How to Know if You Have Broken Ribs

Broken Ribs Treatment

Broken Ribs Treatment

Everyone knows the significance of our rib cage. The 12 pairs of ribs are not only protecting our heart and lungs, but they also provide support to several muscles in the upper body. This is why breaking a rib will make your day to day activities extremely painful. And, if your ribs are broken so badly they can cause serious damages to your internal organs as well. Given the position of our ribs, broken ribs are generally left to heal by itself. Read the following article to learn how to treat your broken ribs.

broken rib brace

How Can You Tell if You Have a Broken Rib?

You will experience a sharp pain in your chest if you have a broken rib. However, this will be different from the chest pain that is caused by a heart attack. You can say you have gotten a broken rib if:[1]

  • It hurts more when you touch the spot where the rib is broken
  • It hurts more in the chest region when you take deep breaths
  • Pain worsens when you twist the body
  • It hurts while you are  coughing or laughing
  • Bruising is noted
  • Swelling and redness are noted

There are multiple ways ribs can be broken. Some of them include:

  • An accident
  • Punching in the rib cage
  • Contact sports
  • Repeated movements
  • Coughing hard
  • A fall
  • Getting CPR
  • Osteoporosis
  • Cancerous lesions

How are Broken Ribs Diagnosed?

As the first step in diagnosis, the physician will carry out a physical examination during which he/she will press gently on the ribs and listen to the lungs while watching the rib cage move as the patient breathes. In order to confirm the diagnosis, he/she will order one or more of the following tests:[2]

  • X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Bone scan

Rib belt

Things that can be done by yourself:

As mentioned earlier, the ribs will usually heal naturally. It’s because they can’t be splinted or supported like the other bones in our body. They will usually get better within three to six weeks. However, there are a few things that can be done by yourself to help ease pain and also to speed up the healing process. Know what they are:[3]

  • Take painkillers to alleviate the pain. You can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. If you choose ibuprofen, make sure you are taking only after 48 hours of your injury because it may slow down the healing process.
  • You can wear a broken rib brace. These braces will serve as an excellent home treatment option for a broken rib. They help provide support for your ribcage and restore the rib alignment when at the same time preventing any further injury. They will also help ensure optimal blood flow to the injured region and reduce the risks of inflammation, thereby facilitating a faster healing.
  • Try using an ice pack for achieving a quicker relief. Hold the ice pack on the affected area regularly during the first few days of the injury so as to bring down swelling.
  • Rest and take time off duty if you want to. While sleeping, try to be more upright at least for the first few days.
  • Breathe in normal patterns and cough whenever you want to. These things will help clear the mucus from the lungs and will help prevent chest infections. Take ten slow, deep breaths every hour. While coughing, hold a pillow against the chest.
  • Move around and now and then move your shoulders. These will help you breathe normally, thereby clearing mucus from the lungs.

What Can’t  it be Done?

There are a few things that you can’t do if you have a broken rib. You must know what they are:

  • Smoking. Stop smoking to recover faster.
  • Lying down and staying still for a long time. These activities will slow down healing.
  • Straining and lifting heavy objects.
  • Playing sports and doing exercises that worsen the pain.
what not to do for your ribs

Final Pointers:

As mentioned above, a broken rib will resolve within six weeks. All you need to do is to take it easy and follow the mentioned tips. Not only these will help ease your pain but also help with a faster recovery.












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