Sharp pain that people feel in their chest, regardless of heart or lung causes, can be due to strained or pulled chest muscle. Doctors call this condition as pulled chest muscle. We get acquainted with the pulled muscle under the breast area and enumerate its features.
In the following, we will introduce you to the causes that lead to pulled muscle under the breast area and enumerate its characteristics.
There are three layers of muscle called the intercostal muscles in your chest that play an important role in your breathing. It is important to know that physicians believe that more than forty-nine percent of chest pain has nothing to do with pulmonary or cardiac causes, and that the cause of this series of pain is related to the intercostal muscle strain.
What are the causes of pulled chest muscle?
There are reasons that provide the basis for pulled muscle under the breast area:
- Chest pain caused by strained intercostal muscles often occurs when you overuse your upper limbs.
- Lifting heavy objects, lifting heavy weights, sports such as:
In general, activities that require a lot of movement in the shoulders and arms can cause strain on the muscles under the breast and cause sharp chest pain.
- Contact injuries
- Holding or raising your arms frequently so that your hands are above your head for a long time
- Accidents resulting from malfunctioning equipment
- Do not warm up the muscles of the body before starting an activity or sports competition
- Unprincipled weightlifting in bodybuilding clubs
- Muscle fatigue
- Poor flexibility
- Another cause of intercostal muscle strain following frequent, severe, and chronic coughs, for example in people with chronic bronchitis.
Following these events, you will experience a strain on the intercostal muscles that are located below the breast
The following groups are more likely than others to develop pulled chest muscle:
- The highest risk is in the elderly who have fallen
- Adults often experience such pain following sports activities, accidents, and so on
The group with the lowest risk of developing these pains are children. Children with less than the above two groups suffer from chest muscle injuries.
Symptoms of chest pulled muscle (strain in the chest muscle)
- The most important symptom and complaint of a person is pain:
The pain can be sharp or dull
You may feel an acute stretch or you may have a chronic feeling of pulling under the breast.
- Pain when breathing, coughing and sneezing intensify
- Sometimes there is swelling in the affected area
- Sometimes you feel muscle spasms under the breast
- Any movement in the area will cause painful stretching and inflammation
- Occasionally, especially after a fall or an accident, the affected area becomes bruised
What should we do to diagnose?
If you have chest pain, the best, safest and first step is to go to a well-equipped treatment center or consult your doctor. Doctors will determine the source of your intercostal muscle strain by hearing your history, examining other signs and symptoms associated with your chest pain, and ruling out vital causes such as those of cardiopulmonary origin.
Sometimes physicians use the following diagnostic methods in addition to taking a history and examining the signs and symptoms and clinical examinations:
- X-ray of the chest
- For better MRI soft tissue examination
- ECG to check and rule out cardiac causes
Types of pain due to chest muscle strain
Chest muscle spasms are divided into two general groups
- Pain from acute muscle spasms:
Occurs quickly or very soon after a fall, trauma or accident
- Pain from chronic stretching:
Athletes such as tennis, golf, gymnastics, or professional dancers often develop chronic repetition of arm movements above the head. For example, people with occupations in which hand and arm movements are common are included in this group.
Chest muscle strain classification in terms of severity
Less than five muscle fibers are involved
More fibers are damaged but complete rupture has not occurred and there is still some strength and mobility
- Grade 3:
There is a complete rupture of the muscle so that sometimes it will require repair surgery.
- Treatment (RICE):
R = rest:
You should immediately stop all activities that cause pain and aggravate the pain for a while.
After forty-eight hours, if the pain in the acute phase decreases, you can start limited movements little by little, but if the pain is still severe, you should not start the movements.
I = (ICE):
Use a cold compress to reduce inflammation. Apply a cold compress or pack three to four times on the inflamed and painful area for 20 minutes.
C = (compression):
You can wrap the painful area with an elastic band, be careful not to close too tightly.
E = (elevation):
Raise your chest above the bed to prevent further inflammation and swelling.
By observing the above points, the pain and discomfort will be relieved within one to several weeks. You can get help from ibuprofen or Advil, acetaminophen or tylenole.
If you have chronic or more severe stretching, you will often need to use physical therapy and exercise to improve the balance of the intercostal muscles in addition to the above. Sometimes in more severe cases, surgery is needed to repair it.
When to see a doctor?
Note that in the following cases, if you have chest pain, you should go to the emergency room as soon as possible:
- Pain associated with fainting
- Existence of chest pain and dizziness
- Chest pain and palpitations
- Chest pain and shortness of breath
- Chest pain and fever
- Chest pain and sweating
- Chest pain, nausea and vomiting
- Chest pain and drowsiness
Any of the above may indicate life-threatening conditions.
Also, if you still have pain with home care after a few weeks, you should see a doctor.