Much of the discussion about traumatic injuries from car accidents centers around the brain and spinal cord injuries. This makes sense as these components make up the central nervous system and facilitate much of the body’s functions.
Nevertheless, other parts of the body may be subject to trauma from a car accident. For example, the seat belt, steering wheel or dashboard may all strike the chest. Because the chest contains many of the other vital organs in the body, this can result in serious injuries.
A rib fracture may involve a break in the bones themselves or the cartilage that helps hold the rib cage together. Rib fractures do not always require medical treatment in the hospital, but they can cause complications such as damage to organs in the chest cavity.
According to University of Michigan Health, symptoms of a rib fracture include sharp pain that can be severe. It may get worse with lying down on the affected side or applying pressure to the site. It may get worse with coughing or breathing.
Other serious chest injuries
Injuries to the vital organs may occur primarily because of trauma to the chest or secondarily because of damage from a broken rib. The organs damaged may depend on the point of impact. For example, a blow to the side may injure the spleen or the liver, while a blow to the breastbone can damage the heart or its largest blood vessels.
Symptoms of serious chest injuries include shortness of breath or pain. The damage may cause internal bleeding, which can lead to hypovolemic shock.