Fractured or Broken Sternum – Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Seeking Compensation for Your Injury

What Is A Fractured Or Broken Sternum?

Parts of the Human Sternum – Manubrium (green), body (blue), xiphoid process (purple). By Anatomography – en:Anatomography (setting page of this image), CC BY-SA 2.1 jp, Link

The sternum or breastbone is a bone that attaches to the first seven ribs of the collar bone. The breastbone is found in the center of the chest cavity. Injuries to the breastbone, usually from blunt trauma, can lead to a fractured or broken sternum. The bone may fracture, break, swell or bruise depending on the injury.

What Causes A Fractured Or Broken Sternum?

A common injury in automobile crashes, a broken or fractured sternum may occur when the breastbone strikes the steering wheel or dashboard of an automobile. A seatbelt or airbag may also caused a sternum fracture.

A study titled Effect of seat belt legislation on the incidence of sternal fractures showed a threefold increase in the incident of sternal fractures since seatbelt legislation was passed…Most patients sustaining sternal fractures while wearing a seat belt received no other serious injury. The study also revealed, there is a greater chance of  sustaining a rib fracture if the airbag does not deploy. According to the study mentioned above, “a higher proportion of rib fractures was identified on x-rays for patients restrained by only a belt (44% fractures) than for occupants restrained by both a belt and an airbag (24% of fractures).”

What Are The Symptoms Of A Fractured Or Broken Sternum?

The most common symptoms of a sternum fracture are pain, spasms, and tenderness of the chest. Moving, coughing, sneezing, and breathing make pain worse. Some people experience crepitus – a crunching sound when they move or breath – the sound is the broken bones rubbing together. Beyond the breastbone, the internal organs, like the heart and lungs, may become injured and hurt. Other related conditions include pulmonary contusions, cardiac contusions, and myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart) or myocardial infarction (heart attack).

How Is A Fractured Or Broken Sternum Diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made using medical imaging tests that may include x-rays and CT scans.

How Is A Fractured Or Broken Sternum Treated?

Treatment depends on the severity of the break. Minor breaks or cracks can be treated with rest and limited activity. Pain medications, like ibuprofen or narcotics, are prescribed for pain management. In serious cases, surgical repair may be necessary if the bones move out of place. If the bones shatter into fragments then surgery might be needed to removed the bone fragments. Wires, screws and plates can be used to firmly secure the bones within the body.

Compensation For Fractured Or Broken Sternum

If you are experiencing painful and difficult breathing after a traumatic incident or a car crash, you may have a fractured or broken sternum. Make sure you are examined and diagnosed by a medical doctor immediately. You may be able to pursue compensation for damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, permanent injury or disability, costs of physical therapy and rehabilitation, lost wages from missed work, diminished earning capacity, mental anguish and emotional distress, punitive damages, and/or property damage or loss.

Massachusetts Personal Injury Lawyer for Accident Claims Involving a Sternum Fracture

If you or a loved one has suffered a fractured or broken sternum because of someone else’s negligence and would like to discuss your legal options, contact our experienced Boston personal injury and accident victims attorneys today for your free consultation. The Law Offices of Gerald J. Noonan has a proven track record with over 35 years of legal experience representing victims of chest injuries in southeastern Massachusetts.

No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call our experienced Boston area personal injury and accident claims attorneys to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 588-0422 and you will have taken your first step to find out how best to obtain civil justice and compensation for your injuries.  You can also click here to use our Free Case Evaluation Form.

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We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case.


Our adult and child personal injury trial lawyers assist accident victims throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts including, but not limited to, those in the following counties, cities and towns: Plymouth County including Brockton, Plymouth, Bridgewater, Marshfield, Hingham, Duxbury, Wareham, Abington, Rockland, Whitman, Hanson, Middleborough; Norfolk County including Quincy, Stoughton, Dedham, Weymouth, Braintree, Avon, Holbrook, Randolph, Canton, Sharon, Brookline, Franklin; Bristol County including New Bedford, Fall River, Taunton, Attleboro, Mansfield, Easton, Raynham, Norton; and the Greater Boston area including Cambridge, Revere, Lynn, Everett, Dorchester, Roxbury and Somerville.

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