The body is home to 12 pairs of ribs all separated by muscles known as the intercostal muscles. These muscles are used when you breathe to force air in and out of your chest, which is why a strenuous workout or activity that places excessive force on the rib cage (such as lifting a heavy object) can cause strain and pulled muscles. If you think you may have pulled a rib muscle, try the following to treat pain and inflammation.
Symptoms of a Strained Rib Muscle
A pulled rib muscle also is another name for a strained muscle. This means the muscle has been stretched or partially torn, which can cause the following symptoms: stiffness, but not just around the ribs--the chest, shoulders and neck also may feel stiff; swelling, especially around the ribs and chest area that results from torn blood vessels; bruising; pain--while it makes sense that a strained rib would cause pain, problems when lifting or picking up objects may especially indicated a strained muscle; trouble breathing.
Treatment Options Muscle Strains
When it comes to a pulled rib, the first best action is to rest the muscle to give it time to repair itself. While there is no uniform time frame for recovery, generally when the muscle pain subsides, the injury has healed. To prevent pain and torn muscles, wear a rib belt, an elastic belt that limits chest expansions and therefore helps prevent pain and breathing difficulties. Icing the affected area may also help reduce swelling. If you try these methods, yet no relief is experienced within 24 hours, see a doctor to determine if your injury is more serious and you need treatment for lower back pain.
Prevention of Future Injuries
While pulled muscles often occur by accident, it is possible to take a few precautionary measures to ensure you are not injured again, such as stretching and warming up the muscles prior to exercise, strenuous activity or heavy lifting. Also, gradually increasing your exercise program (not to trying to overload your body all at once) may help prevent injury.