Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"How serious can a blow to the chest be?"
Last night I was playing in a game and collided head on with a guy much bigger than myself. It immediately knocked the wind out of me and took me about 10-15 minutes to recover. I ended up having to sit out the rest of the game. Now today, I am having difficulty breathing, it is extremely painful to the touch, and I am having a hard time doing even the simplest of things!
A direct blow to the chest can result in very serious injury, whether it is the result of a motor vehicle accident or sports injury. With that in mind, any concerning symptoms should be evaluated by a physician with the ability to obtain basic tests such as x-rays. Starting with the most life-threatening problem, there is a condition known as "commotio cordis" whereby a blow to the chest (over the heart) can result in immediate cardiac arrest and death, which thankfully did not happen to you. You can also suffer a sterno-clavicular joint dislocation, where the ribs shift position relative to the sternum (breast bone). This condition can cause ongoing discomfort and difficulty breathing/speaking/swallowing, and is best diagnosed with x-ray and CT scan if suspicion is high. It can require a procedure to correct if present. Broken or bruised ribs are a common injury that can result from this type of collision, and can lead to significant pain with activities of daily living. Although there is no specific treatment for broken or bruised ribs, many people feel relieved to have an explanation for their symptoms and to know it is not a more serious problem. These are only a few of the possible injuries caused by a blow to the chest, and the best thing to do is to be evaluated by a physician who can examine you and obtain/interpret a chest x-ray if necessary.
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