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Chest Wall Strain (Child)

If a muscle in the front and back of the chest is stretched or injured it is called a chest wall strain.  It may be caused by an injury during play or while participating in sports. Chest wall strain can also be caused by coughing or by lifting something heavy. This can lead to soreness or even sharp pain, but there is no serious injury or permanent damage.

Muscle strain can be treated with acetaminophen for pain or  with an anti-inflammatory medication to reduce any swelling. Heat applied to the area may also ease pain. Pain from a muscle strain usually lasts no longer than one week.

Home Care:

Medications: The doctor may prescribe medications to help ease pain. If the child has strained the chest by coughing, a cough medication may be prescribed. Follow the doctor’s instructions for giving any prescribed medications to your child. Do not give your child any medications that are not prescribed, including over-the-counter medications.

General Care:

  1. Allow your child to rest as needed.

  2. Apply a covered heating pad or warm cloth to the area for 20 minutes, 4 times a day. Warmth can be soothing and may reduce muscle swelling. Cold can also reduce swelling and pain, so alternating the heat with applying a covered bag of chipped ice or frozen vegetables to the area may also help.

  3. Have your child hold a pillow to the affected area when coughing.

  4. Call the child’s doctor if prescribed medications do not relieve the pain.

Follow Up

as advised by the doctor or our staff.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Fever greater than 100.4°F (38°C)

  • Severe pain that lasts more than 1 hour

  • Difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, fast breathing

  • Chest pain that continues for more than 7 days


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