Pectoral/Lat Atrophy

Hi all,

I posted a while back about my search for finding out what was causing my sternal pec atrophy as well as lat atrophy. I’ve visited numerous Physicians and just have never been able to get to the exact problem…most aren’t really even able understand/describe what is occurring.

It has gotten so bad over the last 2 years that my sternal head of the pec is non existent and my lat is so thin and completely non existent in the middle and into lower back/hip. The only good news with this is that I can essentially trace the atrophy. Could anyone have any insight/options of what could be wrong in that region that would cause this unique atrophy? Like i said its actually traceable now. My right arm is basically “hanging” on for lack of a better word. The atrophy looks like it in essnetially starting in the upper back and tracing all the back down into middle back/lat into my glute ane hip…along with the complete atrophy of my sternal head (clear line across the pec where my clavicular head is there)

Emgs have showed practically nothing…as neurological causes would traditionally be thought of in this scenario. No pectoral tear etc.

I don’t continue to post/search for a diagnosis…but in the chance that someone had something like this has ever been given direction on the issue. I work in this field and it is super frustrating to continue to lose my right side. I even now have mild scoliosis/imbalances from this.

Thanks for taking the time to read/give input. It truly means a lot


Can you flex/contract or control your pec and lat at all?

Can you control your shoulder blades, like retract (squeeze them together behind you) and protract(slide them forward around your ribs) them?

How is your posture? You mentioned your arm “hanging,” is your right shoulder slumped forward or elevated or rotated in some strange way?


Hopefully the above picture loads to kind of show a “flexed” position of the chest. The pec literally cuts off across the sternal head.

As far as the lat I guess I can “contract” it, but it’s completely hollow. It’s as if the “disconnection” starts high off to the side of the right scapula and goes all the way down the middle of the back into the low back and glute/hip.

It looks like that right shoulder is Internally Rotated and kinda slumped Lower than your left.

I imagine that there is something tight, pulling your shoulder into that unnatural position. And now when your brain says “push” your body executes by pushing with your front delt, not your pec. This is “hallowing out” your chest because you’re not using your pec.

I can’t see your back, but it’s obvious that you don’t have much meat where your “upper lat” should be. I imagine your messed up shoulder position is lining things up so you’re using a lot of teres and trap to Pull instead of your lat.

I would get started with withe two drills. As you breathe In think about taking air into your chest and upper back and Inflating the area underneath your pec and lat. Use your breathing to Expand your ribs and give your pec and lat a solid base.

On the exhale think about relaxing your front delt and allowing your shoulder to “fall.” Like you want the back of your shoulder to get closer to the floor. And your shoulder blade to slide around your ribs towards your back.

I expect you’ll have tightness in the front of your shoulder and across your clavicle. You’ll have to breath through this tighness, figure out how to relax it, and allow your pec to take that weight/pressure.

I expect tightness behind your shoulder, in your teres moving “across” towards your mid back. You’ll have to figure out how to breath into this tight area, and allow it to relax so your shoulder can “fall” into proper position for your lat to take up the tension.


Thanks for the detailed response. I’m just confused a bit because in the pec there isn’t even muscle fiber “firing” like i cant even see that when i flex. Its as if its completely dead.

Could this truly be fro the positioning of the shoulder making me basically have a completely disconnected pec and lat all the way into my hip?

Would you mind if I was to send you some additional info and pictures? I’ve truly only found 2 cases that are pretty damn close to what I have going on in all of my research.

Wouldn’t mind paying for some advice as well for the time spent on it.

Yeah man. Imagine you have a super tight Pec Minor. It pulls on your shoulder blade, pulling “up” and “forward” and now your shoulder is slumped. This pulls your shoulder blade away from your ribs and causes your lat the relax, stretch out and get chronically weak and inhibited.

Then you get stuck in this bad alignment and develop a “compensatory pattern” where you’re not even using your lat anymore. And after months and years of disuse it withers away…

Do a quick search on “Tight Pec Minor” or “Winged Scapula” and see if anything jumps out at you.

If you want to post a pic or two I’ll take a look. But I’m not a doctor or anything.

If you want to send me some money check out my Fans Only page.

In the mean time, take your left hand and put it on your right pec. Now Keep Trying to Flex Your Pec! Until you can feel it moving with your left hand. Do whatever you have to do to make it contract. try externally rotating your shoulder then flexing your chest. Take a deep breath and stand at attention then try to flex. Protract or retract your shoulder. Try a flying motion with arm in front, or a most muscular pulling your arm across and down…

Whatever, just keep trying until you feel it with your hand.

Then do the same thing with your lat.

Continuing the discussion from Pectoral/Lat Atrophy:

You almost certainly have a brachial plexus injury, impingement, or inflammatory process going on there, But it’s definitely in the brachial plexus of nerves.
The origin could be anywhere from the nerve root in your cervical spine down through the brachial plexus of nerves that runs through and innervates your shoulder lats pecs biceps triceps etc.
You will need a neurologist, and the test they give I believe it’s called a myelogram. With that test, they can tell exactly where along which particular nerve the problem originates.
It’s treatable. I say this from experience.
I would see a neurologist quickly


Thanks for the detailed reply. I haven’t followed up on this in a few weeks because I’ve been super discouraged lately about ever being able to fix this.

