Brief Outline of Pectoral Muscle Insertion Inflammation

The pectoralis major or pectoral muscle is used in many sports when the arms act to push away a weight (as during weight lifting) or another athlete (during various contact sports). Repetitive activity, particularly bench pressing, can cause irritation to the muscle or tendon’s insertion point, leading to discomfort and loss of mobility.

Anatomy and physiology

The large pectoralis major muscle forms the anterior wall of the axilla, and has its origin in the clavicle, sternum, and first six costal cartilages, inserting in the greater tubicle of the humerus bone. The muscle adducts and medially rotates the humerus. The clavicular portion flexes and medially rotates the shoulder joint, and horizontally adducts the humerus towards the opposite hip. It is one of the main climbing muscles, pulling the body up to the fixed arm.

Cause of Injury

Excessive load on the pectoralis major muscle, especially when bench-pressing. Excessive force against the pectoral from pushing activities in contact sports. A fall on to one or both outstretched arms.

Signs and symptoms

Pain and weakness in the shoulder. Difficulty raising the arm. Pain or stiffness during lifting.

Complications if left unattended

Irritation of the pectoral muscle insertion will become further aggravated if it is neglected. Tears in the muscle or tendon can develop, leading to increased pain and weakness and the danger of long-term degeneration of muscle and tendon. Should tearing at the insertion point become serious, surgery may be required to repair it.


  • Stop the activity that is causing irritation
  • Physiotherapy
  • Injection
  • Shockwave therapy

Rehabilitation and prevention

Thorough healing time must be allowed for the pectoral muscle and associated tendons. Strength training of the pectorals through weights and fraded calisthenics will generally help restore the athlete to prior condition, providing that no serious tearing of the muscle has resulted. Attention to proper weight training technique and a gradual, rather than sudden increase in stress on the pectoral muscle, can help prevent this injury.

Long-term prognosis

Given proper care and healing time, combined with gradual strength training of the pectoral muscles and complex of shoulder muscles, the athlete may generally expect a full return to normal activity.

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