The sternum can take many months to regain full strength after a fracture, according to PhysioAdvisor. If the sternal fracture is isolated, meaning that there is no associated damage to the surrounding organs or tissues of the body, then patients can usually expect a full recovery.
Sternal fractures are caused by direct impacts to the chest and are most likely to occur during car accidents or contact sports. These fractures are usually not serious, but it is possible for there to be coincident damage to the heart, lungs or other vital organs or for the bones of the chest to become misaligned. Surgery may be required to realign bones or treat damage to organs or surrounding blood vessels. Patients are advised to work with a health care professional during recovery to develop strength training and postural exercises to retain flexibility and aid in recovery, explains PhysioAdvisor.
While recovering, it is important that patients take deep breaths and also cough throughout the day to avoid developing pneumonia, according to Baylor Scott & White Health. It is recommended that patients seek immediate medical care if they experience fever, increased difficulty with breathing, nausea or vomiting, pain in the tops of the shoulders, or pain in the jaw, teeth or arms.