Injury can overstretch a muscle on the front or back of the chest wall. This is called a chest wall strain. In children, the injury may occur during play or sports. It may also happen during repeated coughing or when lifting a heavy object. Symptoms include sharp pain and soreness. However, no serious injury or permanent damage is present.
Muscle strain can be treated with over-the-counter or prescription medications for pain and swelling. Pain from a muscle strain usually resolves within a week.
The health care provider may prescribe medications for pain and swelling. If the child has strained the chest by coughing, a cough medication may be prescribed. Follow the doctor’s instructions for giving medications to your child. Do not give your child medications that were not prescribed.
Allow your child to rest as needed.
Cold can help reduce swelling and pain. Wrap a cold pack or bag of frozen peas in a thin towel. Have the child apply this to the affected site for up to 20 minutes, 4 to 8 times a day. Do not apply cold for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
Have your child hold a pillow to the affected area when coughing. This can help ease pain due to the injury.
Follow up with your child’s health care provider, or as advised.
Unless your child's healthcare provider advises otherwise, call the provider right away if:
Your child is younger than 2 years of age and has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) that continues for more than 1 day.
Your child is 2 years old or older and has a fever of 100.4°F (38°C) that continues for more than 3 days.
Your child is of any age and has repeated fevers above 104°F (40°C).
Also call if your child has any of the following:
Pain not relieved by medications.
Numbness or severe pain that lasts longer than 1 hour
Trouble breathing, shortness of breath, or fast breathing
Pain that continues for longer than 7 days
Trouble moving normally
Loss of strength
Redness develops or swelling gets worse and not better
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