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Bruised Pectoral Muscle: Symptoms & Treatment

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

A bruised pectoral muscle is usually the result of a direct blow to the chest by an object. In this lesson, learn about the symptoms and treatment of a bruised pectoral muscle.

Bruised Pectoral Muscle

Mike is a 32-year-old doctor who likes to stay in shape by lifting weights and jogging a few times each week. Recently, while in the gym, he was trying to break his maximum lift in the bench press. His previous best was 250 pounds, and today he was going to try to bench press 260 pounds.

Mike laid down on the bench and grabbed the bar, lifted it off the rack, and held it over his chest with his arms straight. He tried to lower the bar to his chest slowly, but the weight was too heavy, and the bar went crashing down causing a loud thud when it hit his chest. Mike's spotter helped him lift the bar back up and onto the rack.

Mike sat up on the bench and rubbed his chest, which was in a lot of pain, and he was having some difficulty breathing. He decided to end his workout early and go home. Later that night, Mike looked at his chest in the mirror and noticed that a big bruise had started to develop across his pectoral muscles.

The pectoral muscles are a group of four muscles that are located throughout the chest and function to help move the arms and shoulders. These four muscles are the pectoralis major, pectoralis minor, subclavius, and serratus anterior.

The pectoral muscles are a group of four muscles located throughout the chest.
pectoral muscles

Bruised pectoral muscles are usually caused by a direct blow to the chest. For example, they can be the result of your chest hitting the steering wheel during a car accident, getting hit in the chest by a bat or ball during a sports game, or falling onto your chest. Bruises to the pectoral muscles can also occur when they are torn, strained, or pulled.

Symptoms

Common symptoms of a bruised pectoral muscle include:

  • Chest pain
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Difficulty breathing (due to pain)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Difficulty in moving the arms and shoulders

A common symptom of a bruised pectoral muscle is chest pain.
chest pain

Treatment

Treatment for bruised pectoral muscles should begin with icing the injured area. While icing the chest, make sure to place a cloth or towel between the ice and the skin; otherwise, you can cause damage to the skin. For the first two to three days, ice should be applied every couple of hours for about twenty minutes. Be careful not to leave the ice on the injured area for too long, as this can also damage the skin.

During these first two to three days, you should also allow the pectoral muscles to rest. It's best not do any exercise that involves the use of these chest muscles. You can take over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, to help control the pain.

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