Chest Pain after a Car Accident? Go to the Doctor Immediately
After a car crash, you might not feel normal but not know exactly what is wrong. Fortunately, you don’t need to self-diagnose your own injuries. Instead, you can go to your doctor or the hospital and have someone look at you.
Chest pain is a common complaint after a car accident. It is also a sign of a serious injury. To protect your health, ask a medical professional to check you out so that you can receive prompt medical attention, if necessary. Below, we look at a few of the serious injuries that could be causing you to feel pain in your chest.
Rib fractures are fairly common injuries after car accidents, even if you were wearing a seat belt. You can experience shooting or sharp pain with every breath you take. The pain alone is bad enough, but rib fractures pose a threat to your internal organs.
Also, broken bones are at risk of damaging arteries and blood vessels, which can have disastrous results. A broken bone warrants immediate medical attention.
The sternum runs up the middle of your chest and is attached to the ribs. The force of a car accident can press the sternum back toward the spine, in the process bruising and damaging the heart. This type of injury is called a myocardial contusion. In addition to pain, you can experience:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased heart rate
- Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
A myocardial contusion is not to be confused with a heart attack, but it is a serious injury, nonetheless. A doctor will order tests and possibly need to monitor your heart.
Your lung can be punctured by a broken rib or by direct trauma with something, such as the steering wheel. This type of injury refers to air filling up the space between the layers of the lung’s tissue lining. This air makes it hard for the lung to expand.
Treatment can focus on providing oxygen to the body and/or relieving the air in the lung so that the victim can breathe unassisted. Depending on the severity, a victim might need to undergo surgery to correct the problem. A punctured lung can take several months to heal.
Torn Muscles, Ligaments, or Tendons
These types of soft-tissue injuries might not seem particularly serious compared to a heart contusion. However, any injury to ligaments, tendons, or muscles can cause swelling and put pressure on nerves which, if not relieved, can suffer permanent damage. Accident victims might also need surgery to help with healing, which carries its own complications.
Chest injuries are expensive to treat and serious enough that they might keep you out of work for months. The cost of medical care often exhausts any personal injury protection benefits a motorist has, so it is vital to consider whether you can bring a lawsuit.