16 days ago I broke my sternum in what was kind of a freak accident. I had a clean break of the bottom third of my sternum. No additional injuries to my organs or bone structure. At this point it feels a heck of a lot better. I have regained pretty much full range of motion, and as long as I'm not bending all the way over, carrying something heavier, or coughing or sneezing, I am essentially pain free. Even when I do experience pain, it really isn't all that severe anymore. The only time the pain becomes more severe is when I apply direct, even light, pressure to injured area...
My question is basically about when I can safely return to work, even if it's only on a part time basis and on modified duties? The emergency room doctor said it would take about 4-6 weeks to fully recover... But he also said that the pain would last longer and be more severe than it is at the moment. Money is getting tight and I'm thinking about heading back to work on Monday, which will have given me 18 full days of recovery time. Is this a bad idea? Do I ABSOLUTELY need more recovery time? How high is the re-injury risk with this kind of injury? What activities would be acceptable, and which activities would you advise me against?
You don't say what you do for a living. If you have a desk job, no strenuous activities, you could probably go back to work now. But, if you do heavy manual labor of any type, it may take awhile longer. This is always a hard question, because every person's injury is different, heal differently, and have different jobs. Once the fracture starts to heal (becomes "sticky"), at about 10 days or so, the chance of displacing it is small (of course significant trauma will almost always cause reinjury). (Time for a bone to heal depends upon a lot of factors: such as, which bone was broken, how displaced the ends were at the time of injury, the blood supply, how it was treated, etc) Most of the time, your symptoms dictate how long you have to sit out. Some jobs/schools will require a release before you can return. This is something that you really should discuss with your physician. Hope you feel better. Good luck.