Pectoralis Major Ruptures in the National Football League: Incidence, RTP, and Performance Analysis

Patrick M. Wise, Anna M. Ptasinski, Robert A. Gallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: While pectoralis major (PM) tears are rare injuries in National Football League (NFL) athletes (previous study reported only 10 PM ruptures between 2000 and 2010), the incidence of these injuries has increased over the past decade. The impact these injuries have on a player’s performance after return has not been measured. Purpose/Hypothesis: To identify player characteristics that may predispose to PM tears and to determine the impact of this injury on return to play and performance. We hypothesized that there would be no difference in performance between the year before and after their injury. Study Design: Descriptive epidemiology study. Methods: NFL players who experienced PM tears between the years 2010 and 2018 were identified using publicly available reports. Several individual player characteristics were identified and recorded, and the return-to-play rates after injury were determined for each position. The pre- and postinjury Pro Football Focus grades of players who met inclusion criteria were compared. A paired t test analysis of the change in player performance was used for analysis. Results: In this study, 63 ruptures were identified between 2010 and 2018. Linebackers had the highest incidence of PM tear compared with any other position. Of all injuries, 79.3% were sustained by defensive players. The majority of PM tears occurred during games. Only 6.9% of players who sustained the injury were suspended for performance-enhancing drug use during their professional career. A total of 85.7% of players returned to play in the NFL after injury. Among those who returned to play there were no significant changes in player performance from pre- to post-injury. Conclusion: NFL players demonstrated 85.7% return-to-play rates and no significant drop-off in performance after PM ruptures. During the time period studied, there was an increase in incidence of PM ruptures compared with the previous decade. Further investigation is needed to determine potential causes for the increased incidence of PM ruptures in NFL players.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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