Bruised Sternum Symptoms: How To Treat A Bruised Breast Bone

Bruised sternum is usually caused by a blow on the chest while playing, or due to an accident, particularly a car driver. Before discussing bruised sternum, let us know what sternum is, and what its importance is in human body. Sternum is an elongated flat bone that you feel in the middle of chest. Sternum is also called breast bone. The average length of sternum is 17 cm. The upper end of the sternum supports the clavicle (Collar bone). The cartilage of first seven ribs is attached to the margins of sternum.

What Is Sternum Or Breast Bone?

Sternum bone is made of three parts; the top portion is called manubrium, the first two ribs are connected to this part. Then comes the central part or the body of the sternum, the third rib to seventh rib is attached to the body of sternum. The end part of the sternum is called xiphoid process. It is the smallest of all the three parts of sternum. It is thin and elongated; the xiphiod process is cartilaginous in youth after some years it becomes rigid bony structure.

Along with ribs, the sternum forms a bony cage which protects vital organs of the chest such as heart, lungs, and major blood vessels. The breast bone becomes a shield in front part of the chest. A severe blow to the sternum can cause fracture or bruised sternum.

Bruised sternum is a common injury among drivers who do not wear seat belts while driving. It is also common with people playing certain sports such as foot ball, cricket where the chest can get hurt with blunt force, or in people who are not wearing protective chest shield.

Symptoms Of Bruised Breast Bone

Depending on the severity of the injury, sternum pain can be mild to severe. You can bruise your sternum with violent and forceful coughing. Bruised sternum is common in cigarette smokers. Even a simple fall can cause bruising if a blunt object collides with chest.

After knowing the causes of bruised sternum, it is important to know what are the signs and symptoms that a person experiences when he is hit by an external force or a blow on his chest, that results in bruised sternum.

  • Tenderness and pain on the breast bone.
  • Pain while laughing, coughing.
  • Moving his hands up and down.
  • Swelling.
  • Pain in the breast bone while getting up from the bed.
  • Pain in the middle of the chest while deep breathing.
  • It takes 3 to 4 weeks for a bruised sternum to heal.

In order to get relief from pain, many people take short breaths which may not be good for their general health.

How To Treat A Bruised Sternum?

Pain in the chest immediately after an injury can be indicative of bruised sternum; it is necessary to consult your doctor to get accurate diagnosis.

  • Before starting the treatment your doctor may advice you for an X-ray chest to ascertain the damage to the sternum and the rib cage.
  • After proper examination and evaluation, he may advice the person to take rest and prescribe anti inflammatory and painkiller medication.
  • Ice fomentation on the breastbone and hot water fomentation later on is effective home remedy in relieving pain.
  • Breast bone injury generally takes longer time to heal. The time taken to heal is between 4 to 6 weeks. Till that time the person should avoid physical strenuous work.


  1. Peggy Hill said:

    I am having pain in my breast bone. I got x-ray done and my doctor has told it is bruised breast bone. The pain is severe and I have trouble doing anything. I am using heat and cold fomentation regularly. It does not seem to help much. What should I do?

    March 22, 2013
    • PUP said:

      Avoid doing any type of hard work. Avoid lifting heavy weight. Continue warm and cold fomentation. Take medicines prescribed by your doctor for relieving the pain. Usually doctors prescribe anti inflammatory and painkillers.

      March 23, 2013
  2. Crystal said:

    I am having pain in between my breast and it hurts even when I breathe or cough. Is there any home remedy to cure this discomfort?

    November 4, 2013
    • PUP said:

      The pain that you are experiencing is due to inflammation in sternum bone. The muscles and nerves as well as ribs attached to sternum of breast bone is irritated due to many causes. One of the main reasons is heavy lifting, trauma to breast bone etc. Avoid lifting heavy weight or doing heavy physical work. Alternate hot and cold fomentation over the area gives immense relief. Do it regularly once or twice in a day.

