Serratus Anterior Pain: Know The Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Serratus Anterior Pain happens in chest or arms and affects shoulder muscles. Know symptoms and treatment methods.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalUpdated at: Aug 13, 2021 11:36 IST
Serratus Anterior Pain: Know The Causes, Symptoms And Treatment Options

Having pain has become common in our lifestyle because of various reasons. Any activity which we perform affects our body and sometimes results to muscle pulls, sprain, and tissue tear etc. Muscle spans that occur in the upper eight or nine ribs can serious pain and this condition is known as serratus anterior muscle pain. These muscles help in rotating your shoulder blade up and down. Serratus anterior pain can be caused by several conditions most common among them is due sports activities’. Today, let us understand this condition, its causes and how can it be treated. 

What Causes Serratus Anterior Pain?

This is like a serious muscle sprain which takes time to cure. Dr. Sumeet Nigam, General Physician from Sahara Hospital, Lucknow says that this condition is common in athletes and people who do extensive physical work. Most common cause of this muscle pain is tension, stress over muscles, overuse, minor injuries or weightlifting. Activities that involve repetitive movement of shoulder or upper body are more inclined to have this problem. 


Serratus anterior pain is also commonly called ‘boxers muscle’ because it restricts the main movement that is used in boxing. This condition may also arise if the person is suffering from SAMPS (serratus myofascial pain syndrome). There are some medical conditions which can also be responsible for causing serratus anterior pain, they are-

Symptoms of Serratus Anterior Pain

Serratus anterior pain causes pain in chest, back or arms. This makes difficult for a person to loft his arm over their head. Even normal range of motion is also restricted and thus there is serious pain in chest and shoulder muscles. Symptoms may include-

  • Difficulty in deep breathing
  • Arm or finger pain
  • Tightness
  • Sensitivity 
  • Pain in chest or breasts
  • Shoulder blade pain


Risk Factors of Getting Serratus Anterior Pain

 In majority of cases, people do not need to seek medical help. But some factors can be signs where you need to consult a doctor immediately. This can be due to following reasons-

  • High fever with stiff neck
  • Muscle pain after a new medication
  • In case of bulls eye rash
  • Unbearable pain in back or chest that doesn’t improve with rest
  • Pain that is not allowing you to do your daily activities
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing

All of these could be signs that you need to seek medical attention and get diagnosed properly. Serratus anterior pain can radiate to other parts of the body as well. Hence it becomes difficult to evaluate the exact location of pain or injury etc. If you are having severe pain, then doctor may recommend you to get an X-Ray or MRI for muscle pain.

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Treatment Options for Serratus Anterior Pain

This muscle pain does not need medical attention most of the time. Often athletes and player go through serratus anterior pain that can be treated with help of RICE. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.

Rest- Do not stress out with your daily activities, give muscles rest between work for proper recovery. Rest is important for the body as it allows muscles to work efficiently reducing the risk of wear and tear.

Ice- Apply an ice pack or wrap ice in towel and apply it on the part that is paining. This should be done for 20 minutes at a time. Apply an ice pack twice or thrice in a day. 


Compression- It is bit difficult to apply compression on serratus anterior pain because there can be other alternative methods that can work in your favour. You can wear a tight t-shirt or wrap a bandage around the swelling or area in which you are having pain. This will compress it and reduce your pain in few days.

Elevation- This technique does not work with serratus anterior pain.

Anti-inflammatory Drugs- These types of drugs are given during serratus anterior pain to reduce swelling and ease pain. You can take aspirin or ibuprofen with doctor’s advice.

Also Read- Pain In Hands Or Feet Can Be Symptoms Of Peripheral Neuropathy. Know Causes, Complications and Prevention Tips


Serratus Anterior pain can be very uncomfortable and can sometimes lead to complications. In majority of cases this condition develops in athletes and people who are indulged in physical activities. Serratus anterior pain affects back, chest and arms, it becomes difficult to treat it because most of the methods of treating pain like compression and elevation does not work in these areas. This muscle pain is a result of tension, stress, injuries or overuse of muscles. It happens because of repetitive motion like swimming, weightlifting or tennis etc. You must be aware of the sign that can be risk factors for serratus anterior pain and consult a doctor immediately in that case.

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