Chest Injuries- Types, Symptoms and Treatment

What is a chest injury?

Chest injury is an injury or condition that occurs in and around the chest area. The chest area typically involves places including rib cage, lungs, upper abdomen and sternum. There are several types of chest injuries, which can take place. Some of the major chest injuries, their symptoms and treatment are mentioned below:

Types of chest injuries

1. Flail chest

An injury that takes place when a part of the rib cage breaks under severe stress and becomes disconnected from the rest of the chest wall.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Rapid or weak pulse

  • Difficult breathing

  • Pale skin

  • Bluish skin (Cyanosis)

  • Pain while breathing.


  • Try to stabilize the flail segment

  • Place the patient in a comfortable position- half sitting and leaning to the injured side.

  • Loosen any tight clothing

  • Provide respiratory support (high-flow oxygen, ventilation when required)

  • Provide aggressive analgesia

2. Rib fracture

An injury where the flexibility is alleviated rather than the whole bone disconnecting from the spinal area (broken ribs).

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain that aggravates when the patient breathes or coughs

  • Rapid breathing

  • Bloodstained sputum

  • Tenderness at the location of injury


  • Place the patient in a comfortable position- normally half-sitting and leaning to the injured side.

  • Provide high flow of oxygen

  • Encourage the patient to take short breathes

  • Provide chest physiotherapy

  • Gentry place sufficient padding to the injured area

  • Immobilize the arm using a collar or sling

3. Lung contusion

The most common types of chest injuries, which can occur in the absence of chest wall injury. The injury is often associated with other injuries including fractures and haemothorax.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Shortened breath

  • Chest pain

  • Coughing

  • Rapid breathing

  • Faster heart rate

  • Bruising of the chest

  • Spitting blood

  • Blueness of the nail beds or lips (in severe cases)

  • Sweating (in severe cases)

  • Feeling dizzy or faint (in severe cases)


  • Enabling the patient to perform breathing exercises, which help with deep breathing and prevent pneumonia.

  • Provide high flow oxygen,

  • Provide analgesia

  • Provide chest physiotherapy

  • Provide strong ventilatory support

  • Intubations in severe cases

4. Penetrating chest wound

Another chest injury taking place when an object infiltrate through the flesh into the chest area. The injury may cause severe internal damage within the upper abdomen and the chest.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Pain at the site of injury

  • Unconsciousness in severe cases

  • Painful and tough breathing

  • Sounds


  • Place patient in a comfortable position with affected side down

  • Covered the injured area to prevent air flow in and out of chest cavity

  • Cover the injured area with a plastic sheet, aluminum, use sterile dressing or pad

While, these are some of the many chest injuries occurring in patients, identifying the right cause, symptom and providing the right CPR training is what matters the most that can save the life of the casualty in emergency cases.


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