Coughing is an instinctive, forceful activity that can strain the muscles of your body vigorously. When you are suffering from an uncontrollable, hacking cough, you may pull a muscle. You can experience a pulled muscle in any part of the body. However, the chest muscles and the abdominal muscles are most likely to get pulled due to coughing. A severe, prolonged coughing spell often strains the muscles so badly that minor tears develop on the muscle fibers.
The most prominent symptom of a pulled muscle is that you feel a sharp pain at the injury site every time you cough. The intensity of the pain often varies from mild to severe and it depends on the severity of damage caused to the muscles. The pain tends to get aggravated when you try to flex the affected muscle. The spot is tender to touch and you can feel some stiffness and swelling in the area. If it is a serious injury in the chest or abdominal muscles, then you can feel the pain even when you breathe. The pain intensifies when the muscles are contracted for breathing and it eases off a little when the muscles undergo relaxation. Sometimes, when chest or abdominal muscles are hurt, one may find it difficult to bend down or twist the body as well.
A pulled muscle from coughing is usually a minor form of injury and can be treated at home. What you need to do is protect the muscle from any further injury in order to ensure faster healing. It is essential that you allow the body proper rest so that the stress on the injured muscle can be minimized. While resting, you should try to keep the injury site at a position above the level of the heart to control swelling. However, it is not possible to elevate a pulled muscle in the chest or abdomen region. In that case, you can raise the painful side of the body by placing a few pillows under the body. It may not be a comfortable position to lie down in but it can release the tension from the muscles to a great extent. Lying on the opposite side of the location of the pulled muscle is another possible solution.
Ice application provides the much-needed soothing relief from the muscle strain from coughing. Wrap an ice cube in a piece of cloth and place it over the muscle for 15 minutes. Reapply it over and over again in the first 2 - 3 days after the injury. This can bring down the pain as well as the inflammation. Do not apply any heat on the muscle in the first few days as long as there is some inflammation visible. As the inflammation subsides, you can apply heat with the help of a heating pad or take a hot bath. The applied heat will improve blood circulation in the area and the damage in the muscles will heal faster.
Constant coughing often makes it difficult to limit the movement of muscles. Therefore, it is equally important that you take some measures to control the intensity of cough. Medicines like cough suppressants and expectorants should be taken as per the instructions of your doctor. Cough lozenges are also good as they decrease the tickling sensation in the lining of the throat and control the cough. Another medicine that some may need for treating pulled muscles is pain killers. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen can be taken for relieving the unbearable pain. However, it is essential that you consult a doctor before taking any medicines.
Do not try to massage the pulled muscles. This is because, if you rub your fingers over the muscle, the movement of the muscles may have a damaging effect on the fragile muscle fibers. While recovering from a pulled muscle, you should not drink alcohol or smoke, as these substances slow down the healing process.
A pulled muscle usually takes 3 - 4 days to heal. However, if the home treatments fail to bring about any improvement in the condition in the first 2 - 3 days, you must visit a doctor for treatment. In case the location of the pulled chest muscle is in close vicinity to any of the rib bones, the matter could be a serious issue, and could even indicate broken ribs. This condition needs to be treated under medical supervision only.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.