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Blunt Chest Trauma in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 5, 2023.

Blunt chest trauma is a sudden, forceful injury to your child's chest. It is often caused by a car accident, sport's injury, or a fall. Your child may have no signs or symptoms. Instead, your child may have bruising, or pain and soreness. The pain may get worse when he or she moves, deep breathes, or coughs. You may notice your child holding the injured area.

How is blunt chest trauma diagnosed?

Tell your child's healthcare provider when and how the accident happened. Your child's healthcare provider will examine the injured area for bruising and broken bones. Your child may need an x-ray or CT scan to check for injuries or bleeding. Your child may be given contrast liquid to help injuries show up clearer in the pictures. Tell your child's healthcare provider if your child has ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is blunt chest trauma treated?

Your child's healthcare provider may recommend medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These medicines will help to decrease pain and swelling. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it. Your child may also need any of the following:

  • Apply heat to the area. for 20 to 30 minutes every 2 to 6 hours for as many days as directed.
  • Have your child take deep breaths and cough. Deep breathing and coughing helps prevent pneumonia. Have your child take a deep breath and hold it as long as he or she can. Then, have your child let out the breath and cough forcefully. Have your child repeat this 10 times every hour while awake. Your child may need to hug a pillow to his or her chest while doing this exercise. This will help decrease pain.
  • Have your child rest as directed. Do not let your child play contact sports. Do not let your child do activities that could cause him or her to get hit in the chest. Ask your child's healthcare provider when he or she can return to normal activities.

Call 911 if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing, or your child's lips are pale or blue.
  • Your child is short of breath.

When should I seek immediate care for my child?

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child is coughing up yellow, green, or bloody sputum.
  • Your child has new or increased pain.

When should I contact my child's healthcare provider?

  • Your child's pain does not get better, even after your child takes pain medicine.
  • Your child's pain does not get better within 8 weeks.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Further information

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