What is a pectoralis major tear?
The pectoralis major is a powerful chest muscle that assists in many different movements of the arm. Tears of the pectoralis major tendon occur almost exclusively in males between the ages of 20 and 40 years old, and are especially common in those who participate in bodybuilding and weightlifting. While partial tears can occur, these are less common, and usually a complete rupture of the tendon occurs where it attaches to humerus (upper arm bone).
How are pectoralis major injuries treated?
Conservative treatment is an generally only an option in patients with partial tears or low levels of activity. However in young athletic individuals, non-surgical management has been shown to result in inferior outcomes – significant deficit in strength and torque, delayed recovery, poor patient satisfaction, lower return to competitive sports, and cosmetic disfigurement. Surgery is typically required to repair pectoralis major injuries, and is the mainstay of treatment for acute tears in high level athletes and young, active patients.
What happens during a pectoralis major tendon repair?
Dr. Potts may recommend surgical treatment with a pectoralis major tendon repair, which involves placing large sutures in the torn tendon and then securing the tendon back down to the humerus (upper arm bone) with anchors. Ideally, the repair is performed in the early period following the injury in order to reduce scar tissue formation and muscle atrophy. By repairing the torn tendon, patients have an excellent chance of returning to high-level sports and activities.
Occasionally, a tendon reconstruction may be required to complete the repair, especially if the tendon injury happened a long time ago. This is typically reserved for chronic tears that cannot be adequately mobilized for primary repair and who have persistent strength deficits. Although primary repair of the tendon is the preferred method, tendon reconstruction has also been shown to have successful outcomes.