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Symptoms of a Fractured Sternum

Your sternum (also called your breastbone) is a broad, flat bone that sits at the center of your chest and connects to your ribs and collarbone. Like any bone in your body, your sternum can fracture if it’s subjected to enough force. Here’s what you need to know about sternum fractures and their symptoms.

What Causes Sternum Fractures?

Most times, an individual’s sternum will break as the result of blunt-force trauma to the front of the chest. Car accidents are the most common cause of sternum fractures, with research showing that about 60% to 90% of sternal fractures happen within motor vehicle crashes. 

Instances of immediate deceleration, in particular, are a common cause of sternum fractures. For example, if you’re a passenger in a speeding car that crashes into a building, the sudden deceleration will push your sternum into your seat belt, sometimes with enough force to break the bone.

However, there are a few other common causes of sternum fractures besides vehicle-related injuries, such as:

  • Sports injuries (usually from contact sports like football)
  • Physical assault
  • Being the recipient of CPR
  • Falls from significant heights
  • Stress fractures (usually from weightlifting, golf, or other activities that stress your upper body)

Sometimes, despite all of these possible causes, a sternum fracture can purely be an accident. 

Still, if your sternum is fractured because of someone else’s actions, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover compensation. For example, if you fall and break your sternum because of unsafe property conditions, a lawyer may be able to help you hold the property owner accountable for your medical bills.

What Are the Symptoms of a Broken Sternum?

The only way to know for sure whether you have a fractured sternum is to see a doctor. They will likely perform an X-ray, a CT scan, or another diagnostic test to confirm your injuries.

Nevertheless, there are some signs of sternum injuries to be aware of on your own. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, there’s a possibility that you’ve broken your sternum:

  • Sudden, severe pain in your chest immediately after a blow or other trauma to the area
  • Pain that increases when you breathe, laugh, cough, or sneeze
  • Trouble breathing
  • Bruising that appears gradually after an accident or other injury
  • Tenderness or general achiness on or over your sternum
  • Bones protruding through your chest (in very severe cases)

Although many sternum injuries heal on their own, you shouldn’t try to diagnose or treat one yourself. Always seek the care and advice of a medical professional.

Can a Sternum Fracture Kill You?

Sternum fractures can be painful and disruptive, but fortunately, they are almost never deadly, having an estimated mortality rate of just 0.7%. 

Usually, if someone dies after breaking their sternum, the death was caused by a related injury, such as:

  • A head injury, brain injury, or an abdominal injury sustained in the same accident
  • A cardiac contusion (a bruise on the heart muscle)
  • A pulmonary contusion (a bruise on the lungs)
  • Aortic disruption (a rupture or tear of the aorta, the main vessel that carries blood from your heart to the rest of your body)

Once again, if you think you’ve injured your sternum in an accident, the best thing you can do for yourself is to seek medical help immediately. It’s very easy to go into shock after a traumatic event, which means it’s possible to have a life-threatening injury in addition to your broken sternum and not know it.

Healing From a Fractured Sternum

If you have a sternum fracture, you already know that it’s painful enough to interfere with your daily life. But the good news is that in the vast majority of cases, sternum fractures will heal without the need for surgery. If you rest, protect yourself from further injuries, and carefully follow your doctor’s orders, you should be well on your way back to good health.

Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm For Help Today

For more information, please contact The King Firm at your nearest location to schedule a free case evaluation today.

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1603 US Hwy 41, Tifton, GA 31794
(229) 386-1376

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3317 Fayetteville Rd, Griffin, GA 30223
(404) 567-4546

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886 Mulberry St, Macon, GA 31201
(478) 292-7272

Or if you would prefer to reach out to us online, please visit our contact us page.

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