Bruised sternum

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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?

Bruised sternum
The indications of a bruised sternum require immediate treatment before they become serious.

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.


Home remedies

  • 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.

Medical treatment

  • 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.

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