Pectoralis Tendon Rupture


The pectoralis muscle is a large muscle that is located at the front of your chest. It helps move your shoulder forward and across your chest. It is divided into two parts called the pectoralis major and the pectoralis minor. The pectoralis major is the larger muscle of the two that helps to push the arms in front of the body. 

The pectoralis muscle or its tendons can rupture and occurs only in men between 20 and 50 years of age. It is rare, but the pectoralis muscle can partially or completely tear. Complete tears are more commonly seen and occurs when the tendinous attachment of the muscle to the bone tears. These tears are often caused by forceful activities such as weightlifting, especially during bench pressing. Proper bench press technique can prevent pectoralis muscle rupture. It is important to limit the distance to which the bar is lowered and narrow your grip between your hands to the bar. Other traumatic injuries due to collision sports may also result in pectoralis tendon rupture. Research has shown that these injuries are more likely seen in patients who use steroid medication. 

When your pectoralis muscle ruptures, you will experience sudden severe pain and a tearing sensation in your chest. Pain may also trickle into your upper arm and the rupture may cause bruising, dimpling, or pocket formation above your arm pit.

Anatomy of the Shoulder

Shoulder Diagram

The pectoralis muscle is a large muscle that is located at the front of your chest. It helps move your shoulder forward and across your chest.


Upon rupture, apply ice and immobilize your shoulder, arm, and chest. Be examined by Dr. Stowell as soon as possible to minimize muscle atrophy and scarring. Dr. Stowell may likely need to perform surgery if you have completely torn your pectoral muscle tendon. He may place large sutures in the torn tendon and secure them to the arm bone with either holes in the bone or anchors inserted in the bone. Patients who undergo surgery have a good chance of returning to high-level sports and activities.

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