A rib fracture can be very painful because your ribs move when you breathe, cough, and move your upper body. Rib fractures often occur with other chest and organ injuries. So your health care providers will also check to see if you have any other injuries.
Broken (fractured) or bruised ribs are usually caused by a fall or blow to the chest, or occasionally by severe coughing. They can be very painful, but will normally improve within about three to six weeks. If you think you've injured your ribs, you'll often be able to look after yourself at home.
- take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen – avoid taking ibuprofen for 48 hours after your injury as it may slow down healing.
- hold an ice pack (or bag of frozen peas in a tea towel) to the affected ribs regularly in the first few days to bring down swelling.
- rest and take time off work if you need to.
You can treat the symptoms of bruised ribs as outlined above, but the only thing that will really heal them is time. Take about 3-4 weeks to rest before getting back to work. Also remember to breathe as normally as possible. Shallow breaths can increase your risk of pneumonia.
A broken rib is a common injury that occurs when one of the bones in your rib cage breaks or cracks. In most cases, broken ribs usually heal on their own in one or two months. Adequate pain control is important so that you can continue to breathe deeply and avoid lung complications, such as pneumonia.
Most broken ribs take about 6 weeks to heal. While you're on the mend: Take a break from sports to allow yourself to heal without hurting yourself again. Put ice on the area to relieve pain.
The symptoms of rib injuries depend on the type and severity of the injury, but can include:
- Pain at the injury site.
- Pain when the ribcage flexes – with movement, with a deep breath or when you cough, sneeze or laugh.
- Crunching or grinding sounds (crepitus) when the injury site is touched or moved.
Rib cage pain may be sharp, dull, or achy and felt at or below the chest or above the navel on either side. It may occur after an obvious injury or without explanation. Rib cage pain can be due to anything from pulled muscles to a rib fracture.
The amount of pain you feel and how long it may last for will depend on the type of injury you have and how badly you have been hurt. As a rough guide, fractured ribs and sternums take about 4-6 weeks to heal and it is usual to still feel some discomfort after this time. Bruising can take between 2-4 weeks to heal.
Rib fractures can cause serious complications including: bleeding in the chest (hemothorax), collapse of the lung (pneumothorax), or result in a fluid accumulation in the chest (pleural effusion), just to name a few. As well, rib fractures may contribute to the development of a lung infection or pneumonia.
It will usually take 6 to 8 weeks to fully recover from a punctured lung. However, recovery time will depend on the level on injury and what action was required to treat it.
A dislocated rib is an injury where one or more of the ribs are moved from their normal location in the chest cavity. Other symptoms include bruising, swelling, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, and hearing a popping sound when the dislocation occurs.
A common injury when you have a fractured rib is a punctured or collapsed lung (pneumothorax). Flail chest is a serious problem that happens when three or more ribs are broken in more than one place. If you have flail chest, the broken area can't hold its shape when you take a breath.
How long does it usually take for a rib to heal? That is, the patient will say, "I'm having pain." What is it, two weeks, three weeks, six weeks? Dr. Varghese: It's usually, generally bone healing takes about four to six weeks.
You'll be given advice by your doctor about how much you should move your leg and when you can put weight on it. It takes around 6 to 8 weeks for a minor fracture to heal. You'll probably need to use crutches or a wheelchair during this time, until it's possible to put weight on the leg again.
The ribs partially enclose and protect the chest cavity, where many vital organs (including the heart and the lungs) are located. The rib cage is collectively made up of long, curved individual bones with joint-connections to the spinal vertebrae.
Intercostal muscles are several groups of muscles that run between the ribs, and help form and move the chest wall. The intercostal muscles are mainly involved in the mechanical aspect of breathing. These muscles help expand and shrink the size of the chest cavity to facilitate breathing.
Broken bones heal at different rates, depending on the age of the child and the type of fracture. Certain fractures in young kids can heal as quickly as 3 weeks, while it may take as long as 6 weeks for the same kind of fracture to heal in teens. And some fractures can take as long as 10 weeks to heal.