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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: Complication from fractured sternum?

 bikergrandma - Wed Feb 27, 2008 11:48 am

6 monhts ago i was thrown from my motorcycle and landed with my chest across the edge of the windshield.
x-rays were taken and it was determined that i had a fractured sternum - not displaced but a noticeable stepoff on the x-ray.
i had considerable pain for a while which eventually went away and now is mostly gone - EXCEPT when I'm laying in bed. sometimes the pain in my sternum starts as soon as i lie down but always wakes me up by 2-3am with so much pain that it hurts to move my body and arms - even breathing hurts. as soon as i'm up it is still quite painful to move arms and take in moderate to deep breaths. however after an hour or two this pain dissipates until it is gone. this happens every night. i'm feeling short rested most of the time. all my primary dr. says is that this fracture can take 1-2 yrs to completely heal. even pt's who've undergone open heart surgery is feeling better sooner that this. what do you think can cause this and is there something i can do but wait? thanks
 bikergrandma - Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:12 am

Although I do appreciate what you are doing - helping those who have limited resources, I would like to ask why my question is not being anwered. Am I just looking in the wrong place for the answer or Is there anything else I need to do?
I'm still having trouble with sternal pain at night while lying down. My PCP is just "poo-pooing" my questions and concerns.
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Jul 15, 2008 10:04 pm

User avatar Hello bikergrandma -

First, my apologies for your question not having been replied to sooner. It's hard to know how yours may have been missed. I myself cover a different area normally, but was just scanning the various topics tonight and found your question and will attempt to help with this, although I'm not sure I will be able to give you any real useful information.

Sternal fractures, comparable, as you mention, to open-heart surgery patients, often heal adequately for activity fairly quickly, but complete healing can take a long time, and lying supine (on one's back) can often cause a settling effect in the chest which will aggravate soreness or frank pain that acts exactly as you describe.

I don't see where pain ever deserves being poo-pooed, and am surprised your doctor hasn't offered some sort of pain medication you could at least take at night. One of the milder opiods like tramadol, taken at night, could serve two complimentary purposes by reducing your pain level and making you a little more drowsy, which together might get you a good, uninterrupted night's sleep. If I were you I'd bring this up to the doctor and, if he continues to poo-poo your discomfort, perhaps a second opinion would be in order.

I hope this finds you feeling better and that you will follow up with us. I'll be advised if you post here, so your post wouldn't be missed next time.

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