How to Identify Sternal Fractures

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Sternal fractures often result from a blow to the chest. Often times a blow to the chest comes in contact sports such as football. Another frequent cause is in an auto accident, when an airbag fails to deploy in a head-on collision or an unrestrained driver hits the steering wheel. Sometimes, the seatbelt itself when used can hold someone from flying forward, but can lead to a sternal fracture. If you've been injured by a blow to the chest, how do you know if you have a sternal fracture or if you just bruised the bone and/or muscles or strained something? This article will explore how to identify sternal fractures.

Tips & Warnings

  • Often, sternal fractures are accompanied by other injuries as well. Commonly you will also have soft tissue injuries of the surrounding cartilage and muscle of the sternum. Sometimes, the muscles around the heart may be injured as well and require special care.
  • If you get an xray and it does not reveal a sternal fracture but you have immense pain, insist on other tests to try and discover the fracture.
  • If you are injured, don't take chances not getting treatment. It's always better to be safe and get checked out for broken or fractured bones.
  • Sternal fractures generally take weeks to heal. In some cases, however, especially when there are also broken ribs and injury to the muscles, the healing period can last much, much longer.
  • You may continue to experience pain in the chest long after the sternal fracture itself is considered healed. This is because of the issue to soft tissues and potential continued bruising of the bone that did not actually lead to a break. Don't be surprised if you are in pain for a year or more following chest injuries.

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