Human bones are designed to fulfill several functions and in order to be able to do so, they need to be strong and resilient. This is why bones do not break all the time, which would be a living hell, since bone fractures hurt quite a bit. However, there are circumstances and situations in which the force exerted on the bones is too intense and the bones cannot hold them, so they break.
Sternum is actually one of the stronger bones in the human body, located in the chest. This long, flat bone serves a very important purpose - it protects the internal organs in the chest cavity, namely the heart and the lungs. Without it, any impact in the chest area would be very harmful and possibly fatal. Sternum injuries usually occur in car accidents and in contact sports, as well as in assaults of large, blunt weapons. Sternal fracture means that the sternum is cracked or broken, and it causes a lot of pain as well as movement impairment. Even though this injury is not very dangerous, the recovery time can be quite long.
Treatment of sternal fractures
A person who has received a major blow to the chest bone needs immediate medical care. It is best to go to an emergency room at the nearest medical facility. After the physical exam, doctors will probably do an X-ray to determine the extent of the injury. In most cases, patients with sternal fractures do not require hospitalization.
For mild sternal fractures, doctors generally recommend bed rest and administration of pain killers to alleviate pain and tenderness of the chest area. However, in severe cases, a surgery may be required to set the bones right.
Bed rest should be taken seriously, which most patients actually do, because sternal fractures are particulary painful during movements. People who have sustained a blow to the chest often breathe improperly, because the pain is aggravated by deep breathing. This is not recomended because it can lead to more serious breathing problems.
Two or three weeks after the injury the pain will begin to subside and it will be possible to engage in very mild physical activity, such as walking, lifting objects and mild exercise.
Moderate or intense physical activity can be resumed after the pain subsides significantly or completely, which usually occurs in two or three months. During the recovery, it is highly recommended to undergo physical therapy, in the extent and intensity that depends on the severity of the injury.