A fractured sternum is typically caused by blunt trauma. It is important to note that the sternum is a bone that links to the initial 7 ribs to the collarbone. In most cases, the injury is brought about by vehicular accidents. The treatment for the fracture is based on the seriousness of the damage.
Getting enough rest and limiting activity is enough for minor cracks in the sternum. The usual recovery period for a fractured sternum is 2-3 months. During this period, any aggravating activity must be avoided.
Cold therapy using an ice pack can be applied for 20 minutes every 2 hours during the initial 3 days after injury to lessen the discomfort and swelling.
Pain or discomfort can disrupt with respiratory activity including coughing and deep breathing which increases the chances for developing pneumonia.
The discomfort might also arise due to concurrent injuries such as collapsed lung, fractured ribs or chest contusions.
For an uncomplicated case, anti-inflammatory drugs are enough to control the discomfort. In case narcotics are necessary, the smallest dose must be taken for a limited span of time to prevent respiratory depression.
Surgery might be needed if the bones are displaced of its proper alignment, especially if there is difficulty breathing. If there is a need for ventilator support or intense pain, it also requires surgery. The bony fragments might be removed, and any leftover pieces might be fused together using wires or a plate that has been secured by screws.
More Information / Disclaimer
The information posted on this page on a fractured sternum is for learning purposes only. Learn to recognize the indications by taking a standard first aid course with Mississauga First Aid.