How long for a broken sternum to heal?

If you have ever broken your sternum, known medically as the breastbone, through laughter or by other means, then you understand how painful it can be. Because we know that healing time is an important factor when navigating recovery from injuries of any kind, let’s dive right in to answer this pressing question: How long does it take for a broken sternum to heal? Well my dear reader, buckle up and get ready for some bone-talk!

What is the Sternum?

As unexciting as anatomy may seem to the naked eye,the sternum (also called breasting with amusement) plays an integral role in our respiratory system structure. This flat bone sits at the front-middle of our chests and connects both ribs via cartilage; all while protecting vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

Types of Sternum Fractures

There are 3 main types of sternal fractures:

  • Simple: A single fracture limited only on one side.
  • Comminuted: Multiple fracture segments separated into several pieces.
  • Traumatic Sternal Dislocation: The worst-case scenario where separation between two halves of sternums happens.


You might think that breaking something located within close proximity to essential body parts must mean you were involved in serious trauma but fear not because even sneezing intensely enough could lead your bones down ‘break-town’! Here are common causes that can lead towards a simple/common fracture:

  • Laughing too hard (we’re being honest here)
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falling from heights
  • Direct impact during contact sports

With unhealthy lifestyle choices alongside poor nutrition causing brittle bones these days including major genetic disorders like osteoporosis — difficulties involving breathing patterns exist if dislocated too affecting daily functionality.Therefore regular checkups necessary especially after reaching age milestones depending on family history possessing these conditions.


If a fracture has occurred or it traumatized your sternal bone in any way you’ll feel various sensations for instance:

  • Swelling over the chest
  • Pain; particularly on taking deep breaths, sneezing and coughing.
  • Bruising (although not always)


Your doctor will execute several x-rays of the injury site to assess the extent of damage. Occasionally CT scans might become necessary especially when experiencing breathing difficulties even post regular intake appropriate medication.


After scrutinizing diagnosis reports through intense introspection experts usually suggest following different regimens depending upon severity ranging from mild drug medications to invasive surgeries aiming towards full rehabilitation. Here are a few treatment options:

  • Rest: It’s quite straightforward that activity may disturb pain during early stages, therefore complete rest is important to avoid further complications.

Note: If patients possess difficulty in breathing here surgeons would advise careful selection regarding movement for at least next six weeks even post intensive and tedious care through advising staying still draped within casts wherever possible

- Mild Analgesics such as Tylenol & ibuprofen
- Prescription Pain Medications

Depending greatly upon patient’s current health customs recovery period can span between three months – 24 weeks however if surgery becomes necessary patients must ensure running with strict regime making multiple trips for follow-ups keeping compatibility with prescribed medications throughout. ‘Doctors orders!’


When both simple and comminuted types fail to heal due to improper connection points among damaged bone-segments thorax surgery specifically open reduction internal fixation serves only solution (because life loves throwing curveballs) but because placing hardware inside risky area available fields requiring increased care —caution prevalent from surgeon side.

Surgical Steps

1) Surgeons ready incision sites right above affected point surrounding proximal costal cartilages

2) Razor-sharp knife blades used carefully towards connecting access sites, marking sternal edges

3) Special wiring/plates fixation required minutely

4) Wound sealed properly using surgical stitches.


Congratulations, Sunshine! You’ve made it through surgery (hopefully)! After restful vacation staying mentally stable appreciate participating rehabilitation schedule keeping each health session religiously on the calendar.

  • Pain relief medication will still be prescribed for at least two weeks after the operation; so don’t miss out!

  • Gradual increase in physical activity necessary under supervision of physiotherapy experts such as walking regularly during morning or evening hours adding basic exercises progressively following medical recommendations up until full recovery.

Post Surgery Precautions

Health needs sometimes push towards taking extra care avoiding careless actions endangering fragile conditions with sternum hardware within you popping an excessive bag could easily cause huge impacts for instance, particularly involving upper body arms and shoulders.

  • Note: Patients must avoid performing daily tasks including driving long distance, heavy lifting (including pets), pushing light to heavyweights especially even post completion having breathing issues securing appointment immediately essential

Because typical improvement periods may take between six months to a year — patience become your best-virtue while unitedly working with healthcare workers aiming full recuperation sans worrying about timelines because becoming harsh onto oneself ultimately produces negative results. Life is always richer than every injury ever occuring so think positively!

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