Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Shoulder FAQ


I'm an amateur body builder but I do compete in some state and regional contests. Six months ago I bench pressed too much weight and ruptured my left pec. I had surgery to repair it but it still doesn't look normal. Will I get my full muscle bulk back for competition?


Pectoralis (pec) muscle rupture used to be a rare injury. Today it's becoming more common with increased competitive sports events. Weight-lifting among middle-aged men is also bringing an increase in this injury. Bench pressing seems to put the greatest stress on the muscle when the arm is abducted and extended away from the body.

Studies show that surgery has the best results when the tendon is ruptured completely. Muscle belly tears or partial tendon tears may recover with more conservative care. Cosmetic results are usually good no matter what kind of treatment is applied.

There are however, occasional reports of poor cosmetic results with asymmetry or uneven muscle definition. If surgery is delayed for any reason, scar tissue may fill in the hole. The muscle retracts and atrophies causing weakness and an altered chest structure from one side to the other.

Given your interest in body building, it might be a good idea to get a follow-up visit with your surgeon. It's possible a revision surgery for cosmetic reasons could help. Or perhaps a different rehab program designed for your particular goals would give you the results you're looking for.

CPT Benjamin K. Potter, MD, et al. Pectoralis Major Ruptures. In The American Journal of Orthopedics. April 2006. Vol. 35. No. 4. Pp. 189-195.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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