The treatment options include anti-inflammatory medications and over-the-counter pain medication that can help to reduce inflammation. Rest is also very important, and it is necessary to stop sports activities to limit the movement of the torso. Continuous exertion can injure the strained muscles further and may lead to a fracture. However, bed rest for more than the stipulated days without any physical activities may cause muscle tightness and decrease flexibility, which may delay the healing process. Simple gentle stretching exercises can help to strengthen the muscles. Stretching exercises such as side-bends and side bends with rotation can ease the condition.
Applying an ice pack for twenty minutes three to four times a day helps. It can alleviate pain and reduce swelling. Ensure that you wrap the ice pack with a towel to avoid frostbite injury. Wearing a rib belt that limits chest expansions helps to prevent pain and breathing difficulties.
Intercostal muscle strains may be mild, moderate or severe. Damage to the muscle fibers causes a mild sprain and healing occurs within two or three weeks. Extensive damage to the muscle fibers causes moderate strain and healing occurs within six weeks. An intercostal muscle tear or a complete rupture of the muscle causes a severe injury and takes a considerable time for healing. Generally though, one can recover from an intercostal sprain fully after six weeks. It is best to consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment should the pain persist or worsen.