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How Serious Is a Chest Contusion and How Can I Treat It?

Following a car accident, you may suffer from several injuries, such as a chest contusion, that do not show immediate symptoms.

A chest contusion may cause minor pain or bruising if your chest encountered the seat belt or steering wheel during a car accident. Though you may feel fine, the symptoms of a chest contusion can become more severe over time.

Learn more about the seriousness of chest contusions and how they are treated from our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills.

What is a Chest Contusion?

Chest contusions are caused by a direct blow to the chest and often occur during a car accident. A forceful blow to the chest can damage the blood vessels in the chest, and there may also be direct damage to the heart, lungs, liver, spleen, and airways.

Many victims of chest contusions can walk around the scene of the accident after the injury because the symptoms and complications can take time to develop.

Symptoms and Complications of Chest Contusions

If you have a chest contusion, you will likely suffer pain in the chest that may radiate to the surrounding area. Pain in the ribs, cartilage, and muscles can be caused by trauma to the chest and can be quite uncomfortable throughout the recovery process.

The symptoms of chest contusions include:

  • Pain and tenderness
  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Stiffness
  • Broken ribs
  • Injured muscles
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain with or without movement
  • Muscle tightness

Complications of chest contusions include:

Difficulty breathing: You may find it difficult to take a deep breath if the lungs or the surrounding tissue were damaged. Some chest contusions can also prevent one side of the chest from moving, making it quite hard to breathe deeply.

Bruising of the heart: A myocardial contusion or bruising to the heart can constrict the heart’s ability to pump blood and in severe cases can result in death.

Internal bleeding: Internal bleeding can also be caused by a chest contusion, including bleeding into the lungs which can cause swelling and difficulty breathing.

In some cases, these symptoms will show up immediately after the accident, but in many cases, patients may notice symptoms and pain increasing steadily in the days following the accident. Prompt medical treatment is important to diagnose and can help prevent the possible complications of a chest contusion.

Treating Chest Contusions

Following a car accident, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately, even if you don’t think you are injured.

Treatment for chest contusions may include:


You must let your injury heal and refrain from heavy lifting or exercise. Sometimes, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may be restricted from returning to work or participating in exercise or strenuous activities until your injuries fully heal.

Pain Medication

A great deal of pain can be caused by a chest contusion with severe bruising. Some people may even have broken ribs. Pain medication may be required to manage the pain from a chest contusion, but it is important to remember that pain medications can have some adverse side effects like drowsiness and decreased mental function.

Protecting the Injured Area

Further trauma can make the damage to your chest worse, resulting in a long and painful recovery. It is important to protect the injured area and take it easy as you heal.


Careful stretching can help restore mobility after an injury, including a chest contusion. It is important to start slowly to ensure that you do not aggravate or worsen your injury.

Remember, it can take weeks or months to fully heal from a chest contusion, so take your time, allow your body to heal, and call our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills for compassionate physical therapy and car accident care.

Were You in a Car Accident?

If you have been in a car accident and have suffered from a chest contusion, seek medical attention from our team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills. Our doctors and physical therapists can create a treatment plan that will help you on your road to healing.

Call us to schedule an appointment with our friendly team at Impact Medical Zephyrhills today; 813-737-7965!