How long does it take for intercostal muscles to heal?

Most cases of intercostal muscle strain can heal using only initial treatments, such as those listed above, within a few days to 8 weeks. Some severe strains may cause upper back pain to last longer; the healing period is largely reliant on the severity of the strain and the effectiveness of treatment.

What is intercostal muscles?

Intercostal muscles are muscles that present within the rib cage. Consist of three layers of muscles external, internal, and innermost layer they combine to fill the space between the ribs.

What happens when the internal intercostal muscles contract?

During expiration, the contraction of the internal intercostal muscles brings the rib cage back to its normal position and the abdominal muscles contract to assist the internal intercostal muscles and force the diaphragm upward. The respiratory system can adapt rapidly to the oxygen demands of the body.

How do you treat an intercostal muscle strain?


  1. Applying an ice pack or cold pack, followed by heat therapy.
  2. Resting and limiting all physical activity for a few days to allow time for the muscle strain to recover.
  3. Taking pain medications to reduce swelling and pain.
  4. Splinting the area if breathing is painful by holding a pillow against the injured muscle.

How do you know if you have pulled an intercostal muscle?

The symptoms of intercostal muscle strain may vary slightly, depending on how the injury occurred, and may include: Sudden, severe upper back/rib pain. Upper back pain or pain in the rib cage may be significant and come on suddenly, especially if the injury was caused by sudden impact or a blow to the chest or back.

What does intercostal muscle pain feel like?

Symptoms of intercostal muscle strain include: Pain: You may feel a sharp pain at the time of injury, or it may come on more gradually. The pain will get worse when you twist, stretch, breathe in deeply, cough, or sneeze. Tenderness: The area of the strain between your ribs will be sore to the touch.

How is intercostal muscle strain diagnosed?

A physical exam, in which the doctor will feel the painful area by hand (called palpation) to check for tenderness and swelling. A physical exam may involve bending or twisting the torso to test how movement and postures affect pain. Additionally, a doctor may use a stethoscope to listen for signs of shallow breathing.

What part of the body do the intercostal muscles attach to?

Internal intercostal muscles aid in forced expiration (quiet expiration is a passive process). They originate on ribs 2–12 and have their insertions on ribs 1–11. Their fibers pass anterior and superior from the upper margin of the rib and costal cartilage to the lower margin of the rib above.

What do the intercostal muscles do when you breathe out?

When you exhale: the external intercostal muscles relax and the internal intercostal muscles contract, pulling the ribcage downwards and inwards. the diaphragm relaxes, moving back upwards. lung volume decreases and the air pressure inside increases.

What does a pulled intercostal muscle feel like?

What are intercostal muscles?

Intercostal muscles are muscle groups that are situated in between the ribs that create and move the chest wall. The muscles are broken down into three layers, and are primarily used to assist with the breathing process. The three layers are: external intercostal muscles, internal intercostal muscles, and the innermost intercostal muscles.

How to identify and treat an intercostal muscle strain?

How to Identify and Treat an Intercostal Muscle Strain 1 Over-the-counter pain killers. While you wait to see your doctor,… 2 Hot and cold therapy. Cold therapy can help ease your pain and reduce inflammation of the muscle. 3 Epsom salt soaks. As part of your heat therapy, you may want to take a warm bath with magnesium…

Can intercostal muscles cause chest pain?

Intercostal Muscles: Pain & Trigger Points. The intercostal muscles lie between your ribs and support your respiration. If they are overloaded or carry active trigger points, they can trigger chest pain. Trigger points are very small nodules in the muscles. However, you can take action yourself.

How do the intercostal muscles support the thoracic cage?

Besides assisting respiration, all intercostal muscles groups mechanically support the intercostal spaces and thoracic cage by constantly being under a certain degree of tension during respiration. In this way they make the thoracic cage more rigid and convenient for the diaphragm to act upon.