Chest Injury

Chest injuries can vary in severity. A minor chest injury may result in a simple bruise to the chest, while a severe chest injury may cause damage to the heart or lungs.

Causes of Chest Injury

Injuries to the chest, like injuries to any part of the body, have a variety of causes which may include:

  • Accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Wounds inflicted by gunshot, knife, or fist
  • Prolonged episodes of heavy coughing

Symptoms of a Chest Injury

Symptoms of a chest injury usually involve pain or discomfort, including one or more of the following, depending on severity:

  • Chest tenderness or pain, particularly when coughing
  • Pain in abdomen, back, or breast
  • Bruising or swelling of the chest wall
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Deformity of the chest
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fainting
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Abnormal blood pressure
  • Cyanosis or blue coloration of the skin

Diagnosis of Chest Injury

A chest injury is diagnosed by a thorough physical examination, followed by one or more of the following tests:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Electrocardiogram or EKG
  • Echocardiogram or ECG
  • Urinalysis

Types of Chest Injuries

  • Rib fractures
  • Flail chest
  • Traumatic asphyxia
  • Pulmonary contusion
  • Cardiac tamponade, blood in the pericardium
  • Cardiac arrest

Treatment of a Chest Injury

The treatment of a chest injury depends on the severity of the trauma. Mild chest injuries can often be treated with rest and over-the-counter medications, while severe chest injuries may require blood transfusions or surgery to prevent life-threatening complications. Treatment for more severe chest injuries may include the following:

  • Administration of pure oxygen
  • CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • Surgical repair of a wound
  • Analgesia, or pain relief
  • Intubation and/or mechanical ventilation

Recovery from Chest Injury

Patients with a chest injury who are conscious and able to breathe on their own, need both rest and lung exercises in order to fully recover. In patients who are unconscious and on mechanical ventilation, medical vigilance is necessary to prevent respiratory complications, deep venous thrombosis, skeletal and muscular changes, and a compromise of the skin's integrity.


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