A pulled muscle, also called a muscle strain, occurs when the muscle tears or overstretches, according to Healthline. It typically results from misuse of the muscle, overuse or fatigue. Pulled muscles occur in virtually all area of the body, including the ribs, but are most common in the neck, shoulder, hamstring and lower back.
A pulled rib muscle may cause rib cage pain that is characterized by a sharp or dull pain below the chest, states Healthline. An individual may suffer immediate pain during an injury or a gradually developing pain.
A pulled muscle typically restricts movement within the injured muscle group, notes Healthline. Other symptoms include swelling, soreness, bruising, weakness or muscle spasms. A mild muscle strain causes the torn muscle to feel a bit rigid but still movable, whereas a severe strain causes extreme pain and very limited range of movement.
Treatment for rib cage pain caused by a pulled muscle involves placing a cold compress on the affected area to manage swelling, states Healthline. Over-the-counter pain relievers are recommended if the person suffers acute pain. Doctors may prescribe pain relief medications and provide a compression wrap if the OTC medication does not work. Individuals should contact a health care professional if the pain persists for more than a week, the affected area becomes numb or blood comes out of the injury.