Along with ribs, sternum acts as a shield that will protect the front area of the chest. If you receive a severe blow to this area it can result in the sternum becoming bruised. In most cases a bruised sternum that stems from a less traumatic injury will require 4-6 weeks to fully heal. Home remedies and medical helps can help relieve and cure this discomfort.
Symptoms of Bruised Sternum
It is important to address any symptoms you experience right away to prevent them from becoming more severe. Very severe symptoms may also indicate that you are suffering from a more advanced problem like a sternum fracture.
- Pain when moving
- Bruising along the breastbone area
- Prolonged pain in the chest (this may last for weeks)
- Sharp pain when coughing or laughing
- Pain when breathing
Causes of Bruised Sternum
Trauma to the chest or breastbone area will commonly result in bruising the sternum. Some activities are known for increasing the risk of these issues.
If you were wearing a seatbelt while driving and experience an automobile accident the force exhibited by the seatbelt to hold you in place may bruise the sternum.
Sports that are violent in nature may increase your risk of bruising across the body. Bruising of the sternum is more common when playing sports that do not require you to don protective chest gear.
If you have been coughing recently and this action has been quite forceful or violent is can put pressure on the chest plate. Repeated forceful coughing can result in a bruised sternum if you cannot get this reaction under control.
Home Remedies for Bruised Sternum
Work to breathe easily to avoid agitating the damaged area during the healing period of bruised sternum. Speak to doctor if the discomfort lasts for longer time than outlined for failing to alleviate symptoms of a bruised sternum may increase the risk of infection.
Taking ice cubes and rubbing them on the bruised area for 5-10 minute intervals up to three times each day can help you take down swelling around the sternum. You should wrap these ice cubes in a cloth first rather than applying ice directly to your skin as the excessive cold may cause damage to the exposed skin.
Avoid any excessive movement while the sternum is healing. Avoid any type of repetitive stress that aggravates your symptoms so you can resume normal activity at a quicker rate. Avoid any type of strain on this area, including heavy lifting. Smoking will increase the amount of time for this injury to heal. Nicotine in tobacco products compresses the blood vessels and prevents adequate blood flow to your injury which can limit the amount of nutrients this tissue getting.
Following the right diet can help to improve your recovery time. Doctors often recommend a rainbow diet that includes several different fruits and vegetables each day to get the nutrition you need to promote healing. Cherries, guava, cabbage, spinach and carrots are often promoted for their healing properties.
Fresh pineapple can provide the body with a digestive enzyme to take down swelling or bruising. Bromelain supplements in the store have similar effects on the body. These are often prescribed to assist with bone injuries, pain and swelling. Supplements high in vitamin C are also recommended to increase your immune system and lower healing time. Ointments and supplements that contain vitamin K area known for improving the heal time of bruises.
Low Impact Exercise
Once your symptoms have started to subside, participating in exercises can begin to restore your range of motion. Performing non-weight bearing exercises such as swimming or biking can help to reduce stiffness. Consult with your doctor before performing these activities and stop if any of these activities cause aggravation to your injury.
Medical Treatments for Bruised Sternum
During this procedure the bruised area of the body will be exposed to an electric current that will help repair the tissue and reduce pain. This therapy is designed to correct the body’s electrical fields that were disrupted during the injury so that the bones can heal more quickly. You should not feel the current during therapy due to the minimal doses applied, which should prevent the body’s defense mechanisms from increasing pain or swelling in the area.
In order to reduce the severity of your symptoms you may wish to take painkillers including NSAIDs like ibuprofen which will help you manage swelling and discomfort. Painkillers like acetaminophen are helpful in cutting pain from bruising as well.