I injured myself during a rugby game, now have sudden onset breathlessness?

No significant conditions in history
No current medication
No allergies
Non smoker

About 19 months ago I injured myself during a rugby game. I fell on my right side and another player fell on my upper left side (chest and shoulder/upper arm). On impact of the second player i felt my left clavicle shift towards my sternum, causing pain. I continued to play for the duration of the match (20-30 minutes) but stayed away from any further collisions. I did attempt to lift players for line outs, but was unable to lift my left arm above my shoulder without pain. After the match, as i cooled down and my heart rate returned to normal, the pain in my left sternum and shoulder muscle increased. It was enough to limit movement of my left arm upwards. I also had pain in the left of my chest, worsening with deep breathing, coughing and laughing. There was a small lump at my left sternum, which shrank over maybe 2 months. The left chest pain subsided over 2 weeks and by a month was completely gone. I could not sleep on my left side for maybe 2 months before the pain in my left collarbone let up. I still have an ache/stiffness in my left upper shoulder muscle (the muscle running from the base of the ear down to the top of the arm). I did not seek medical treatment as I had no difficulty breathing or swallowing, and assumed I would just be told to rest it. I returned to rugby 14 months ago with no trouble other than the left shoulder stiffness, which i now consider chronic.

3 months ago i experienced sudden onset breathlessness upon returning from a foreign holiday. For a day or so before I came home I had a dry cough with occasional green/white sputum. After blood tests and a chest X ray at hospital I was told I had a chest infection, and was given a 5 day course of antibiotics. the cough subsided within 3 days of returning.

Coming to right now, I am still having mild difficulty breathing. It is constant, from the waking up to going to sleep. It feels as if I won’t breathe unless I force the movements, pushing a little bit more air out in order to pull a bit more in under negative pressure. It does not hinder any activities significantly. It doesn’t worsen with exercise, but it doesn’t improve either. It is most obvious when lying in bed.

My question (finally) then, is, would my collarbone injury be linked in some way?

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Ayman Darrag
6:22 am

Hi and welcome to question doctors.com
Since you have had this injury a long time ago with no effect on breathing over a 19 month period …I do not think it is related ..the initial injuries was mostly contusions and they have gone ..but your shoulder stiffness must have been treated as you Are so young to live with such problem ..
The current breathing difficulty is related to the recent chest infection as the vital capacity decreases with chest infections and you need rehabilitation with breathing exercise (diaphragmatic) and incentive spirometer device training ..

Original poster
Original poster
6:30 pm

Original poster here, thank you Doctor for your response. Would cardiovascular exercise, such as simple running or cycling, be suitable for rehabilitation?

Ayman Darrag
9:44 pm

Sure they will help also..