When you cough, you exert a vigorous strain on the body muscles, as it is a forceful and instinctive activity. If the cough is persistent, hacking and uncontrolled, you may experience a pulled muscle from coughing. This can occur in any part of the body where there is a strain. However, muscle strain from coughing is mainly seen on the chest muscles and abdominal muscles. You can also get a pulled muscle in back from coughing. Constant and severe cough can cause the muscles to strain very badly and sometimes the muscle fibers even develop minor tears.

Symptoms of Pulled Muscle from Coughing

  • Every time you cough, there is a pain at the site where you have pulled muscle from coughing.

  • This pain can be mild or severe and depends on the level of muscle damage.

  • When the affected muscles are flexed the pain is aggravated.

  • The site of injury can get swollen, stiff and is tender to touch.

  • If the pulled muscle from coughing is in the chest or abdominal area, there will be difficulty in breathing, especially when the muscles relax.

  • Pain worsens when bending down or twisting the body.

When to See a Doctor

The usual time required in healing of a pulled muscle from coughing is 3 to 4 days. If you have a severe cough or the symptoms of pulled muscle persist or worsen after 1 or 2 weeks, you should see a doctor for proper treatment. Sometimes it is possible that there is a broken rib, when the pain in the muscle is close to the chest. This condition is a serious issue and must be checked by a doctor immediately.

Treatment for Pulled Muscle from Coughing

Here we will look at the some home remedies which can be tried to get relief from the pain caused due to a pulled muscle from coughing:

Protect Your Pulled Muscle

When you have to protect the pulled muscle, you need to ensure that you do not allow much movement in that area of the body. Limit you movements and avoid lifting anything heavy. Get enough rest so that the muscle has time to heal. You will also need to find a cure for the coughing or control your coughing. When you stop coughing, the affected area will receive rest and help in healing.


Apply an Ice Pack

Ice helps in reducing the inflammation and swelling in the affected area. Ice pack can be applied to the pulled muscle from coughing for about 15 minutes. This should be repeated every 2 hours. The ice pack should not be applied directly on the skin, ensure that at least a towel or cloth is present between the ice pack and the skin.


Apply a Compression Wrap or Bandage

A compression wrap or bandage helps to prevent swelling in the affected area. A bandage can be wrapped around the chest, when the coughing is under control. The bandage should be wrapped only if there is no difficulty while breathing and it does not cause any discomfort.


Elevate Your Pulled Muscle

The pulled muscle should be in an elevated position and above the heart. However, this is not possible when the pulled muscle is an abdominal muscle. But you can use pillows to prop up the body to keep yourself elevated. Lying down on the side opposite to the pulled muscle also helps.


Avoid HARM

HARM stands for Heat, Alcohol, Running (exercise) and Massage. All these 4 things should be avoided after you have pulled the muscle, so that the injury is not further aggravated. You should refrain from taking hot water bath or using a heating pad. Remember not to drink alcohol or massage the muscle. Running or any other exercise will cause a lot of movement in the muscle, hence it should be avoided. Once the inflammation subsides after 2 to 3 days, heat can be applied to the affected muscle, slowly moving the area, while gently massaging it.


Take Some Medicines

If the cough is persistent, you will have difficulty in restricting the movement of the muscles. Hence, along with remedy for the pulled muscle, remedy should be tried for controlling the cough as well.

  • CoughYou can choose to have a cough suppressant after consulting your doctor. Your doctor may also prescribe or suggest you to take cough expectorant or suppressant. You can also try OTC cough lozenge as it helps reduce the irritation or tingling feeling in the throat which makes you cough.

  • Pulled Muscle: Sometimes a painkiller will be required to treat the pulled muscle completely. NSAIDs like ibuprofen can be taken when the pain of the pulled muscle from coughing, becomes unbearable. However, it is advisable to take such medications after consulting the doctor.


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  • JoseNov.21 21:06
    I pulled a muscle as well but doctor told me to take hot baths or if possible go in a jacuzzi but this article suggests the opposite
  • David Pecora JrNov.15 07:14
    I had a round of sickness which kept me in and out of the Hospital for 3-4 weeks. Started with Bronchitis, Bronchial Spasms, Pleurisy to Sinusitis and I ruptured my pectoral muscle and one in my back. I simply can not sleep without having strong painful popping feelings in my back or chest. Laying down has become so difficult I'm afraid to sleep. Reading up on this makes me believe that the doctor at Allegheny Valley Hospital (ER) made a poor decision in sending me home. I'm practically immobilized by this pain. Just one cough or even a tickle of one coming is enough to scare me. After reading this topic makes me want to mention the MRI to my PCP as I see him at 8:30 AM today. I've been putting ice on the affected area for an hour straight or until it's no longer cold. Don't know if I'm doing this right but when I cough it makes me want to cry, if I do it makes the spasms worse. Thank you so much for posting this topic because it gives me a general idea of what to prepare myself for. The X-ray came back as no broken bones which is a positive but this pain is unbearable so much so that the only way to sleep is sitting up with a pillow behind my back and one to rest my arm upon. The waking up is the real nightmare. Again thank you for the post.
  • Sharron Hamrick'Oct.21 21:46
    I have coughed so hard I have broken ribs, pulled muscles in my back, legs and most recently in my neck. Always use ice, if you are sick with a infection the the heat will help spread the infection,( ever notice that it's cold in hospitals) , ice will help relax and keep the muscles in a stable position. If you are still coughing, try to hold the area affected during a coughing spell. Also cold water will help relax your throats and air passages.
  • Harold WilkinsonSep.20 02:35
    Get a new Doctor and Chiropractor. The advice here is correct. Use RICER. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Recovery. What your Doctor advised is HARM and should be avoided. Heat, Alcohol, Running (exercise) and Massage.
  • AliceApr.8 23:34
    #3 NO, compression, especially of ribs can lead to pneumonia.
  • Linda Mar.17 18:52
    How do you know if you have a pulled muscle? I have spoken with the Dr. and the Chiropractor. Both suggested doing the exact opposite of this post. Hot baths, heating pad, massage. When I get a massage it sends my back muscles into spasms. I had pneumonia and coughed really hard for nearly 2 weeks.
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