If you travel in South Carolina, by car or by foot, you have a very good chance of suffering injuries in a motor vehicle accident. In fact, in recent years, the state has consistently ranked among those with the highest rates of accidents causing injury or death.
Many factors determine the kinds and severity of damages you may suffer in an accident. One common injury is a fractured sternum. In addition to playing impact sports like football, a car accident is the most common way a person can fracture the sternum. Whether you are a driver, passenger or pedestrian, a sternum injury can require a long, painful recovery.
What happens if my sternum is fractured?
The sternum is also known as the breastbone. It connects the right and left sides of your rib cage in the middle of your chest. This provides vital protection for your heart and lungs. Blunt-force trauma to the chest can fracture that bone, leaving those organs vulnerable to injury. This trauma may come from the force of the seat belt, striking the steering wheel or other blow to the chest.
Because your rib cage moves every time you inhale, a broken sternum can make it painful to breathe, laugh, cough or move your arms. This will likely make it difficult for you to do even common activities, such as dressing yourself or lifting objects. You may be unable to work for some time. In fact, for most victims, a sternum fracture may take about 10 weeks to heal.
What medical treatment can I expect?
The typical treatment for a sternum fracture may include the following:
- Ice on the affected area
- Pain medicine, either prescription or over-the-counter
- Physical therapy to relieve stiffness in shoulders and arms after weeks of inactivity
- Surgery if there are complications
Because you are unable to cough, your lungs may be susceptible to infection, and your doctor will want to see you immediately if you develop symptoms such as fever, discolored or bloody phlegm, shortness of breath, or severe pain that does not abate after about eight weeks.
After an accident that leaves you or a loved one injured, you may have many questions. What should I do next? Should I accept an insurance company settlement for my car accident? Who will pay for my lost wages after an accident? With the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney, you will find the answers to your questions and guidance in the best course of action for pursuing the compensation you need and deserve.