A bruised sternum is usually due to a strong blow, injury or trauma to the front chest. It is important to note that the sternum along with the ribs serves as a shield that protects the anterior part of the chest.
The healing period for a bruised sternum is based on the extent of the injury. For bruising from a mild injury, it takes approximately 4-6 weeks to fully heal. The treatment aims on alleviating the discomfort caused by the injury.
What are the indications?
The indications of a bruised sternum require immediate treatment before they become serious. In case the symptoms are severe, it might be an indication of a serious issue such as a fracture. The usual indications include the following:
- Pain during movement
- Bruising is evident in the breastbone area
- Tenderness and swelling to the touch
- Continuous chest pain that lasts for several weeks
- Pain produced while breathing
- Piercing pain can be felt if the individual coughs or laughs
What are the usual causes?
Injury or trauma to the chest is the usual cause for a bruised sternum. Engaging in activities that cause or increase the risk for a bruised sternum include the following:
- Vehicular accidents in which the seat belt used while driving places pressure onto the sternum
- Episodes of hacking cough that are violent can place significant force on the sternum. If not properly treated, forceful coughing can damage the sternum.
- Sports that are violent in nature increases the risk for the injury which typically occurs if protective gear is not used.
- Instruct the individual to breathe calmly to prevent worsening the damage to the sternum as well as promote healing.
- Excessive movement must be avoided during the healing period of a bruised sternum. Repeated activities that place stress on the sternum and worsen the symptoms must be avoided.
- A healthy and balanced diet must be followed to hasten the recovery process.
- Low impact exercises must be started once the indications of a bruised sternum settle. These exercises can help restore the range of motion of the individual.
- NSAIDs and pain medications are prescribed by the doctor to reduce the symptoms particularly the pain and swelling from a bruised sternum.
- Ice massage is done by rubbing the bruised area for around 5-10 minutes at least 3 times throughout the day. The cold helps reduce the swelling on the sternum.
- Micro-current therapy is a procedure in which the bruised region is exposed to an electric current to repair the tissue and reduce the pain.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a bruised sternum is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize and manage injuries to the chest by taking a standard first aid course with one of our training providers.