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Pulled rib muscles can occur from overextending yourself during a workout, from excessive coughing during an illness or from reasons that you may never be able to determine. Chest pain that comes from pulled rib muscles will be sore and tender when you touch the affected area. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), in most cases, you can treat muscle pain in the ribcage in your own home (see Resources).
Apply ice to your pulled rib muscles to reduce the level of inflammation you're experiencing from a fresh injury. Ice the area for 20 minutes at a time up to three times a day. The ice may also temporarily numb the pain.
Get some pain relief from over-the-counter medications. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen ease the pain and may also reduce inflammation. These medications may upset your stomach--if they do, ask your doctor for an appropriate substitute.
Rest as much as you can to help your rib muscles heal. Limit heavy lifting and other vigorous physical activities that may aggravate your injuries.
Treat pulled rib muscles with heat after the first couple of days. A heating pad or warm, moist compress can take the edge off the soreness and stiffness you feel. Make sure to use the low setting on a heating pad to avoid burning yourself.
If your rib area does not feel better within a couple of days, make an appointment to see your doctor. He may run some tests to look for heart damage and rule out other reasons for your pain.