Pectoralis Major Tendon Tear or "Pec" Tear

What is a pectoralis major tendon tear or Pec tendon?

The pectoralis major or “pec” is the large muscle of the chest. It is responsible for pushing the arm forward such as in push ups or bench press. Sometimes the tendon that connects this muscle to the arm bone can tear.

What causes a Pec tendon tear?

The Pec tendon can tear either from a trauma such as a fall or an accident, in sports, or, most commonly, from lifting heavy weights.

What are the symptoms of a Pec tendon tear?

When the Pec tendon tears the person will often feel a ripping sensation in the front part of their chest next to the shoulder. They usually also experience pain and a sudden loss of strength. Swelling and bruising is common.

How to tell if you have a Pec tendon tear?

Your doctor will do a physical exam. X-rays are important. An MRI is useful to determine where exactly the Pec tendon tore.

How are Pec tendon tears treated?

If the Pec tear is allowed to heal on its own, the person will usually have continued weakness and deformity on the torn side  (see video). Because of this and the fact that most Pec tendon tears occur in physically active people, most people will choose to have their tear fixed with surgery. The surgery involves a 2 inch incision in the crease of the armpit. It takes 45 minutes. After the surgery the person must not use the arm for anything heavy for 6 weeks (see Pec tendon surgery).