If you have had a blow to the sternum that is causing you discomfort, especially severe discomfort, you should seek medical attention. Even if you think you are “okay”, you may have injured something more serious. It’s better to be safe than sorry, as they say.
If the symptoms persist (or get worse) there is a chance you may have experienced a fracture to the sternum, and this will require more urgent medical care.
The symptoms you will experience when suffering with a bruised sternum are:
- Pain when you breathe
- Pain when moving the torso
- Pain when coughing and laughing
- A general and painful tenderness to the chest
- Bruising along the area of the breastbone
There are many things that can cause you to have a bruised sternum, although the most common reasons include sports injuries, vehicle injuries (accidents), and a harsh and hacking cough.
In the case of a car crash, the sudden pull on the seatbelt could leave you with a bruised seatbelt if you were travelling at speed. High impact sports can cause bashing into the torso, and anything that requires bashing often results in bruising – a bruised sternum is just one of those injuries. When you have a cough that persists for a long time, or you have a very bad cough that is causing you to violently move, the repeated action could put pressure on your sternum, and could eventually bruise it also.
Where possible, take life easy. The more movement you do and pressure you put on your sternum, the more it will hurt. Repetitive movements are not a great idea if you want to heal quickly and effectively, and you should definitely leave all the heavy lifting to someone else. You should take care of yourself – make use of those sick days you keep piling up, and stay at home in bed for a few days. The rest really will do you good – this is an injury you’ll want to take it slow for.
Make or buy yourself some ice cubes, and grab a handful of them to wrap up in a tea towel. You don’t want to put ice directly on your skin – this can cause burns and quite a lot of discomfort, but you can wrap them up in something – a towel, flannel, pillowcase, etc. It’s just water – you can wash whatever you used afterwards.
For around ten to fifteen minutes, apply the wrapped-up ice to the affected area, and rub it around. Give your own painful bit a good massage, as firm as you can manage with the tenderness. The ice will act to numb the pain for a while, and can work really well alongside painkillers, and any massage is going to encourage blood flow to the area. This can also help with the pain.
Eating a good diet, and taking vitamin supplements where necessary, will ensure your body is in the best condition. When this is the case, your body is well equipped to handle the injuries you inflict on it – it will heal much quicker. A healthy and balanced diet is essential for a healthy body, and that means leaving the fast food alone. You should also avoid alcohol – this will increase your healing time and may not work well with any pain relief you might be taking.
Exercise is still important, even when you are suffering at the hands of a bruised sternum, and where possibly you should attempt to do some light exercise. this might be walking to begin with, increasing the length of your walks each time. When you feel comfortable, more low-impact exercise is a smart choice – swimming will give you a great way of working out without putting pressure on the area. This will help you to work out without experiencing too much pain.