Chest Injury

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Chest Injury

Chest Injury

Your chest protects your heart and lungs. It helps support your upper body and head. And the muscles in your chest perform functions ranging from breathing to moving your shoulders and arms.

When you get into a car accident, your chest is also the most likely body part to get injured. Chest bruises are among the most common complaints after a car accident due to seat belt injuries.

Read on to learn some facts about chest injuries and the compensation you can get for one.

What is the Structure and Function of Your Chest?

What is the Structure and Function of Your Chest?

There is no accepted definition for the human chest. For this article, the chest refers to your thorax. It does not include the thoracic cavity and the organs inside your thorax, such as your heart and lungs. Instead, it only includes the bones, muscles, and connective tissue that form and protect the thoracic cavity.

Your thorax covers the section of your body between your head and abdomen. This includes your shoulders and ribs.

At the top of your chest, you have two collar bones. These bones anchor muscles that run to your head, neck, shoulder blades, and ribs.

Your ribcage sits below your collar bones. You have 24 ribs arrayed in 12 pairs. Each pair of ribs fits into a joint with the spine. Ligaments hold the ribs to the spine.

The top seven rib pairs, called the true ribs, attach to the sternum with cartilage. The next three rib pairs, called the false ribs, attach to the true ribs through cartilage. The bottom two rib pairs, called the floating ribs, attach only to the spine.

These bones provide structure to your chest. They also anchor the chest muscles through tendons.

Your chest muscles include intercostal muscles that sit between the ribs. These muscles help to expand and contract the ribs to assist in breathing. The chest muscles also include large muscle groups that move your upper body, shoulders, neck, and arms.

What Causes Chest Injuries?

Accidents can injure the chest in a few ways, including:

Penetrating Injury

A penetrating injury happens when you get hit in the chest with something that pierces the skin. For example, if a piece of glass gets pushed into your chest in a motorcycle accident, you have a penetrating chest injury.

The ribs do a good job of protecting the thoracic cavity, but sometimes objects will break the ribs or slide between the ribs. When this happens, the object could damage the heart, lungs, or major blood vessels inside the chest.

Blunt Force Injury

A blunt force injury happens when something hits your chest without piercing it. When you hit the seat belt during a car crash, you will have a blunt force injury.

Blunt force injuries can cause bruises, broken bones, and torn cartilage. They can also stretch or tear muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Hyperextension Injury

A hyperextension injury happens when the soft tissue gets stretched beyond its capacity. The most common source of hyperextension injuries happens during a car crash.

Your body will twist and bend under the force of a car collision. As it does, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage could stretch and tear even if your body does not hit anything.

What Are Some Examples of a Chest Injury?

Chest injuries can take many forms depending on the tissue damaged in the injury. Some examples of chest injuries include:

Strained or Sprained Chest

Muscles provide strength and movement to your body. They attach to bones through tendons. Strains happen when muscles or tendons stretch or tear. In the chest, strains can affect the large chest muscles in the front or back of the chest. They can also affect the intercostal muscles between the ribs.

Strains produce symptoms such as:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Weakness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Limited range of motion

Ligaments hold bones together in joints. Sprains occur when ligaments stretch or tear. The most likely ligaments to suffer a sprain in the chest include the ligaments that hold the ribs to the spine.

Common symptoms of a sprain include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Stiffness
  • Bruises
  • Popping sound or sensation during the injury

Sprains and strains usually heal on their own in four to six weeks with rest. Your doctor may also prescribe icing the injury and taking anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the inflammation. Doctors rarely operate to repair chest sprains and strains.

Fractured Rib

A blunt force can snap a rib. When a rib fractures, you could experience pain, swelling, and shortness of breath. Ribs will heal without surgery in six to eight weeks.

Doctors will usually prescribe rest. They no longer recommend taping the chest for a broken rib because shallow breaths can lead to pneumonia.

Collapsed Lung

Although the lungs sit inside the thoracic cavity, a collapsed lung starts with a penetrating chest injury. When an object pierces the pleural lining of the chest, air can leak into the pleural cavity. This air presses on the lungs and prevents them from expanding.

As the lung collapses from the air pressure, you will struggle to inhale. You will also experience pain and panic from not being able to breathe. Without emergency treatment, you could suffer permanent lung damage. You could even die.

What Types of Compensation Can You Get for a Chest Injury?

If your chest injury resulted from the negligence of another, you may be entitled to seek injury compensation. This compensation will cover your economic damages, like medical bills, lost income, and diminished earning capacity.

The compensation can also cover the reduction in your quality of life due to pain, mental anguish, and an inability to participate in activities.

For minor chest injuries, like a seat belt bruise, you might have minimal damages. But for more serious injuries like strains, sprains, fractures, or a collapsed lung, you might need to take substantial time off from work. You may also receive extensive medical treatment and physical therapy.

The effects of chest injuries can range from temporary pain and stiffness to life-threatening damage to your vital organs. Your damages from a chest injury could vary widely.

To discuss the compensation you could seek for your chest injury, contact the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation.

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