How to heal a broken sternum

Written by ana cassis
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The sternum, also called the breastbone, is a bone that connects the ribs in front of the heart. Broken sternums are painful and slow to heal, with bed rest and anti-inflammatory medication being the most effective treatment. In cases of severe fracture, surgery may be required along with a monitoring of the heart through electrocardiograms. If the sternal fracture interferes with breathing, mechanical ventilation through intubation may also be required to reduce pressure from the lungs on the sternum. Most commonly, simple steps may lead to a successful recovery with time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Medical supervision
  • X-rays
  • Anti-inflammatory medication
  • Pain-relieving medication
  • Comfrey herb poultice

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  1. 1

    Make a doctor's appointment immediately if a sternal fracture is suspected.

  2. 2

    Have X-rays of the front and side of chest and other tests, such as electrocardiograms, taken following the doctor's assessment.

  3. 3

    Take anti-inflammatory medication to reduce the pressure on the broken area of chest along with pain-relieving medication to reduce the stress caused by the pain associated with the fracture.

  4. 4

    Stay immobilised for a minimum of two weeks, administering pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication as needed or prescribed by the doctor.

  5. 5

    Supplement the healing of sternal fracture with comfrey poultices applied to the sternum area daily while on bed rest. Comfrey herb is easily absorbed through the skin and promotes the growth of connective tissue, bone and cartilage because of its high allantoin content.

  6. 6

    Monitor improvements and keep sternum area immobilised until at least 75 per cent of healing process has occurred.

  7. 7

    Take any additional treatments advised by your physician for more-severe sternal fractures. Bed rest and medications will also be a part of the healing process of a broken sternum if surgery or intubation are required.

Tips and warnings

  • Most sternal fractures do not require surgery, but a medical assessment is imperative because of additional complications that may accompany this condition.

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