T Nation

Pectoralis Major Repair (Pec Tear Surgery)

I tore my right pec during an ice hockey fight (I play for my university) on 10/9/15. I went to the ortho and an MRI confirmed the tendon had completely torn off my humerus. I had the surgery on 10/21/15. Doc told me when he opened me up that my clavicular head hadn’t torn at all, only my sternal head came off. I was supposed to wear my sling for 6 weeks. I never wore it to sleep, just braced myself with pillows. I ditched the sling completely around 6 weeks. Started Physical therapy at 8 weeks out. I’m currently 14 weeks out and can do full back workouts and high-bar squats with little/no pain. Additionally, I started do unilateral DB Presses with a 10 lb DB using my right arm. I started this thread to answer any questions anyone might have about the pec tear surgery process. When it happens, you never feel like you’ll get better. But, I get better every month and am just embracing the process. I’ve included some information on my diet and supplement choices for the first couple months below.


  • Creatine HCL
  • HMB
  • Glutamine
  • Arginine
  • Vitamin A
  • Copper
  • Cissus
  • Fish Oil


  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Approx. 3000 cal/day
  • Bison, Eggs, Chicken, Fruit, Potatoes

If anyone else has undergone pec tear, I’m curious, was there a hard lump at your insertion site for awhile after the surgery?

Man I just exploded my pec off my humerus yesterday doing decline bench press, was sooo fucking painful, felt it snap then dropped the weight on my chest and some dude next to me saved me. Went to the ER and got Xrays n Ultrasounds, the doc was like it didnt tear at the bone so we cant fix it, its a partial tear and you can only do rehab and will be deformed and not have full strength for the rest of your life. Is that right? He was a young doc and didnt seem very sure of himself?

Fuck it hurts, on Oxy’s and in the sling, could still fap which is a bonus :slight_smile:

I read online getting surgery will make you look normal and have nearly full strength again, I dont understand how they cant repair a partial tear if they can repair a full tear?

sorry to hear about your injury. However, the what that Doctor said is completely false. If the tendon tears off the bone they can repair it, if the muscle tears off the tendon (the tendon stays attached to the bone) then you’re out of luck. However, it is a time sensitive injury, meaning the sooner you get into surgery, the better chance of success you’ll have. My surgery was 2 weeks after my injury. If you only had a partial tear, there would be no deformity, because your tendon and muscle would still be attached at the humeral insertion. If you’re in Southern California, I can recommend a couple of good surgeons. Otherwise, I would google “Pectoralis Major Repair (insert state or city)” and that should point you in the right direction. It’s not a super common injury and only a few surgeons in every state have dealt with it. Keep me posted man and if you have any other questions lmk.

Thanks man, Im going to the doctor today to get a referral to a specialist and ask to be operated on, I live in Australia. I wont be able to work now as I work doing construction work as a casual and cant even move my arm, ill probably be homeless in a few weeks. At least the surgery is free in my country, then after im healed I can go on welfare and look for a new job and just live in my car and try to rebuild my life.

If I don’t get surgery and its torn like it is how long until I could work do you think? would it ever get back to full strength? or what kind of level would it get to? would I always have pain for the rest of my life if I move my arm?

Thanks for the info man

There’s no way you’d be able to do construction work without the surgery man. People usually regain their strength if they get the surgery, if not, you’ll get maybe 30% of your strength back. I felt pretty hopeless at the beginning of this process, but I got the surgery and I’m 5 months out and will be fully recovered in another couple months.

Strength does not come back with a muscle belly tear repair unlike the tendon repair. As far as how much strength you’ll lose you’d be surprised how small it can be relatively. I lost about 20%. Look up PT Welsh on FB, the dude lost about half his right pec and just posted a video of himself repping 330lbs for five reps on the bench.

For partial tears, exercise rehabilitation is an awesome option. I would recommend considering not getting the surgery, especially if the doc didn’t recommend it.

Now, getting a second opinion is always a good idea during surgical matters. I work with athletes recovering from partial tears all the time. Surgery is not a ‘fix all’ scenario. Even in the case of Han-Brolo, he did a great deal of exercise rehabilitation. If you perform that, without the surgery, chances are good that you’ll be able to heal.

Thanks man, Is there anything online you could point me to for the rehab and restrengthening? As I can not afford a physio. Ive had a good look but can’t find much. Surgery wasn’t a option for my partial tear. Found a 6 week emergency welfare payment for work injuries such a life saver, just staying with some friends while I heal up.

Yes I created an ‘exercise away your shoulder pain’ eCourse for such circumstances. It’s $39.

Go to my website. Click on ‘Fitness Education’. On the right hand side of the page you will see a link to the eCourse. It’s very highly rated and people have been getting great results. Check it out and let me know if you have any trouble getting there.

