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Cracked Sternum

Cracked Sternum

Cracked sternum can lead to swelling, pain, and discomfort in the chest. This article provides some information about its symptoms and causes.
Batul Nafisa Baxamusa
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2018
The sternum is a long, flat bone in the center of the chest. It is commonly referred to as the breast bone. It is the connecting junction for the rib cage and helps protect the lungs and heart from physical trauma. Sometimes, a person can experience a broken sternum.
Causes
About 2/3rd of the cases involves automobile accidents. This injury occurs when the chest bangs itself to a steering wheel or dashboard. Other cases involve broken sternum due to osteoporosis and osteopenia. Aggressive sports like football or wrestling can also lead to this fracture.
Signs
There are certain signs that indicate fracture or dislocation of the breastbone. Here are some of these signs that indicate a fracture.
Chest Pain
When there is pain and tenderness in the center of the chest, it may indicate a broken sternum. The pain aggravates when one coughs, sneezes, breathes in deeply, etc. The pain is felt on the middle of the chest and is very painful to touch. The center of the chest swells and may show bruising.
Breathing Problems
If one has trouble breathing, and experiences a lot pain and uncomfortable feeling in the chest is observed, it may indicate a fracture. However, do not consider breathing problems. One needs to consider other signs as well, and undergo diagnostic tests like chest X-ray to confirm a crack on the breastbone.
Visible Injury on Chest
Apart from bruises and swelling, one may observe that there is a deformity in the chest structure. A blunt force may cause an indentation or bend in the center of the chest. When one feels the area, he/she can find a slight bend in the bone area.
Change in Heart Rhythms
A blunt force may cause abnormalities in the heart rhythms. These abnormalities can be seen in an electrocardiogram indicating a blunt force or trauma to the breastbone.
Popping
A few people tend to experience a popping sound from their breastbone. This may indicate an injury or trauma to the chest region. The strain or crack on the joints may cause a popping sound due to the pressure exerted on the chest wall.
Treatment
A chest X-ray helps in determining trauma and injury. Most of the cases does not need hospitalization. The fracture is treated using management of the associated injuries. No cast is required to help the bone heal. In some cases, surgery may be required to bring the bones back into place. Other treatments involve use of analgesics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and opiates to help relieve the pain.
The affected person is asked to restrict their daily activities for about 5 to 6 weeks. The pain may continue to be felt, even after the bone heals for about 2 to 3 months. Physical therapy helps the affected person to learn breathing exercises that helps prevent muscle spasms due to chest muscle inactivity. Do not move, push, pull, or pick up heavy objects till one fully recovers from the condition, in order to avoid intense pain.
This injury causes a lot of discomfort and pain when breathing. If one experiences swelling, inflammation, bruising, in the center of the chest, speak to a doctor for further diagnosis of sternum pain. After a few weeks of inactivity, one will observe improvement in the pain and discomfort. Soon, one will find their chest is back to normal and they will feel better.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.