Chest Contusion: Definition & Symptoms

Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

A chest contusion is a bruise to the chest that is usually caused by blunt force trauma. In this lesson, learn about the definition and symptoms of a chest contusion.

Chest Contusion

Matt is a 12-year-old middle school student who loves to ride his bike. One recent day, Matt and his neighborhood friends built a bike ramp with a large wooden board supported at one end with several bricks. Each of the boys wanted the bragging rights of being able to jump the highest off of this ramp.

Matt was the first of the friends to jump the ramp. He started about 200 feet in front of the ramp, peddled as fast as he could, went over the ramp and became airborne. As Matt's bike landed, the impact of the landing caused his chest to hit his handle bars, causing a loud thud and a lot of pain in his chest.

After the impact, Matt had difficulty breathing because each time he inhaled, the pain in his chest would increase. Matt quickly rode his bike home and told his mom what had happened. Matt's mom immediately drove him to the emergency room to get checked out. At the hospital, the doctors took many x-rays of his chest. After evaluating the x-rays, one of the doctors told Matt and his mom that he didn't suffer any major damage, but he did have a chest contusion.

Chest Contusion: Definition

The chest is the area in the front of the body from the shoulders and neck to the diaphragm or bottom of the ribs. A chest contusion is a bruise to this area. This type of contusion, or bruise, is usually the result of direct blunt force trauma to the chest caused by car accidents, sports collisions, falls, and in Matt's case, bike accidents. Chest contusions can affect the skin, muscle, or bones of the chest, with skin contusions being the least severe and bone contusions being the most severe.

Chest contusions are caused by blunt force trauma, such as the trauma caused by a car accident.
car accident

Chest Contusion: Symptoms

The main symptom of a chest contusion is pain at the site of the trauma. This pain can often increase during breathing, which can make breathing become quite difficult. Chest contusion pain may also make it very difficult to sleep since lying down can put extra pressure on the chest, causing increased pain. Other symptoms include swelling and tenderness.

The most common symptom of a chest contusion is pain.
chest pain

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