Not sure what “dr” hoar’s training is, but he does not seem to be a medical doctor, so I just wanted to highlight that for other readers who may have gotten confused by his usernsme.

My $.02 is that you should definitely see a specialist ASAP if you think you have a tear that has a small chance of requiring surgery. If you have good health insurance and it is covered then get an MRI if you haven’t already. Also, a “partial tear” might still require surgery. I had a “partial tear” (per radiologist’s report) which was really a full tear of the sternal head with the clavicular head intact. I tore it doing bench press. Was doing five sets of five, and was on my last set and tore it when trying to raise the bar on the first rep of that set. I had significant pain, weakness, and limited ROM for a month, with bruising and visible asymmetry, but symptoms subsided (not the asymmetry). ROM and strength progress continued for another two months. I went to see an orthopedist four months after the injury when my strength stopped progressing (10 lbs flies were still difficult/painful). Multiple surgeons recommended surgery and said that waiting for months after the injury just makes surgery/recovery/prognosis worse.

I am now 4-days post op, and am told the recovery is a month immobilized, another month for range of motion, then another two to three for strength.

Good luck!

Ruptured my pec tendon on May 4th, surgery on the 17th. I was doing mobility and stretching a week later and short running/cardio 2 weeks later. Today I am 5 weeks out from surgery and have a lot of ROM back (can get overhead) and out of the sling. I am back to doing modified workouts but no real lifting with right arm.

I am constantly paranoid about the repair coming undone (for lack of a better term). There’s no real pain but it does get tight when I run. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I read a comment from someone saying not to do anything at all because he did and his repair completely failed and he didn’t realize it until his doctor made him get an MRI. It feels like I am much farther along in the healing process then I should be but I really want to start running competitively again. I realize that pec ruptures in people that enjoy running are not very common but I cross train quite a bit and actually ruptured mine doing a muscle up. Have any of you tried to run and if so, how long after surgery?

I would be concerned that you damaged ur repair too based on your post-surg activities and wish u luck and hope all is ok

I know this thread is old but I just partially tore my pec a month ago. This is due to and old injury from doing stupidly heavy incline flys when I was 23. Now 36 and it freaks me out as I wonder if I will be able to get my strength and size back. Funny thing is, I ripped it doing BJJ. I have a nice dimple now when I squeeze my chest where the pec inserts into the armpit. I will be getting an mri the 22nd of this month. Here in italy things run slow. I’m nervous as I know that there are plenty of bodybuilders and powerlifters who half ripped pecs and continue with their weightlifting careers but I am scared that it will rip again and even more the next time. Then I will be stuck with half a pec. I believe this is a type 2 tear as it wasnt painful at all and no bruising what so ever. But I did lose my ROM. This sucks ass and its very depressing. I’m hoping that they will be able to repair it as I have read stories that people have had it repaired even though its a type 2 tear.

I’m a few days post-op for pec major tendon surgery. I’d love to hear a follow up from you and any advice you could give.

I know this an old post but I thought my experience would help some others. I am a bit older (45) and generally do dumbbell type workouts. Last June started barbell bench pressing in a group of guys and I jumped up in weight too fast. Felt a gnarly tear. Very little bruising, just a small one on biceps. 2 mos. later went to an Ortho (hip and ankle) who gave me kind of conflicting info but said I’d have a dent, but it was partial. It turns out he is a dipS#$%, So, I rehabbed for 5 mos. like he suggested. It got stronger but still about 20% off in the affected arm and pushups felt awkward. The middle of the muscle got progressively worse looking - I mean it really bunched up when I flexed. Something was wrong. I couldn’t get a referral to touch it. Pretty depressing.

On my own I found 3 different doctors that had an expertise with pecs. The top guy was in another state, he told me MRIs are misleading and we wanted pics. Based on pics (and the the bunching), the next day his office called to say it completely ruptured and he could fix it. I told him my MRI just indicated a very small tear towards the sternum. He said - yes, you may have that small muscle tear but your muscle won’t bunch up unless you tore the tendon, he figured I tore the entire sternal portion but the clavicular portion may be mainly intact. Whether it is at the junction or the tendon off the bone, he said he can fix it. He has done about 200 repairs.

He said if I’d seen him in 2-4 mos. he could guarantee perfection. 4-6 mos. near perfection. After that (I am now at 8 mos.), he could get all my strength back but cosmetically I (no one else) would probably notice a permanent subtle difference due to the longterm muscle atrophy.

I guess the point of this is to say, a lot of these doctors phone it in. Trust your gut, if it doesn’t feel right get a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Also, it is never too late to fix it, but the sooner you do the less likely you’ll need an allograft tendon and the better chance you have at perfect cosmetics. I am getting the surgery in 2 weeks by the way. I will re-post in 5 or 6 mos. when the results start to take shape.