Pectoralis Major Inflammation

Inflammation of Pectoralis Major involves tendon as well as muscle. The inflammation is often seen in young individuals involved in frequent weight lifting. The pectoralis major muscle is located in front of chest wall. The contraction of Pectoralis Major Muscles help to bring upper arm inward in front of the chest wall and also rotate to touch the opposite shoulder. Trauma or forceful activities among athletes often result in inflammation of Pectoralis Muscle and Tendons resulting in painful symptoms.

Pectoralis Major Inflammation

This article discusses mainly about:

What Is Pectoralis Major Muscle Inflammation?

  • Pectoralis Major Muscle lies in front of chest wall. The inner or medial tendon of the muscle originates from surface of breastbone (sternum) and collarbone (clavicle). The lateral or outer end of the muscle continues as lateral (outer) tendon and attaches to humerus.
  • The inflammation of the Pectoralis Major Muscle and its Tendon is quite rare. The inflammation of the Pectoralis Major Muscle or Tendon is very painful and causes significant disability.
  • Such injury in athletes is detrimental and causes disability over 3 to 4 months.
  • The muscle or tendon inflammation is common in athletes participating in certain contact sports like football, soccer and wrestling.
  • The Pectoralis Major is a sturdy muscle, which facilitates smooth movement of the arm inwards and close to the body. It also facilitates movement of the arm forwards or backwards.

Causes Of Pectoralis Major Inflammation

Pectoralis Major Inflammation Caused By Sports Injury-

  • The Pectoralis Major inflammation of the muscle or tendon is often seen in patient participating in contact sports.
  • Contact sport causes surface trauma to muscles and ligament, which results in inflammation of muscles.
  • The surface trauma causes micro tear of muscle tissue, which often follows inflammation.
  • Bench pressing is found to be the most common cause of Pectoralis Major Inflammation among athletes.

Pectoralis Major Inflammation Caused By Weight Lifting and Exercises-

  • Daily or frequent weight lifting for improving muscle strength may result in muscle inflammation.
  • Uncoordinated joint movement while muscle in contraction causes excessive stress on muscle fibers, which may result in micro-trauma of tendon and muscles. Such trauma follows inflammation.

Pectoralis Major Inflammation Caused By Muscle Overstretch-

  • The inflammation may follow overstretching of tendon and muscles during sleep or at work.
  • Rapid rotation of the arm can cause overstretching of the Pectoralis Muscle and Tendon.
  • Injury caused by muscle overstretching is often observed in age group between 20 to 40 years.
  • Overstretching is rare in elderly individual but domestic slip and fall can cause Pectoralis Muscle Inflammation in older patient.

Pectoralis Major Inflammation Caused By Autoimmune Diseases-

  • Patient suffering with autoimmune disease are prone to develop inflammatory muscle disease. Pectoralis Major Muscle inflammation has been observed in autoimmune patient.A

Symptoms Of Pectoralis Major Inflammation

Acute Pain-

  • Pain originates as mild to moderate pain with activities.
  • Later in 7 to 10 days pain become severe at rest and with activities as inflammation become active.
  • Pain responds to NSAIDs and rest.

Muscle Spasm-

  • Pectoralis Muscle Spasm often is associated with muscle inflammation. Spasm is continuous and painful.

Restricted Shoulder Joint Movement-

  • Shoulder joint movement results in increased intensity of pain. Patient prefers to restrict the shoulder joint movement.

Diagnosis of Pectoralis Major Inflammation

Clinical Examination-

  • The clinical examination suggests tenderness over Pectoralis Major Muscle.
  • Pectoralis major muscle spasm is observed on palpation.
  • Intensity of Pectoralis Muscle pain increases when shoulder joint of same side is moved.

Radiological Studies-

  • X-Ray, CT Scan and MRI are performed to rule out fracture and dislocation.

Treatment For Pectoralis Major Inflammation

Cold Therapy For Pectoralis Major Inflammation

  • Cold therapy like local application of ice pack is helpful to reduce pain.
  • Cold therapy also helps to reduce the edema and swelling of the muscles and surrounding tissue.

Sling and Shoulder Support For Pectoralis Major Inflammation

  • Joint is immobilized by using sling.
  • Immobilization of the joint helps to decrease pain and muscle edema.

Medications For Pectoralis Major Inflammation

  • Pain-
    • NSAIDs- NSAIDs are anti-inflammatory medications. NSAIDs are prescribed for pain and inflammation. If side effects are not a problem then NSAIDs are prescribed for 2 to 3 weeks for muscle inflammation. Most common NSAIDs used are Motrin, Naproxen and Celebrex.
    • Opioids- Opioids are prescribed for severe pain and when pain is not responding to NSAIDs. Most common opioids used are Hydrocodone and Oxycodone.
  • Muscle Spasm
    • Muscle spasm is treated with muscle relaxants.
    • Most common muscle relaxants used are baclofen, flexeril and skelaxin.

Physical Therapy (PT) For Pectoralis Major Inflammation

  • Physical therapy during active inflammation is advised for arm and chest muscles, which are normal. The physical therapy is advised to prevent atrophy of the normal muscles.
  • Physical therapy of Pectoralis Major Muscles is advised when muscle is recovering from inflammation.
  • Physical therapy is combined with Massage Therapy when muscle is not painful.


a. Sternocleidomastoid and pectoralis major pyomyositis in an immunocompetent patient.

López-Rodríguez R1, Campos-Franco J, Mallo-González N, Alende-Sixto MR, González-Quintela A.

Orthopedics. 2008 Nov;31(11):1146.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Last Modified On: August 13, 2014

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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