The sternum is a long, flat bone in the centre of the chest. It is connected to the ribs with cartilage. Together with the ribs, it helps to protect important organs in the chest, such as the heart and lungs, from damage.
The sternum is also called the breastbone.
Most broken sternums are caused by car crashes.
In most cases, a broken sternum will heal on its own. It can take 3 months or longer for the pain to go away.
The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.
You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: March 20, 2017
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
& William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.