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How long to heal a pulled chest muscle?

Updated April 17, 2017

A pulled chest muscle, also known as a chest muscle strain, happens when a muscle is abruptly pinched or pulled. A pulled chest muscle generally occurs during strenuous activities such as exercising, lifting heavy objects or even playing a sport. With proper care you can speed the healing of your pulled chest muscle.

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Healing Time

The length of time it takes a pulled chest muscle to heal depends on the severity and the kind of treatments applied. Expect a mild strain to become symptom-free after a week or two of treatment. Expect a severe pulled muscle to heal within a month's time with adequate care and rest.

Heat and Cold Therapies

Ice is used to reduce inflammation. It also slows any accompanying bleeding, according to the Mayo Clinic. Fill a plastic bag with a cup of ice. Wrap the bag with a dishcloth. Apply the ice-filled bag to the affected area for up to 20 minutes. Lightly rub the area with the ice to help the cold penetrate. Continue to use the ice treatment up to a couple of times daily the first three or four days after your injury. Heat therapies are used for any type of strain, including a pulled chest muscle. Use heat treatment four days after your injury if swelling has subsided. Take a small kitchen towel and run it under water. Wring out the towel and place it in the microwave. Check the towel every 20 seconds until it reaches the right warmth. Apply the towel to the pulled chest muscle for 10 minutes or until the cloth is no longer hot. Use heat therapy at least twice daily until symptoms have subsided.

Additional Care

Take an anti-inflammatory medication daily per package instructions to reduce swelling and pain. Choose a medication that specifies aspirin, ibuprofen, flurbiprofen or acetaminophen as the active ingredient. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that the medication does not interfere with any other drugs you are taking. Avoid strenuous activities until your symptoms have subsided for a month. Prevent another pulled chest muscle by doing light warm-ups of the chest area. Do 10 push-ups and light arm stretches half an hour before attempting any type of laborious activities.

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About the Author

Based in Pennsylvania, Jayme Lee has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her articles have appeared for various online publishers and through private clients. She dual-majored in social studies education and business administration with a minor in history at the University of Pittsburgh and Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.

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