Bruised Sternum

If you're suffering from a bruised sternum, chances are that you've recently suffered either from a traumatic injury or been exposed to an outside impact that has caused your sternum to take the injury...
HealthHearty Staff
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
The sternum which is one's breast bone, is a flattened bone that is lodged between the middle of the thorax, which is the chest region between one's chest, and organs. It protects the organs behind it, which consists of both the lungs, and heart, serving as a supporting structure for the shoulder bones, and the ribs.

The ribs are connected to the sternum through the costal cartilage which keeps the ribs intact and in place. Without this breast bone shielding the front of one's chest, there would be a gaping hole in the center; where impact done to this area would prove extremely detrimental to the lungs, and heart. Impact here would be instantly fatal if it didn't pose as a protective shield. Bruised sternum is a kind of injury that affects the breast bone on the lungs.

What causes a bruised sternum? It is the result of car accidents where drivers fail to wear their seat belts while driving or when those taking part in sport activities that are violent in nature, have no protective chest gear. Pain caused from an injured sternum is excruciating depending on the severity of the injury. A bruised sternum from coughing is evident in cases for those who suffer from hacking coughs that are both violent and quite forceful. Apart from the breast-plate playing a significant role in protecting the chest from injury, the ribs too play a part by lessening the force of the impact, where circles the organs starting on the outward side from the chest area, connecting to the back.

Here's where it is then connected to the backbone, which forms a cage like appearance as it comes full circle to the front of the chest area. It also protects major blood vessels from outside forces. The sternum has three important parts to its design and structure, where the top portion is called the 'manubrium' where the first two ribs meet and connect. Then comes the 'body' which is the central part of the sternum that links to the third rib all the way to the seventh rib while also connecting to the eight one, through the tenth rib. The tip of the sternum's end is called the xiphoid process' which is cartilaginous for quite some years before it turns into a bony structure with rigidity.

Symptoms

Now that the causes of a bruised sternum are made clear, it is now time to move on to the signs that occur when one experiences a blow to the chest due to an outside force, that causes him/her to fall prey to a bruised sternum.
  • Bruising
  • Pain when in movement
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Sharp pain while laughing/coughing
  • Prolonged chest pain for weeks.
  • Hurts while breathing
Many people in an attempt to lessen the pain, take in small breaths at a time. These are serious symptoms that take form which could turn into much bigger situational problems should you ignore them. It could lead to issues like shallow breathing or leave room open for infection. It is important to consult a doctor and get the necessary treatment done to determine whether your breastbone has been subjected to a sternum fracture or other problem.

Treatment

A bruised sternum's recovery time outlines that it takes about 4-6 weeks to heal completely should the case be less than traumatic. During this time your chest area will experience difficulties in moving/twisting, especially if one has to take deep breaths. It is important to breathe easily and take the pain since holding it in can result in stunting the healing process. If the problem persists for a longer period, you need to see a physician for help.

Medication

(NSAID) Nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs or opiates are given to help with inflammation problems and pain. The NAIDs are given for a certain kind of patient depending on the severity of the injury. Other medicines for the pain include flurbiprofen, naproxen, ibuprofen, fenoprofen and ketoprofen.

A bruised sternum can take place due to any kind of injury that is forced upon a person in a severe manner, that can prove to be quite damaging to his/her breastbone. The best way to handle this problem is to get the necessary treatment to correct the injuries that the sternum has been inflicted with.