A pectoral tear is typically seen when the arm is externally rotated or extended while it is being contracted, such as during a bench press. A bench press requires the muscle to contract while still being forced down by the bar. An injury to the pectoral muscle or tendon is marked by chest muscle pain, commonly a sharp, sudden pain located in the front of the shoulder joint. The pain is followed by bruising, swelling and a possible visible deformity.
A partial pectoral tear may heal with non-surgical measures, such as rest, ice, modified activities, sling usage, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and a physical therapy program. Full-thickness (complete) tears often require a surgical repair (pectoralis major tendon repair) to alleviate chest muscle pain and to restore full shoulder function.
A surgical pectoralis major repair requires Dr. Millett to reattach the torn muscle and tendon to the humerus (upper arm bone) utilizing anchors and strong sutures. If possible, Dr. Millett prefers to perform the procedure as soon as possible after the initial injury since less tendon retraction and scarring is present. If a repair must be performed more than three months after the tear, he may need to utilize a tendon graft to complete the repair.
Video Demonstration of Pectoralis Major Repair
Pectoralis Major Repair Recovery and Rehabilitation
The affected arm will be placed in a sling or similar device for approximately 4-6 weeks following a surgical pectoralis major repair. Proper sling usage will help protect the joint and facilitate early healing. Patients will be encouraged to utilize ice packs to reduce chest muscle pain and swelling. A detailed physical therapy program will be prescribed to regain full shoulder function.
For additional information on chest muscle pain caused by a pectoral tear, or for more resources on a surgical pectoralis major repair, please contact the orthopedic office of Dr. Peter Millett.