If you are not wearing your seatbelt when another motorist rams your car, you could hit the steering wheel hard enough to break your breastbone or sternum. To make matters worse, a breastbone fracture often coincides with other injuries such as lung and heart contusions. With up to 7 percent of sternum fractures associated with car accidents, it is not the most common collision-related injury, but it can be a severe one. A broken sternum attorney can help you protect your economic future while you focus on healing.
Why Is the Sternum Important?
The sternum is a vertical bone at the center of your chest that connects your collarbones and upper ribs. Along with the pectoral muscles, your sternum protects critical organs, bones and your spinal column from injury. When you break your breastbone, it can no longer adequately protect your organs. Consequently, you may suffer complications that require extended medical care and a longer recovery time.
Broken Sternum Symptoms
Extreme blunt force trauma is the leading cause of sternum fractures. Some symptoms to look for if you have hurt your chest in an accident include:
- Soreness and discoloration directly above the breastbone
- A crunching sound or sensation during movement
- Swelling above the site of the injury
- Painful or labored breathing
- Diagnosis and Treatment
Your physician will order X-rays of your chest if there is a good reason to suspect the breastbone is fractured. An MRI or CT scan may be necessary to determine whether you have collateral damage to your heart or lungs and if so, the extent of that damage. Because such testing can be costly, you should speak to a broken sternum attorney about financial compensation.