What is the intercostal muscle, and what does it feel like when you strain it? The intercostal muscle is what holds your ribs in place and connects them. When you pull this muscle or strain it, you will feel pain when you bend, twist, or use your torso to pick things up. Doing something like sweeping the floor or mopping might cause you to have a sharp pain in your ribs.
This is an excruciating strain for some but can also be mild, depending on the extent of the injury. If a muscle is actually torn, it will be far more painful than just a strained muscle. A strained muscle will still be very uncomfortable, but there are things you can do to help feel less pain and expedite healing.
What to Do When You Strain Your Intercostal Muscle
The first thing you should do is stop physical activity for a few days until you feel better. Muscle strain hurts that explained here Vitaleaf Naturals, no matter where it is. It’s best not to do any heavy lifting, bending, stooping, weightlifting is out. What else should you do?
OTC (over the counter) pain medications can help. These include Tylenol and ibuprofen. These may upset your stomach, and you must be careful with the dosage.
You are using warm compresses and cold packs back in alternation. The cold packs can help reduce the swelling that comes with the inflammation of a pulled muscle while the warmth helps to loosen the muscle and ease the tension. Try doing cold for 20 minutes and then heat for 20 minutes. Be careful not to place the hot or cold directly on bare skin. Wrap your compresses in a kitchen towel or a tee shirt and then apply them so that you don’t damage your skin.
A warm bath. This can have the same impact as a warm compress. You can soak in a warm bath to bring you a sense of relaxation.
Breathe deeply as much as you can. It’s tempting to breathe very shallowly when your ribs hurt. The problem with this is that shallow breathing is very bad for your lungs. It opens the door to pneumonia and bronchitis getting started, which can lead to coughing that will put you in far more pain than had you practiced some deep breathing exercises each day. It will be tender but can help initiate faster healing for you.
If you have ever used CBD oil or have thought about it, now is an excellent time to give it a try. CBD/cannabis can help provide you relief from the pain and prompt your body to begin the healing process much faster. It’s a better option than taking too many NSAIDs, mainly if you already take medications that prevent you from using them from the beginning.
If you are unsure if you’ve injured your ribs or strained your intercostal muscle, you should see your doctor for a proper diagnosis. Most pulled and strained muscles will begin to feel better in a few days. If your pain persists, it may be far more severe than a strain.
Getting a Diagnosis
Your doctor will ask you some questions as to how and when this pain started. What were you doing before the illness? Did you fall, twist, or pick something substantial up? Your doctor will put the pieces of the puzzle together, do a physical exam that will include applying some pressure to the area and asking you to bend until you feel pain so that he can observe your mobility loss.
It’s possible that your doctor will take some x-rays of your chest and ribs to make sure that you haven’t damaged your ribs or bruised internal organs. Some types of injuries can cause the lungs to be punctured by the ribs. If you’re having pain or shortness of breath, your doctor will want to rule out any damage to your lungs.
Muscle strains are scored depending on your answers and the results of your tests.
Grade 1: This is a mild form of strain that will self-resolve with no intervention.
Grade 2: There is no tearing of the muscle, but the damage is severe enough to take up to 2 or 3 months to heal completely. You’ll be instructed not to do any bending, twisting, or lifting during this time.
Grade 3: You’ve torn the muscle and possibly need surgical intervention.
If you require surgical repair of the damage, there’s a possibility that you’ll also need to attend physical therapy after surgery to ensure that you heal well without losing any range of motion and mobility that can occur with scar tissue builds and causes muscle atrophy. The good news is that you may be eligible to look for at-home physical therapists, instead of having to travel to get the treatment you need. Places like Luna have therapists situated in San Jose, (https://www.getluna.com/locations/san-jose-physical-therapy), so residents in this area will be able to receive their physical treatment therapy from the comfort of their own home. Even so, make sure you get the relevant medical assistance if you need it.
Luckily, the vast majority of strains are minor and will resolve by just giving yourself some time and rest and following the instructions for helping your body through the healing process.