A number of health conditions can cause a significant amount of pain and discomfort for people. Such conditions can greatly affect the overall quality and wellness of people if left untreated or unaddressed. One such condition is known as breast muscle strain or pulled chest muscle. But what are the symptoms of this condition and what are possible remedies? In this article, we will look at what a breast muscle strain is, its symptoms, and its remedies.
Breast Muscle Strain or Pulled Chest Muscle: A Brief Backgrounder
A pulled chest muscle, also known as breast muscle strain, is a health condition that can result in chest pain. A strain or pull in the muscle can be caused by stretched or torn muscles. Almost half of the cases of pulled chest muscle or breast muscle strain comes from an intercostal strain of the muscles. Intercostal muscles are made up of three (3) layers and these are the same muscles that are responsible for aiding the individual in the stabilization of the upper body and for breathing.
Some of the common symptoms of breast muscle strain include bruising, pain while breathing, pain in the area when moved, spasms of the muscles, swelling, and dull (a strain that is chronic) and acute (a strain that is acute) pain. Patients are advised to seek immediate attention from a healthcare professional if muscle strain happens during or while doing some activities that are strenuous. If the pain comes with some other symptoms, a trip to the emergency room may be warranted. These symptoms include sleepiness, fever, irritability, difficulty breathing, racing pulse, sweating, dizziness, and fainting. This is because the said symptoms can be an indication of something more serious such as a heart attack.
Possible Causes of Breast Muscle Strain or Pulled Chest Muscle
Overuse is the main culprit behind pulled muscle or breast muscle strain. It could be due to the individual lifting a heavy object or incurring an injury while doing athletic activities (sports, leisure, etc.) Other types of activities that make people prone to breast muscle strain include golf, tennis, rowing, and gymnastics which all require motions that are repetitive resulting in strains that are chronic. Some daily activities can also lead to muscle strain or pulled chest muscles. These include:
- Injuries caused by machinery that malfunctioned
- Muscle fatigue
- Poor overall condition or flexibility
- Not warming up before physical activities
- Twisting the body while lifting
- Injuries due to strong impact caused by car accidents or sports
having your arms up in the air for extended periods.
Some other medical conditions can also lead to breast muscle strain and these include chest colds or bronchitis. Coughing can also lead to a pulled muscle.
It is also important to keep in mind the risk factors of developing breast muscle strain. These include the following:
- Falling can make older people more prone to injuries of the chest and the chest wall
- Athletic activities or other accidents can be more common in adults leading to breast muscle strain or chest pulls
- The group with the lowest risk of developing a breast muscle strain are children.
How is Breast Muscle Strain Diagnosed?
For people who are worrying about whether or not they have strained breast muscles or pulled muscles of the chest, it is best to consult with a healthcare professional. The doctor will check on the symptoms experienced, review your medical history, and assess any possible activity that may have resulted in the said medical condition. These strains in the chest muscles can be classified as either chronic or acute. Chronic strains are usually brought about by activities that are done long-term which include motions that are repetitive and commonly employed in daily tasks or other sports activities. On the other hand, strains that are acute can be brought about by direct trauma that happens right after an injury is sustained such as in a motor vehicle accident or a fall.
Based on the said classification of the strain, these are further assigned a grade based on how severe they really are. These gradings are:
- Grade 3: Grade 3 is the complete rupture of the muscle and will commonly need surgical intervention
- Grade 2: This grade means there is increased damage and while the rupture in the muscle is not really complete, there is a loss of mobility and strength.
- Grade 1: This grade indicates muscle damage that is mild, covering around 5% of the muscle fibers only.
To make sure that the pain the patient is feeling is not being caused by bone fractures, heart attacks, or other health issues, a number of tests may be conducted such as ECG or electrocardiogram, MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and X-Ray. Other causes of chest pain that may be checked by the doctor will include pericarditis, esophageal reflux or other digestive upsets, peptic ulcers, anxiety attacks, and injuries that may result in bruising. Other possible medical conditions that are much serious include aortic dissection or a tear in an individual’ aorta, pulmonary embolism or a blood clot in the lung’s pulmonary artery, and angina or blood flow to the heart that is reduced.
What Are The Possible Treatment Options and Remedies?
For Breast muscle strains that are classified as mild, the first line of treatment may simply be R-I-C-E, which is the abbreviation for Rest, Ice, Compression, and elevation. These include the following activities:
- Rest (R): Activities should be stopped once the pain in the chest becomes noticeable. After two (2) days, activities that are light may be resumed. However, if the pain comes back, further rest should be observed.
- Ice (I): Cold packs or ice packs should also be applied to the area that is affected thrice a day with intervals of 20 minutes.
- Compression (C): Using an elastic bandage, the affected area may be wrapped to fight off any further inflammation. The bandage should not be too tight though so as not to have circulation impaired.
- Elevation (E): The chest should be kept elevated especially in the evening. Using a recliner to sleep could be of great help.