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Pectoralis Minor Muscle: Shoulder, Upper Back, Chest, Arm, Finger Pain

Stabbing pain in the chest, aching in the front of the shoulder going down the inside of the arm can indicate pectoralis minor dysfunction

Stabbing pain in toward the outside of the upper chest, aching and tingling in the front of the shoulder going down the inside of the arm into the palm spreading into the  ring and little finger  can indicate pectoralis minor dysfunction

  • Chest pain
  • Burning and stabbing like pain in the pectoral (chest) area
  • Pain in the front of the shoulder
  • Pain in the inner arm, inner elbow traveling down to the into the fourth and fifth fingers
  • Numbness in the inside of the forearm, wrist, hand and fingers
  • Difficulty reaching forward and up
  • Pain in the upper back between the shoulder blades
  • Pain when reaching behind the body
  • Rounded shoulder posture

Where is the pectoralis minor muscle?

The pectoralis minor attaches the front of the shoulder blade to the 3rd, 4th and 5th ribs.

What movements does the pectoralis minor muscle control?

  • Pulls the shoulder and shoulder blade down
  • Lifts the upper ribs during inhalation

Activities that cause pectoralis minor pain and symptoms:

  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Pushing things away from the body
  • Push ups
  • Lifting objects with arms straight in front of the body
  • Working with your arms out in front of you (computer)
  • Keeping your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up
  • Carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one shoulder
  • Hyperventilation,  difficulty breathing
  • Chronic cough
  • Under-wire bras
  • Large breasts
  • Whiplash

Interesting facts about the pectoralis minor muscle:

  • The pec minor is a major contributor to rounded shoulder posture. When the pectoralis minor muscle tightens and shortens, it pulls the shoulders forward which then causes upper back pain.
  • The pectoralis minor along with the scalenes, are known as neurovascular entrappers. Tight shortened pec minor and scalene muscles can put pressure on the axillary artery as well as nerves in the neck / shoulder area restricting circulation to the arm and causing symptoms such as numbness and tingling.
  • Pectoralis minor pain patterns closely mimic the pectoralis major pain patterns. Pectoralis minor pain tends to be more intense in the front of the shoulder than pec major pain.
The pectoralis minor muscle connects the 3rd, 4th, and 5th ribs to the coracoid process located on the front of the shoulder blade.

You use the pectoralis minor when you drop or pull your shoulder down and when you take a deep breath the pec minor helps raise the ribs to expand the chest area.

Clinical diagnoses to which symptoms and pain of the pectoralis minor may contribute:

  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Whiplash
  • Supraspinatus tendonitis
  • Adhesive capsulitis (Frozen shoulder)
  • Shoulder pointer
  • Neurovascular entrapment
  • Subdeltoid bursitis
  • Bicipital tendonitis
  • Medial epicondylitis (golfer's elbow)
  • Shoulder pointer
  • Glenohumeral joint separation
  • Hernia
  • Pleurisy
  • Gallbladder dysfunction
  • Heart disease

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the pectoralis minor:

Satellite Trigger Points: Pectoralis Major, Scalenes, Sternocleidomastoid, Anterior Deltoid, Sternalis Muscle

Affected Organ Systems: Respiratory and Cardiovascular Systems

For detailed pectoralis minor muscle anatomy: Pectoralis Minor Muscle Anatomy: Origin, Insertion, Actions 

Help with Pectoralis Minor Muscle Pain and Symptoms

Cold Therapy Gel For Pectoralis Muscle Injury and Pain

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better than warm therapy gels and creams for recent injury muscle pain as it cools the area much like ice and does not promote swelling. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If your pain is from a recently pulled pec muscle I would recommend Biofreeze. Rub into the chest and front of the shoulder including around the tip of the shoulder for pain reduction.

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Warm Therapy For Chronic and Post Injury Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and in my massage therapy practice. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain. For pectoralis minor pain, rub Sombra into the chest, and front of the shoulder. If you are experiencing arm pain due to the pectoralis muscles, rub Sombra on the inside of the arm down to the last two fingers. The pectoralis muscles  can also contribute to upper back pain which can also be greatly reduced with Sombra.

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief.

Hot Cold Pack For Pectoralis Pain and Injury

SofTouch Large Hot Cold Pack is a large pack that can be used for hot or cold treatment. The pack is large enough to lay across the chest to treat the pectoralis muscles and cover the upper back to relieve upper back pain caused by the pec muscles. The inside of the pack contains a clay-like substance that remains soft and pliable so you can mold the pack to your body. The outside of the pack is wrapped with soft suede like material that does not shock the skin when touched. My clients love this pack and it is now the only hot and cold pack that I use in my massage therapy practice.


Pillow To Relax and Stretch The Pectoral Muscles To Help Shoulder, Neck, and Upper Back Pain

Soothe-a-ciser: Relief for neck and shoulder pain helps relieve pressure and pain in the neck, shoulders and upper back.  10 - 15 minutes laying on the pillow allows muscles in the neck, chest, shoulders and upper back to relax and can relieve or even stop some headaches. It can work especially well for those with tight pectoral (chest)  muscles, and people who have slumping upper posture or rounded shoulders. A great pillow for people who work at desks and computers.


Braces and Support for Pectoral Muscle Shoulder and Upper Back Pain

Rounded shoulders and slumping upper body posture are often caused by shortened tight pectoralis muscles which over stretches upper back muscles causing sore and painful upper back muscles. If you are having upper back pain across the shoulders, going down the middle upper back to the shoulder blades, chances are the pain is caused by the pectoralis muscles.

Shoulders Back Posture Support gently pulls your shoulders back helping you maintain straight correct posture while stretching and elongating the chest muscles.

I use this brace myself when I begin to feel twinges of pain in my shoulders and upper back. I have recommended it to family, friends, and clients who have pain due to slumping upper body and rounded shoulder posture. If you have rounded shoulders, begin using the brace slowly for short periods of time. As your body adjusts, you can tighten the support and use it for longer time periods. This brace is not a rigid support, you can still move comfortably and freely, it does not forcibly hold your shoulders down and back.


Self Treatment For Chest, Shoulder, Arm and Upper Back Muscle Pain Caused By Pectoralis Minor Muscle

The pectoral muscles contribute to pain in the chest, shoulders, arms and upper back. If you are suffering from unresolved pain in these areas consider purchasing Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain, how to find the trigger point and treat it. It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body. If you are suffering from unrelenting shoulder, arm and upper back pain treating the trigger points in the pectoralis minor muscle can help reduce or eliminate your pain. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.

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