Severe Chest Contusions in a Car Accident
Following a car accident, you may suffer injuries that do not show immediate symptoms. It is never a smart choice to avoid going to the emergency room or skip seeking medical treatment altogether. Sure, you might suffer a little soreness the next day and think it won’t slow you down for long. However, many severe injuries develop with time.
Some injuries, like chest contusions, may not show signs immediately after the accident. A chest contusion may cause minor pain or bruising where your chest came in contact with the steering wheel or seat belt. Otherwise, you may appear totally fine. However, symptoms of a chest contusion typically become much more severe over time. Symptoms may worsen in the days or weeks following the accident.
What Is a Chest Contusion?
Chest contusions are caused by a direct blow to the chest and frequently occur during car accidents. A forceful blow can cause damage to blood vessels in the chest. Additionally, there may be direct damage to the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, or airways. The trauma from the accident typically causes more damage to the organs and tissues beneath the skin. Many victims with chest contusions can easily walk around the accident scene immediately after injury because the symptoms take time to develop.
What Complications or Symptoms Occur From a Chest Contusion?
A victim with a chest contusion may suffer pain in the chest or surrounding area. Damage to the ribs, cartilage, and muscles can all cause substantial pain throughout the recovery process. Chest contusions may restrict mobility and cause difficulty exercising or coughing. Chest contusions may also cause:
- Difficulty breathing. A patient with damage to the lungs or surrounding tissue may find it difficult to take a deep breath. Some chest contusions may prevent one side of the chest from moving, making it hard to breathe deeply.
- Bruising to the heart. Bruising to the heart, or myocardial contusion, may restrict the heart’s ability to pump blood. In some cases, myocardial contusion can result in the patient’s death.
- Internal bleeding. Chest contusions can cause internal bleeding, including bleeding into the lungs. Bleeding into the lungs may cause difficulty breathing and swelling, slowly restricting the patient’s ability to intake adequate oxygen.
In some cases, symptoms may show up immediately after the accident. In others, patients may notice that symptoms increase steadily over the days surrounding the accident. Prompt medical treatment can help diagnose chest contusions and prevent potential complications, decreasing the risk of death.
Treating Chest Contusions After an Accident
Following a severe accident resulting in chest contusion, patients should immediately seek medical treatment. If at any time you notice difficulty breathing, chest pain unrelated to movement or activity, or signs of internal bleeding, you should seek immediate medical attention. Follow all recommended treatment prescribed by your doctor after the accident. Treatment for chest contusions may include:
- Rest. Many victims of chest contusions cannot engage in heavy lifting or intense activity until the injury has a chance to heal. Often, restrictions prevent victims from returning to work or participating in athletic activities until injuries heal fully.
- Pain medications. Severe bruising from a chest contusion can cause a great deal of pain. Patients may also experience broken ribs and bruised muscles. Some patients may require pain medication to manage pain after a chest contusion. Pain medication may efficiently decrease physical pain, making the injury more manageable. However, pain medications may also have adverse side effects. Commonly, pain medications cause decreased mental function and drowsiness. In many cases, patients cannot return to work while on pain medications.
- Protecting the injured area. Further trauma can increase damage to the area, resulting in a longer recovery time or, in some cases, more significant injuries. Victims should not tape broken ribs. Taping broken ribs could restrict breathing. Restricted breathing my cause patients to take shorter breaths, increasing the risk of pneumonia or other breathing difficulties following the injury.
- Careful stretching. Careful stretches can help restore mobility after any type of severe injury, including chest contusions. However, it is important to be sure you slowly increase stretching to ensure you do not aggravate your injury.
Chest contusions can take weeks or months to fully heal, leaving patients on restricted activity. Restricted mobility may hinder victims from resuming normal life activities. Most doctors encourage patients with chest contusions to return slowly to normal activities and to withdraw if pain increases. Restrictions may it difficult for victims to return to work or athletic activities for some time after their injuries. Thus, restricted mobility may result in a loss of income, depression, and anxiety.
What to Do If You Have a Chest Contusion After a Car Accident
If you suffered a chest contusion in a car accident, first and foremost, you should seek medical treatment. If you do not seek medical attention at the time of the accident, you must be evaluated as soon as you notice signs of a chest contusion. Early diagnosis of a chest contusion will decrease the risk of dangerous side effects. Additionally, it is important to generate a record of your injuries and the medical treatment you received. After seeking medical treatment:
- Follow all recommendations given by your doctor. Your doctor may set a specific timeline that determines when you can return to work or resume your normal activities. Do not rush this timeline, you may only cause further injuries.
- Rest. Without rest, your body cannot heal properly, and your risk of further injury increases substantially.
- Document your recovery. In some cases, chest contusions can have an unpredictable healing timeline. Your recovery process and the limitations imposed on you by your injury may vary. Depending on your health at the time of the accident and your other injuries, you may require more treatment. Document your recovery process to help with your car accident claim later.
- Get in touch with a personal injury attorney. If you suffered a chest contusion in a car accident, you may need an attorney to help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible to determine if you are entitled to compensation for your injuries.