A while back, injuries to the chest muscles were practically non-existent, but now, pectoralis injuries are becoming pretty common. Actually, according to a recent study, it was noted that there 76% of such injuries in the last decade.
Pectoralis injuries are muscle injuries that range from contusions (bruises) to inflammation, and even tears in the chest. These result in pain, deformities, and ultimate weakness in the contour of your chest. Eventually, there shall be a decline in the overall shoulder function.
Some of these injuries mostly occur in active individuals who participate in sport or who perform heavy labor, and it can result in either a chronic overuse or an acute traumatic event. Pectoralis major tears are usually common in younger males who lift weights and also in the older athletes who do not do adequate warm-ups. When these injuries occur, they mostly disable especially the athletes.
Causes Of These Injuries
With time, prolonged and repetitive activity might cause the tendons in your pectoralis major muscles to become degenerated and result in strains. These chronic muscle imbalances, tightness, weaknesses, and abnormal biomechanics, mostly when combined with excessive training can contribute to the development of a pectoral strain.
These strains and tears to the pectoralis muscle usually happen when there is a force that goes through the tendon and the muscle that is greater than what they can be able to withstand. Most of the time, this happens when you are training with weights, and especially when doing the bench press, pectoral fly, or chest press.
A good example is when too much force has been applied to the muscle which is already at its maximum stretch point, then the downward movement of the bench press causes the tendon juncture to rapture. If this occurs, you will feel a sharp pain accompanied by a pop.
Symptoms And Diagnosis
After a major tear, you may have some bruising, or swelling, or deformity of the chest and your upper arms. Additionally, you might report some loss of strength or pain when trying to push weights with extremities.
This pain can be localized around the chest area and in front of your shoulders and armpits. It can radiate into the neck or upper arm, and it might increase from an ache to very sharp pain, with more activity.
When the injury is at an acute phase, the doctor will conduct a physical exam which might be a little difficult to do if there is swelling from the injury, and this can also distort the shoulder, which makes the pain feel very strong.
After the swelling has been resolved, the chest and shoulder contours may appear to be normal.
The treatment for a pectoralis injury mostly depends on the severity of the injury and the extent of the muscle function. Your general activity level and health also determine the treatment options.
Non-surgical treatments can be considered in patients who have low demand and who are elderly or people who have tears around the muscle belly. Initially, management and immobilization, together with cold therapy and rest, followed by stretching and strengthening of the chest area can offer excellent and satisfactory functional results.
If however you really need to get back to full function and strength, and you are also concerned with your cosmetic appearance, then surgical repair is highly recommended. According to a recent study, patients who had a highly satisfied surgical repair of their pectoralis major reported a return of structure, strength, and overall function.
The need for rehabilitation after surgery varies from one person to another, and it depends on how the muscle was repaired. Generally, patients can return to normal activities anywhere between 4 and 6 months after their procedures.
The treatment and management of pectoralis major injuries are usually patient specific. In low-demand and sedentary individuals who have a complete or partial tear, nonsurgical management can be able to provide an acceptable and excellent result. All the best as you treat your torn pectoral muscle.