Chest Injury

Your chest helps support your upper limbs and head and protects your vital organs. When you injure your chest, you can experience outcomes ranging from temporary pain and stiffness to life-threatening organ damage.

Chest injuries can happen in almost any type of incident involving the intentional or negligent actions of others. 

For instance:

Because your chest holds components that are vital to your body’s function, injuries to this area can be severe.

What Is the Anatomy of Your Chest?

What Is the Anatomy of Your Chest?

The human body has four sections: your limbs, head, thorax, and abdomen. Your thorax, the scientific name for your chest, contains your heart, lungs, and the major blood vessels inside the thoracic cavity. It is bounded by your ribcage, neck, and diaphragm.

You have 12 pairs of ribs connected to 12 thoracic vertebrae. The top seven pairs of ribs, called the true ribs, attach to the sternum through segments made of cartilage. The next three pairs are called false ribs. They attach indirectly to the sternum by connecting to the true ribs with cartilage. The bottom two pairs of ribs, the floating ribs, only attach to your spine.

Ligaments hold the ribs to the spine. These tough, elastic bands of tissue allow some movement of your ribs but prevent them from dislocating.

Intercostal muscles between the ribs help expand your chest when you breathe. Additional chest muscles overlie the ribcage, attaching through tendons to your ribs, collar bones, shoulder blades, and spine. These muscles help you move your upper body and shoulders and give your chest the strength it needs to carry your arms and head.

What Types of Chest Injuries Can a Victim Suffer?

Chest injuries come in three types:

Penetrating Chest Injuries

When a sharp object pierces your chest, you have a penetrating chest injury. These injuries can tear soft tissue and rupture organs.

A workplace accident can result in a penetrating chest injury if you fall on something sharp like an exposed nail or when something gets propelled into your chest. For example, you would suffer a penetrating chest injury when a collapsing scaffold drives a pipe into your chest.

Blunt Chest Injuries

You suffer a blunt injury when an object strikes your chest without producing an open wound. These injuries can fracture bones, tear soft tissues, and dislocate joints. You can suffer a blunt injury in a car accident when your chest hits your seat belt, steering wheel, or dashboard, or when you fall and hit your chest on the ground.

Hyperextension Injuries

Hyperextension injuries occur when your chest gets contorted by bending, twisting, or stretching abnormally. Hyperextension can tear soft tissues and dislocate joints. 

For instance, you might experience a hyperextension injury when you get whipped around during a traffic crash. It can also result from an awkward landing during an elevated slip and fall accident.

What Are Some Chest Injury Examples?

Chest injuries often refer to trauma to the bones and soft tissues of your thorax, while thoracic injuries tend to reference injuries to the organs inside the thoracic cavity. Some common injuries that can result from chest trauma include the following:

Chest Bruises

Chest bruises result from blunt injuries that break blood vessels under the skin. Bruises produce discolored patches, pain, and swelling, but they typically heal in a few days without any complications.

Chest Sprain

Sprains happen when ligaments hyperextend. Specifically, you can sprain your chest when an injury hyperextends the ligaments holding your ribs to your spine. 

You might feel or hear your rib pop during your accident and experience symptoms such as:

  • Spine pain, particularly when breathing
  • Inflammation
  • Limited range of motion
  • Bruises

A mild chest sprain will probably heal within six weeks, while a severe sprain could take longer.

Chest Strain

Chest strain happens when the muscles or tendons hyperextend, such as when you hyperextend the intercostal muscles between your ribs. But you could also strain the muscles in the front or back of your chest that help you bend or twist your upper body.

A chest strain can cause symptoms such as:

  • Chest pain when inhaling
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Weakness

Like a sprain, a mild chest strain can take up to a month and a half to heal.

Broken Ribs

A blunt injury to your chest can break your ribs, which can produce symptoms similar to those experienced with chest strains. Some symptoms of a rib fracture include swelling and pain along the ribs when breathing, twisting, or bending.

Broken ribs typically do not produce a visible deformity. The exception is when you develop a severe fracture called a “flail chest.” This injury occurs when you break at least three ribs in at least two places. This causes sections of the ribs to get separated from the joints at the sternum and spine, resulting in loose rib segments that float on top of the chest wall.

A common characteristic of a flail chest is the injured area physically going in when you inhale and out when you exhale. This happens when the disconnected rib fragments move in the opposite direction as the rest of your chest when you breathe. Without treatment, flail chest has a high risk of causing lung damage or death.

Torn Cartilage

Cartilage in the front of your chest can rupture when hyperextended or hit by a blunt force. Without the cartilage, everything shifts out of place, producing pain, inflammation, and a clicking sensation in the front of your chest.

Cartilage heals very slowly. As a result, you might experience these symptoms for several months after tearing the chest cartilage.

How Can You Get Compensation For a Chest Injury?

You can seek compensation for a chest injury if you can prove it resulted from someone else’s negligent or intentional actions. An intentional act is one in which the at-fault party intends to cause harmful contact. 

To prove negligence, you must show that the other party failed to exercise reasonable care and caused your injury as a result. Negligence does not require intent to harm you. It only requires carelessness. If a driver runs a stop sign and T-bones your car, you can probably pursue a claim for negligence.

Once you prove liability, you can seek compensation for your economic and non-economic losses, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering

To discuss the compensation you can seek for your chest injury, Reach out to Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers at (619) 344-0360 for a free consultation.