Saturday, August 6, 2016

Pectoralis Muscle Injuries

It is the start of football training camps across the country and already there have been reports of pectoralis muscle injuries leading to lost time and frequently surgery. Manny Lawson the Buffalo Bills outside linebacker expects to miss time with a partial tear. The Bengals' first round draft pick William Jackson III a cornerback will have surgery shortly for a complete tear as did Desmond Bryant a defensive lineman for the Browns. Previously, we discussed rotator cuff injuries, but this represents a different type of shoulder muscle injury.

The pectoral musccle is in the front of the chest and is active in use of the arm extended away from the body or in pushing objects away from the chest. It has 4 parts with the major portion attaching to the humerus (arm bone) as a thick tendon.

Many are muscle strains that represent a partial tear of the muscle much like a hamstring strain. These do not require surgery and will recover with ice and rest followed by physical therapy including stretching and strengthening. A complete pectoral tear involves the tendon pulling off the bone. This typically requires reattachment to the bone to restore function in healthy active individuals.

Frequently the injuries occur while weight lifting especially bench press. Also specific football acts that increase the risk is using the arms in extended fashion away from the body as offensive lineman do frequently.

Diagnosis is made by a loss of contour of the chest in the front, pain, weakness and significant bruising. An MRI can help determine the severity of a partial tear, but may not be necessary for a complete tear diagnosis.

Commonly this is a 3-6 month recovery for most athletes with 6 weeks of minimal activity followed by 6 weeks of intensive rehabilitation. At this point more functional rehabilitation and training can occur, but it is difficult to return to true sports before 4-6 months. Thus, it is frequently a season ending injury especially for offensive linemen.

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