What is Serratus Anterior Muscle and What is its Function?

The Serratus Anterior is a muscle which stems from the top of the 8th or 9th upper rib and inserts into the front part of the shoulder blade. The Serratus Anterior muscle has three parts which are the superior serratus anterior, medial serratus anterior, and the inferior serratus anterior.

The main function of serratus anterior muscle is to facilitate forward rotation of the arm and pulling the scapula forwards around the rib cage. This muscle also facilitates motion of the shoulder blade laterally and also plays a key role in elevating the arm. The serratus anterior is responsible for an individual being able to lift items overhead.

Person can experience serratus anterior pain if the serratus anterior muscle gets strained or injured due to various reasons, especially in people who lift heavy objects overhead repetitively like when working in construction. Serratus anterior pain can cause difficulty lifting the arm overhead and move the shoulder normally. Conservative measures and rest is the main method to treat serratus anterior pain.

What is Serratus Anterior Muscle and What is its Function?

Signs and Symptoms of Serratus Anterior Pain

Some of the signs and symptoms of serratus anterior pain are:

  • Serratus anterior pain symptoms includes pain on the side of the chest toward the mid-ribcage.
  • Pain radiating down the arm to the fourth and fifth digits
  • Pain below the scapula.
  • Yet another symptom of serratus anterior pain includes problems breathing with inability to take a deep breath.
  • Acute sharp pain on the sides.
  • Difficulty with reaching behind the body.
  • Pain with pulling shoulders back is also a symptoms of serratus anterior pain.
  • Sensitivity in and around the breast area.

What Can Cause Serratus Anterior Pain?

Some of the activities that can cause serratus anterior pain are:

  • Swimming
  • Playing tennis
  • Doing rigorous pushups
  • Heavy weightlifting
  • Gymnastics.

Risk Factors of Serratus Anterior Pain

Some of the medical conditions which can result in Serratus Anterior Pain are:

What is the Treatment for Serratus Anterior Pain?

What is the Treatment for Serratus Anterior Pain?

Some of the treatments for Serratus Anterior Pain are:

Cold Therapy Treatment for Serratus Anterior Pain: There are many forms of gels and cold packs available in the market and over the counter which can go a long way in helping with treatment of serratus anterior pain. The gels that are available can be used immediately when you start experiencing pain. These gels immediately cool the inflamed area. The gel is used by rubbing it in the area of pain and tenderness.

Warm Therapy Treatment for Serratus Anterior Pain: This is also an effective mode of treating serratus anterior pain. The gel provides adequate warmth to the injured area without actually burning the area. It works magnificently in relieving serratus anterior muscle pain due to strain or injury. This gel needs to be put at the injured area at least two to three times a day for optimum results. It should be noted here that warm therapy should never be used when using ice packs or heat packs as this may result in blistering of the skin.

NSAIDs: Nonsteroidal Antiinflammatories in the form of ibuprofen and Tylenol can be used for controlling serratus anterior pain and inflammation.

Modification of Activities: It is also important to restrain from activities that aggravate serratus anterior pain like weight lifting or gymnastics. Taking time off from these activities to allow the serratus anterior muscle pain to heal is also very effective in treating serratus anterior strain or injury.

Breathing Exercises: Irregular breathing is one of the major causes for Serratus Anterior Muscle Strain. You can learn to breathe normally by consulting a physician who will give you various breathing exercises which can be effective in treating Serratus Anterior Pain. You can also do yoga which has proved to be excellent when it comes to breathing normally. You can consult a yoga guru to inquire as to how to begin breathing exercises.

Braces: Braces are also an effective way to treat Serratus Anterior Muscle Strain or injury. You can consult a physician who can advise you on the exact brace to be worn for the best result in treating serratus anterior pain caused due to serratus anterior muscle strain or injury.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: September 3, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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