Pulled "SCM" muscle - how long to recover?

I’m not looking for medical advice of course, only people’s experiences and medical types’ anecdotes are welcome too. About two and a half weeks ago I pulled my sternocleidomastoid muscle, to great despair on my part. The offending act apparently was holding the phone on my shoulder while tapping stuff into the computer at work. So, about a week of incredible searing pain at my medial clavicle and swelling and hardness of the bottom 1/3 of the SCM muscle ensued. I was treated with Aleve and Valium during the worst of it.

Now another week and a half later, there is still a rock-hard bump at the bottom of my SCM and it intermittently hurts and gets more swollen. Most of the time, the muscle appears about twice the width of the other SCM (I have a very tiny, “pencil” neck). My question is, how long does it usually take this kind of injury to get better? Especially the hard lump thing, which is painful and to me looks awful. Also, I Googled this to no avail. There are many many articles which come up when you search different permutations of “pulled SCM muscle recovery time how long”, none of which gave me the relevant info: just an estimate, or average, of how long it takes to get better from something like this. I’ve never been an athlete and the last time I had a significant injury was in 1990. I have no frame of reference for this. Any thoughts are appreciated. :slight_smile:

Damn, I was hoping to get at least some thoughts from others. Bump. I’ll call my doctor in a day or two if nothing comes of this. Thanks for viewing :slight_smile:

Umm have you seen a Doctor for this at all? You should really go see a Doctor if you haven’t. I’m trying really hard to imagine how you would pull your SCM doing what you did.

I don’t see why it should take any longer than any other sprain or strain but it would have to be diagnosed more specifically, and you’d have to know the degree of the tear to know anything.

Essentially the answer to your question is idiosyncratic. Too many variables to give you a reliable answer.

Though, if you are having such extreme symptoms based on the activity you described it might be indicative of a greater problem. Are you sure you pulled it or it froze up in a spasm?

I agree with **mswas **- this would be a very odd way to hurt your SCM. Not impossible, of course, but muscles are generally damaged by quick or repetitive movements - not by sustained contraction. And that position, at least as I try it with my phone, involves my trapezius more than my SCM. I can do it using my SCM, but my head’s all tilty, and that would make the computer dizzying. Hiking my shoulder up instead of my head down is lots easier.

Time to see a doc, just to rule out fasciitis, blood clots, cysts or other stuff. Once that’s been ruled out, this page has some self-massage tips for the scalenes and SCM (yep, it’s the same page I linked to in the How do I figure out how I’m sitting wrong? thread.) But I wouldn’t do massage on it without a doctor’s okay first - if it IS something non muscular, you don’t want to loosen, pop or move it without knowing if it’s safe to do so.

How long will it take to heal? Depends on what it is, of course. If it is truly muscular, then 2-4 weeks, on average. Maybe more, if you’re in terrible shape, or less if you’re physically fit. Sorry, that’s not terribly useful, eh?

Hey guys,
Thanks for your answers. I missed these after bumping the thread, mostly because I’ve been terribly distracted by the injury. Apparently (after seeing the doc twice and getting an ultrasound) the condition is called intramuscular hematoma and I still have no clue how I got it.* It consists of extremely painful, swollen lumps at the bottom of my SCM muscle.

(*However, I have never had the right size chair/desk at my work always inheriting cubicles from 6 foot tall guys and the ergonomics people are just getting around to measuring me and my office stuff on Monday. This is the first “office” job I’ve ever had with data entry, constant sitting etc. Previously to this my social work experience has been more on the clinical side than administrative. I suspect repetitive motion injury.)

If anyone has any wisdom as to healing times of hematomas, I’d much appreciate the info. However, upon looking online it appears that it can take between a couple of weeks and a year to heal. My doc says that she can drain them to speed the process along but this procedure has its own risks and complications. Right now I’m in wait and see mode but the burning sensation, inability to move my head, and just the weirdness of these large, painful lumps on my neck are driving me crazy.

No replies needed… just, thanks you guys.

This is wild that I have found this but i too have pulled my SCM Muscle 3 days ago!! I work shift work at Philip Morris and I got off work Friday morning thinking I had a tooth ache of some sort. So I began my weekend of pressuring washing my deck the entire day of Saturday and Sunday and as I was doing that I was beginning to think I was getting tonsillitis beings I’m a shift worker with a 3 year old and rest or sleep is not really in my vocabulary and that’s what I usually get when i get no rest and body is worn down. So today (Monday) I couldn’t take the pain anymore my right side of my throat was killing me and I couldn’t turn my head left without turning my whole body!! So I went to the dr telling him I thought my glands were swollen or something so he took a look and my throat looked good so he had be do a couple things with my head and when he pressed on my right side SCM I almost cried!!! That’s when he said I pulled it somehow, said it could be weeks (hope not) but gave me muscle relaxers. So…tonight as I’m the the way to pick up meds I realize what I did!!! Wednesday night and Thursday night I ate a bag each night of SUNFLOWER SEEDS in a 8 hours shift and when I start it’s hard for me to stop till I have no more, and thing is I only chew the kernal up with my right side of my mouth!!! (YES THE SIDE I PULLED THE MUSCLE ON) put a hand full in my mouth take out 1 at a time, crack it and chew it up with my right side of mouth over and over and over for hours 2 nights n a row…silly? Yes I know but dang, now I’m laying in the bed with my 3 year old son watching sponge bob with a tube sock filled with heated rice around my neck!!! Ahhhhhhhhhn (I don’t have any lumps on my neck or anything beings that it’s day 3 and I hope it dont get that extreme either)

You probably should have edited the paragraph format as well…that wall of text is almost impossible to read.

Oh yea…well smarts$$es like u shouldnt read it nor respond then! Good Day

What’s a smarts$$?

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