Musculoskeletal system

Pulled muscle from coughing-Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Have you ever suffered from pulled muscle from coughing? Pulled muscles generally occur in athletes or sportspersons due to overstretching and exerting their muscles a lot. Many of you might be aware that athletes do suffer from pulled muscles and many other such muscle problems.

Now you might ask me can you pull a muscle from coughing too? The answer is yes. You can develop pulled muscle from coughing too. But, it doesn’t happen with very simple and minor cough. If ever happen to suffer from a severe cough which is hacking and out of control, you can develop pulled muscle from coughing.

This is because severe hacking cough puts pressure or strain on your muscles while coughing. Due to this they become stretched and pulled. Sometimes if a cough is very severe and continuous for prolonged periods, your muscle fibers can even become torn.

pulled muscle from coughing

People with certain medical disorders like Pneumonia, bronchitis, COPD, etc can develop a hacking or a severe cough leading to pulled muscles. Certain disorders can cause a severe cough in kids too like croup or pertussis which can lead to pulled muscle from coughing in the kids.

The most commonly affected muscles due to coughing are the chest muscles and abdominal muscles which are used while coughing. Sometimes, the muscles of your back can also become pulled.

Pulled muscle from coughing symptoms:

You have seen what causes pulled muscles from coughing. Now, let us learn the different symptoms of pulled muscle from coughing so that you can recognize it when it happens to you or your close family members.

Swelling or inflammation:

Whenever a part or organ gets damaged, it gets swollen. Here in pulled muscle from coughing, the muscles are affected, so these muscles can swell up or get inflamed. You can notice the swelling or inflammation from the surface of the skin.

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Severe pain with a cough:

As the muscle is pulled, whenever you utilize it for any activity including coughing, you get severe pain at the site of the pulled muscle.

Severe pain when turning:

You need to use your chest and abdominal muscles while turning to sides. You can get severe pain when turning to sides.

Severe pain when bending:

Your abdominal muscles need to be used when bending down. Also, your back muscles are used for this purpose. As both of these muscle groups can be affected by pulled muscle from coughing, you will feel pain when bending down.


We have learned that pulled muscle from coughing can cause pain while coughing and turning. But, it is also very tender to touch. If your doctor or yourself try to touch or palpate the muscle affected, you will get a sudden sense of pain, which is called tenderness.

Breathing difficulty:

We all know that we need appropriate functioning of the chest and abdominal muscles for breathing. As the muscles of these regions are pulled due to coughing, we can experience difficulty in breathing too.

Pulled muscle from coughing treatment:

Pulled muscles can be easily treated at home by following some simple principles and tricks. You need not worry about it much. You can easily cure yourself of this problem in 3 to 4 days time. Just follow the below tricks and see your pulled muscle from coughing disappear.

Control coughing:

As coughing is the culprit behind these pulled muscles, try to control coughing first. You can take over the counter cough syrups or suck on some cough lozenges to control your coughing. You can also take help of certain natural remedies to control your coughing like sucking a piece of ginger.

You can try to prepare a herbal tea with crushed ginger, crushed peppercorns, and basil or Tulasi leaves. It is really very effective in controlling cough. But, if you are having any other serious respiratory symptoms apart from a cough or if you are having a fever along with a cough or if you are a smoker from a long time, you might need to consult your doctor to treat your condition which is causing cough.

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Restrict movements:

As movements like turning to the sides and bending are aggravating cough, you need to restrict movement of your body in various directions.

Take rest:

You can get rid of pulled muscle from coughing by taking proper rest. Just relax in your home without worrying much as pulled muscles is really not a very big problem.

Ice packs or cold compresses:

Cold compresses are really very effective in reducing the swelling and pain of various muscle injuries, sprains, and bruises. So, you surely need to try them out.

Cold compresses need to be applied within the 1st 48 hours after developing pulled muscle from coughing. It is best to start using ice packs as soon as you notice pulled muscles. Just wrap a handful of ice cubes in a plastic bag. Then start applying the ice pack over the pulled muscle for 20 minutes at a time.

If your skin is oversensitive, you can place a thin cloth between your skin and the plastic bag containing the ice cubes. You need to apply cold compress every 1 to 2 hours for 1 or 2 days for maximum effect.

But be sure not to apply hot packs or compresses during the 1st 2 days after developing pulled muscle from coughing. This is because hot compress when applied during initial phases of injury or bruises can aggravate the swelling and pain.

Use a compression wrap:

You can use a compression wrap around your pulled muscle. This can help to restrict the movements of the pulled muscle. It can also help in reducing the swelling to some extent. But, you need to apply compression wrap around the muscle little loosely. Don’t tie the wrap very tightly as it can affect your breathing and cause pain.

Elevate your body with pillows:

Placing pillows and elevating the injured body part is suggested for all kinds of muscle injuries. It is also helpful for pulled muscle from coughing. You need to place pillows below your chest or below your abdomen to elevate them. This helps in reducing pain and swelling to some extent.

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Sleep or lie on the opposite side:

If you are suffering from pulled muscles on one side, lying down or sleeping on the opposite side is definitely helpful. For example, if your chest or abdominal muscles of the left side are pulled, try sleeping on the right side.

Warm compress:

Using warm compress during the 1st 48 hours after developing pulled muscle is not recommended. But, you can surely use warm compress after 2 days after developing the problem. It alleviates the pain and makes you feel comfortable. It can also relieve the strains in the muscles.


You can take over the counter analgesics like paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat pulled muscle from coughing. They help in reducing the swelling or inflammation. They also help in reducing the pain that you are suffering from.

Muscle relaxant gel:

You can apply muscle relaxant gels that are available in the market. The majority of them contain analgesic, and muscle relaxant combinations. For example, you can use a gel containing Diclofenac and Chlorzoxazone. Diclofenac is the analgesic or pain killer, while chlorzoxazone is the muscle relaxant.

When to see a doctor:

The majority of pulled muscles heal within 3 to 4 days if you follow all the mentioned steps above properly without neglecting. But if you are not able to get rid of pulled muscles even after a week, surely visit your doctor.

If you have any other symptoms apart from a cough like fever, weight loss, sputum or phlegm in your cough, etc, make sure to see your doctor to rule out diseases that are causing your cough. This is because we need to treat the root cause of a cough first. Otherwise, your condition might get worse.

If you think that you are not finding relief with the above tricks or suggestions, you can visit your doctor and he might prescribe you some muscle relaxant tablets. He might even give you analgesic injections if your pain is very severe.

I hope you have understood what causes pulled muscles from coughing, what are the symptoms and how to treat it. Hope you benefit from this information.

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