The sternum, also called the breast bone, is the long vertical bone that runs down the center of a person’s chest. The sternum connects to the ribs, protecting the body’s vital organs. Blows to the chest can cause the sternum to bruise, fracture, or break.
The most common causes of sternum injury are car accidents, such as when a person’s chest slams against the steering wheel or dashboard. However, sternum breaks can also result from workplace accidents, falls from heights, and high-impact sports.
If you have suffered a broken chest bone in an accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, you need to understand your legal rights. At Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., our personal injury attorneys can help you seek the compensation you need to cover medical expenses, lost income, and other expenses related to your accident. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Symptoms of a Fractured Sternum
Because the sternum and the ribcage enclose the lungs, the bones move with a person’s breathing. If you break your sternum, that motion can become very painful. Some of the common signs of a broken sternum include:
Pain and soreness in the chest: This pain can worsen with movement such as deep breaths, coughing, or sneezing. The center of the chest may also be painful to touch.
Difficulty breathing: Pain in the chest can make it difficult to breathe.
Bruising: You may experience swelling or bruising in the area around the sternum.
Trouble with arm movement: A sternum fracture can make it difficult to move your arms comfortably or lift heavy objects.
Deformity: You may be able to visibly see an indent or bend in the chest where the bone has broken.
Damage to internal organs: Because the sternum and the ribcage protect internal organs, a break in these bones can cause damage to vital organs.
If you suspect you have injured your sternum, you should get medical help right away. Especially because complications can arise with this type of injury, immediate treatment is necessary.
Diagnosing a Sternum Break
When you go to the emergency room, urgent care clinic, or your primary care doctor, the physician will likely begin by taking a chest X-ray to diagnose the fracture. The doctor may also order a CT scan. These diagnostic tests will help the doctor determine the best course of treatment.
Fractured Sternum Treatment
Sternum breaks can take several weeks to heal, and some people may experience complications that last for months. Depending on how your breast bone broke and the severity of the fracture, your doctor may recommend:
- Rest and ice
- Over-the-counter pain medicine like acetaminophen or ibuprofen
- Prescription pain medication
- Surgery to move the bone back in place
- Physical therapy
One of the complications you may experience while healing from a sternum injury is a chest infection. This can occur when you suppress your coughs due to pain, leaving phlegm to build up in your chest. Therefore, you should not try to suppress coughing while you are healing. Instead, take deep breaths and support your chest when coughing. Contact your doctor if you experience a fever, shortness of breath, or abnormal color phlegm.
Be sure to attend all follow-up visits with your doctor to identify any potential complications as you recover.
What to Do If You Injure Your Sternum in an Accident
If you have been hurt in a car accident or other accident that was caused by someone else, it is crucial to get both medical help and legal help. There are several steps you should take to protect yourself after a serious accident.
See a doctor immediately. Follow all your doctor’s orders. Save all your receipts and medical bills. Keep copies of any records the doctor gives you.
Take photos. If you are able, take photos of the accident scene and any visible signs of injury. These photos can help show what happened to cause the accident.
Get the names and contact information for anyone involved. Also be sure to write down the names and contact information for any witnesses to the accident.
Do not talk to the at-fault person’s insurance company. The insurance company may contact you and ask for a recorded statement or access to your medical records. They may even offer you a settlement to cover the cost of your immediate medical expenses. Do not give a statement or sign anything without first speaking to an attorney.
Talk to a sternum injury attorney. Our personal injury attorneys will review your case for free, with no obligation, to explain your legal options. Our goal is to recover the maximum compensation you deserve after an accident in order to ensure that you are not left with unexpected expenses later on.
Talk to a Fractured Sternum Attorney Now
If you or a family member is struggling to heal from a fractured sternum after a serious accident, please contact Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, P.C., today. Our team is ready to discuss the details of your accident and identify all possible sources of compensation.
Although every case we handle is unique, some of the common types of compensation we pursue in sternum injury cases include:
- Payment for past and future medical expenses
- Compensation for loss of income and a reduction in earning potential for the future
- Damages for the physical and emotional pain and suffering a victim endures
As part of your case, we may work with accident reconstruction experts, medical specialists, economists, and other experts to provide supporting evidence for your claim for full compensation. With more than 35 years of experience, our lawyers have the resources and the skills to handle any complications that may arise in your case.
Call our personal injury law firm at (312) 372-1227 now or contact us online to set up your free consultation. There is no charge for us to start work on your personal injury claim, and we do not charge any fees unless we recover money for you.