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Blunt Chest Trauma


Blunt chest trauma is a sudden, forceful injury to your chest. It is often caused by a car or motorcycle accident, blast injury, or a fall. It may also be caused by a sports injury, such as a hit from a baseball. It may be painful to take deep breaths, cough, and sleep. It can take up to 6 weeks for your injury to heal completely.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a fever
  • You become short of breath
  • You cough up yellow, green, or bloody sputum.
  • You have new or increased pain.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your pain does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • Your pain lasts longer than 8 weeks.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely. Prescription pain medicine may cause constipation. Ask your healthcare provider how to prevent or treat constipation.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Self care:

  • Deep breathe and cough to help prevent pneumonia. Take 10 deep breaths every hour, even when you wake up during the night. Brace your ribs with your hands or a pillow while you take deep breaths or cough. This will help decrease your pain.
  • Use your incentive spirometer to help you take deeper breaths. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and take a very deep breath. Hold your breath as long as you can. Then let out your breath. Do this 10 times in a row every hour while you are awake.
  • Sleep in a recliner or upright position, the first few nights, to decrease the pain.
  • Keep moving around your home. Do not stay in bed. Take short walks. This will help your lungs work properly and decrease your risk for pneumonia.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals decrease the amount of oxygen in your body. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Blunt Chest Trauma (Discharge Care)

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.