      November 5, 2013
  3. Mary Rakes said:

    I had a severe fall last night and I think I’ve been bruised in the chest. I could not get some sleep from time to time, what should I do?

    March 14, 2014
    • PUP said:

      Consult your doctor to rule out if there is a rib fracture. Your doctor may recommend you to get an X-ray of chest which may determine if there is a rib fracture. Try to sleep on the side which does not hurt you.

      March 14, 2014
  4. SM said:

    I got hit by my friend in my upper middle chest area close to the sternum. I took Ibuprofen 600 mg and the pain has reduced. Earlier I could feel the pain in the neck but now it hurts only when I sneeze or cough. Should I visit the doctor? I read somewhere that such injuries may puncture the lungs or heart. I do not have any swelling or bruise.

    March 23, 2014
    • PUP said:

      It was a direct blow on your chest, but the symptoms are alleviated with medication. As you are not having pain while breathing, there is less possibility of damage to deeper organs. However, you may proceed for a simple X-ray of chest, which may reveal whether there is any damage to lungs or vital organs underneath the rib cage. If it was a puncture wound with sharp object than immediately consult your doctor. It may take few more days to heal, however at any time you feel the pain has increased consult your doctor as soon as you can.

      March 24, 2014
  5. Dona said:

    I was hugged very tightly about a week back. Now I have pain in my right lower breast. It hurts while breathing and coughing. I think I have bruised my chest. Can you suggest any natural remedy for this?

    March 25, 2014
    • PUP said:

      Warm water fomentation or applying a heat pad for few minutes will alleviate the pain. Follow it for few days. Turmeric is a natural anti inflammatory remedy. Take a pinch of turmeric powder and add one teaspoon of honey. Eat the prepared content two times in a day for reducing pain. A gentle massage with a balm or anti inflammatory ointment will also relax the tense intercostal muscles which are responsible for pain.

      March 28, 2014
  6. BB said:

    My son met with a car accident 3 days back. He is experiencing pain in the sternum caused by the seat belt. He is complaining of pain while sneezing or coughing and difficulty in breathing while bending. He starts panting and feels breathless after walking for some time. Is this due to bruised sternum? Should he go to the ER?

    March 30, 2014
    • PUP said:

      Pain in chest and sternum should not be neglected even though it appears minor. He should go to the ER for a thorough examination. It is necessary to rule out any damage to the vital organs in the thorax.

      April 1, 2014
  7. AW said:

    I got into a real bad car accident on November 1st 2011. Broke my left arm and bruised up my body pretty bad, one being in my breast bone (sternum) right in the middle. It is now February 2015 and it is still very painful. Anytime I lift my arms, when I’m sleeping, cough, and laugh. I’m just wondering if you’d have any advice on how to take care of this. It says it should generally take up to 4-6 weeks to heal. But now it is over 3 to 4 years.

    February 19, 2015
  8. JM said:

    I had a fall and my wrist went slamming into my breastbone. It now hurts when I turn or laugh or cough. The area is tender whenever I touch. What should I do?

    June 10, 2017
    • PUP said:

      Breastbone is also called sternum. It is a flat bone in middle of chest. Some of the ribs and collar bone are attached to sternum. It is a part of bony ribcage which protects the organs of chest. If you have hurt your sternum, first consult your doctor to rule out if there is any trauma to the ribs attached to the breastbone. Your doctor will advise for an X-ray of chest to ascertain if the amount of damage to breastbone and ribs. Your doctor may also prescribe anti inflammatory medicines. At home you can apply cold fomentation over the bruised area. Normally the injury takes slightly longer time to heal.

      August 28, 2018
  9. Karen said:

    I had a slam belly flop to the ground this Thursday. I know that I have bruised my breast plate. I had several years ago open chest surgery and all the symptoms that go with the injury. I am not lifting anything heavy and avoid bending over. Also I am minimizing lifting arms over head as that also is painful. I am also taking IB 800 mg for pain and anti inflammation. I would like to know about how long I have to do this?

    October 11, 2017

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