How Do I Know If I Have a Broken Rib

With twelve ribs on each side, your thoracic cage has the important job of protecting your heart and lungs from trauma, in addition to providing respiratory support. Damage to your rib cage can be life-threatening depending on the severity of the wound if not treated right away. It is essential to seek medical attention if you have a broken rib.

Wondering what the symptoms and causes of a broken rib are so you can tell if you have one? We’ll go over that below. Plus treatments and dangers involved with broken ribs.

Cause of Broken Rib

A broken rib, also called a rib fracture, is most often caused by direct impact from sports-related injuries, falls, or motor accidents.

The extent of a broken rib ranges from cracked bones to multiple ribs that are in entirely separate pieces, known as Flail chest. While cracked ribs are still painful, they don’t bear the same dangers of broken ribs.

Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of a broken rib.

Broken Rib Symptoms

Broken rib symptoms
In most cases, the pain from a broken rib is instant, additional common symptoms of a broken rib include:

  • Breathing pain
  • Tenderness
  • Swelling
  • Stinging
  • Bruising
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness

Complications and Dangers of Injured Ribs

Since the rib cage protects the thoracic cavity, the dangers involved with trauma to the rib cage are deadly if not examined properly. A broken rib can easily puncture the aorta or another primary blood vessel, collapse a lung, damage your spleen, liver or a kidney.

Your chances of fracturing a rib during impact increase if you have a disease that affects bone density like osteoporosis, or cancer. Being aware of your health and avoiding risks that can lead to injury is essential to protecting your rib cage and thoracic cavity.

Broken Rib Treatment

Taking proper care of your injury can increase your chances of a fast recovery since most broken ribs heal on their own in one to two months.

Here are a few recommendations to help mend your broken rib, as well as warnings on what to avoid.

Do’s and Don’ts: Mending a Broken Rib

1. Consult with your healthcare provider about over-the-counter painkillers like Ibuprofen to help ease discomfort and reduce swelling.

2. Ice the injured area for twenty minutes every hour, avoiding direct contact with your skin for the first few days to reduce swelling and inflammation.

3. Rest your body.

How Do I Know If I Have a Broken Rib

4. Hold a pillow against your chest if you need to cough or sneeze.

5. Practice breathing exercises to help clear mucus from your lungs.

6. Sleep in an upright position for the first few nights.

7. Avoid laying down for extended periods.

8. Don’t lift heavy objects or play sports.

9. Keep your ribcage free from anything that can constrict your breathing like bandages or tight clothes.

10. Stop smoking to prevent coughing and infection.

While most broken ribs heal on their own over time, you should still seek medical attention to avoid complications. Especially if you have difficulty or pain while breathing.

Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today

The possible complications involved with a broken rib are intimidating. Thankfully, the providers at The Orthopedic Clinic are committed to restoring your health and providing the best broken rib treatment possible. Don’t wait to contact us if you need medical care. Contact us today.