The intercostal muscles lie between your ribs and support your respiration. If they are overloaded or carry active trigger points, they can trigger chest pain.
Trigger points are very small nodules in the muscles.
However, you can take action yourself. With a self-massage it’s possible to deactivate them.
Even if you have never heard of it, just keep on reading and learn more about it.
I’ll explain, on one hand, how to massage yourself, on the other, …
In addition to the pain described above, other problems may occur if trigger points are present
It’s not possible any more for you to lie on the side, because the intercostales are too sensitive and the pain is too strong.
If you inhale deeply, you will feel pain in your chest, which will be intensified with physical activity.
The intercostal muscles support your breathing. Trigger points can result in the fact that they can no longer “properly” contract.
This means you breathe/ventilate less air and your vital capacity decreases.
Tensions in these muscles can cause limited rotation of the thoracic spine to one or both directions.
This is due to their anatomical insertions at the transverse processes of your spine, as well as due to their function. Learn more in the chapters “Attachment Points” and “Function”.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand this. The most important for you is to know that this is the way it is and how you can loosen the muscles – and you will learn this without any problems.
When you raise your arm, your ribs are pulled apart and your intercostal muscles are stretched.
If there are trigger points in the muscles, these get extended against their “will”, which can lead to a pain stimulus that prevents you from raising your arm.
The same goes for flexion of your spine to the side (lateral flexion). During this action, the ribs are pulled apart on the opposite side of the flexion.
This results in pain due to the same reason explained in the previous chapter.
Chest pain usually is harmless, but this may not always be the case. See your doctor to rule out serious illnesses.
The following list shows an excerpt of diseases that can cause similar pain as trigger points in the intercostal muscles.