Symptoms of a pulled rib muscle

Updated June 13, 2017

A strenuous workout or using poor techniques to lift a heavy object can cause you to pull a muscle near your ribs. The symptoms of a pulled rib muscle can usually be treated at home with rest and over-the-counter pain relievers, but if your pain doesn't go away, you may need a prescription from your doctor.


A pulled muscle in your rib may cause you to experience stiffness in your upper body, including your chest, shoulders and neck.


You may notice swelling around your ribs, chest and breast area after pulling a rib muscle. The swelling can range from mild to severe.


Bruises may develop on your skin in the area where you pulled the muscle, although they may extend outward, if the pull was serious.


Pain in your chest, ribs, back, shoulders and neck may result from a pulled rib muscle, and can result in a temporary inability to lift objects or bend at the waist.


Your upper body muscles may feel weak and tender after pulling a rib muscle, as a result of small tears in the muscles and tendons. Full strength may not return for several weeks.

Difficulty Breathing

You may experience difficulty breathing after pulling a muscle in your ribs, especially when you take a deep breath or participate in physical activity.

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About the Author

Jessica Lietz has been writing about health-related topics since 2009. She has several years of experience in genetics research, survey design, analysis and epidemiology, working on both infectious and chronic diseases. Lietz holds a Master of Public Health in epidemiology from The Ohio State University.