Thanks for the response. I’ve been to many physicians/nueros and they haven’t been able to really get anywhere. I’ve had completely normal emgs and my latest one showed very mild early recruitment in the pectroal region (super nondescript and the amount of atrophy I have it should show way more)

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If you’re still paying attention, maybe look into info from Occupation Therapists or Physical Therapists who work with people recovering from strokes.

They help people restore complex function/movement after their body “forgets” how. And they have Great regressions of movements.

Check out this video where they use a ball, a big stability ball or a towel on the table top to support the arm. Then they do “classic” motions like the pullover for lats, flies and reverse flies for pec/rear delt. The support (theorically) allows your body to re-learn to move naturally by challenging you without being so hard you resort to shitty compensation patterns.

Hi, I have a similar Left Pectoral issue in contour, feel, contractions, atrophy in clavicle and abdominal head.

I have a EMG test in two months. My strength on the left side still is there. The muscle is thinner on left side.

When I contract both chests left side is missing clear lines and feels mushy. It’s beyond frustrating.

Do you have any updates?


No updates, but maybe a little help.

The atrophy of a muscle can be very frustrating if you don’t know where it is coming from. In your case, it can come from one or a few places. The nerves for the Pecs originate at C5-7, so they can get entrapped and injured in five areas (in order):

  1. At the neck, as the nerve exits the foremen (the hole the nerve exits from the spine)
  2. Scalene Muscles
  3. Clavicle and Subclavius Muscle
  4. The space where the Pec Minor makes a tunnel under the Coracoid Process
  5. Just as it turns, it goes to the Pec Minor and Pec Major. (see pic)

Stretching or tensioning the nerve can either help improve the function, such as a better contraction, or allow you to find odd areas of increased tension which may prove helpful in seeing where it’s potentially entrapped.

Follow these simple steps noting how the tension feels and compare it to the opposite side:

  1. Drop the involved shoulder back and down like you are trying to put your elbow into your back pocket. This stretches the Pec Minor halfway and pulls the nerve laterally.
  2. Tilt your neck away from the shoulder. (ear to opposite shoulder)
  3. Turn your face towards the opposite shoulder. (don’t lose the tilt!)
  4. Tilt your face (skull) upwards. Your neck stays where it is.
  5. Slide your bottom jaw forward like sticking your teeth out in a massive underbite.

I made a brief video to demo this tension move:

Note how that feels, compare it to the other shoulder, and reverse the directions.

Report back here with your findings. You can even video yourself and link it in your response. Then I can help give you the next steps.

– Doc



Thanks for taking time out of your say. I feel the pull on the left side of my neck. Historical context: I’ve had some form of these issues on the left chest for two decades, but the sensations or lack of have recently increased.

Twenty years ago, I had costrochintridis for years on the same side.

Thanks for taking time out of your say. I feel the pull on the left side of my neck. Historical context: I’ve had some form of these issues on the left chest for two decades, but the sensations or lack of have recently increased.

Twenty years ago, I had costrochintridis for years on the same side.

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Chances are that both your upper back and neck have issues then. When the upper spine stops moving, the ribs in the back do too. Then the rib heads in the front become hypermobile and will develop costochondritis.

The stiff upper back can also be linked to the problem you likely have in your neck.

Shoot me a Zip Code and lets find you an Active Release Techniques (ART) provider who can possibly get to the heart of these issues for you.

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Hi- unfortunately no real answers or improvement. I only really have the clavicular part of my pec left on the right side. Most of my right lat in the middle back down into the hip is gone as well. It is so bizzare. It literally is a clean “disconnect.”

I’ve had multiple emgs that don’t really show much. On my last one… I had some mild early recruitment in the clavicular head (which doesn’t line up with the major atrophy of the pectoral).

None of the physicians/specialists I’ve been to really have any idea what is going on. I’ve only ever found 2 cases that fit my situation in the years of research I’ve done on this now.

@cfedoriska Sorry to hear that man.
My doctor did mention a possible biopsy on the muscle in EMG doesn’t give clues.

Has that been explored with you?


I’m in San Francisco. My T-Spine mobility is decent and strength has not decreased with bilateral horizontal pushing.

Bench press my right side is slightly stronger.

It feels like the signal is not functioning on the left pec.

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Muscle biopsy was on the table, but it’s just such a unique atrophy of pec/back that you can essentially trace it. I don’t think the muscle biopsy will really help with the issue. It seems the atrophy has stayed specifically in those areas. It is frustrating though because it creates imbalances all over.

I’ve had numerous emgs and mris at this point and just don’t think there is much left to do. Certainly nothing will “fix” the issue at this point.

How long have you been experiencing the atrophy? If you have any specific questions feel free to reach out.


The left pec for 15 years has been less developed then the right.

At rest upper (L) chest looks slightly deflated.
When I flex both pecs (L) pec lower abdominal portion looks deflated. I do isolated work on the left side but the pec won’t form.

The right side contracts very easily. The left doesn’t.

Drives me crazy! It feels like the signal is not functioning properly on the left side.

I have a EMG scheduled in two months.