained chest muscles by attracting mast cells to the area. Ultrasound therapy may help increase collagen production that contributes to an essential part of tissue recovery. This therapy may improve the condition of scar tissue that may form after an injury by improving the extensibility of existing collagen in your muscles and ligaments.

Rehabilitation and Surgery

Straining your chest muscles may indicate a rupture in the pectoralis major tendon. A sports injury specialist may perform surgery for total ruptures and prescribe a full rehabilitation program following surgery. Surgery aims to reattach muscle in your chest to the bone. Your post-surgical treatment program includes total rest for two to three weeks, followed by gradual strengthening exercises and light weightlifting six weeks after surgery. You may regain normal physical strength and mobility in your chest muscles in approximately four to six months after surgery.

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