Pectoralis Major Strain

Pec major muscle strain

A Pectoralis major strain is a tear of the large powerful muscle at the front of the chest. The muscle rotates the arm inwards and is the main muscle for the bench press exercise.



Symptoms of a pec major sprain include:

  • Sudden sharp pain at the front of the upper arm, near the shoulder
  • Rapid swelling of the front of the shoulder and upper arm
  • A visible gap or lump in the muscle

One test which helps diagnose torn pec muscle is medial rotation against resistance. It involves getting the patient to pull or rotate their arm across the front of their chest against resistance. The test is positive if it reproduces the pain.

What is a Pectoralis major strain?

The pectoralis major muscle is a large powerful muscle at the front of the chest.

It most likely ruptures at the point where it inserts into the arm (humerus). This is its weak point and is more common in weight training, especially when performing a bench press.

Treatment of a pectoralis major strain

If you suspect a torn pectoral muscle then seek professional medical attention as soon as possible. It is often a serious muscle injury which may require surgery.

What can the athlete do?

Apply the P.R.I.C.E. principles (rest, ice, compression, elevation) at least for the first two days.

Apply ice or cold therapy for 10 to 15 minutes every hour initially decreasing as symptoms reduce.

What can a sports injury specialist or doctor do?

A surgeon operates if it is a total rupture of the tendon. They re-attached the torn tendon to the humerus bone. If they don’t operate then you may have long-term deformity and loss of shoulder function.

A long rest period followed by a full rehab program is essential.

Sports massage aids in healing after the acute stage.

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