Broken ribs

    • Brief

    • A broken rib is a break (fracture) of one of the bones in the rib cage. The break may just be a crack or the bone may break in two. When bones break in two, resulting sharp edges pose a serious risk. These can puncture blood vessels or even your lungs. See a healthcare provider immediately after a serious chest injury to check whether any ribs have been broken.

      Broken ribs will usually heal on their own, within a month or two. Your healthcare provider will help you manage the pain and prevent complications.

    • What are the symptoms?

    • You may have a broken rib if you have been in an accident. You may:

      • Feel pain around the fractured area, especially when you touch it.
      • Have sharp pain in your chest area, mainly when you breathe in.
      • Experience bruising, swelling or tenderness around the location of the broken rib.
      • Be unable to lift your arm on the side of your body where the rib is broken.
    • What are the causes?

    • Common causes of broken ribs are:

      • Direct impact from accidents or violence.
      • Sports injuries.
      • Prolonged coughing may break you ribs.
      • Cancer that has spread to the bones may also affect the strength of the ribs.
    • What are the things that put you at risk?

      • If you do physically demanding or dangerous without adequate protection, like roadside mechanics in Nigeria.
      • If you participate in contact sports or do dangerous stunts.
      • Older people, especially women, tend to have more brittle bones and people who take hormonal replacement drugs.
      • If you have cancer that has spread to your bones.
    • When to visit a doctor?

    • You should see a healthcare provider when you sustain a serious chest injury. If you experience pain, tightness in your chest, difficulty breathing or other serious discomforts, you need to go to a healthcare centre immediately.

    • How to prevent?

    • It is very difficult to prevent broken ribs, as they are usually the result of accidents or violence. Wear protective gear when playing contact sports or doing strenuous or dangerous work.

    • How to manage and treat?

    • Broken ribs are not treated at home; you should go to a healthcare centre. In most cases, you will be allowed to go home when the healthcare provider is sure you are not at serious risk.

      You should:

      • Use recommended pain medications as prescribed.
      • Use ice packs on the area to reduce swelling and pain.
      • Rest adequately for the duration advised by your healthcare provider and attend follow-up appointments.
      • Avoid doing any strenuous work or lifting heavy objects.
      • Take deep, slow breaths regularly to prevent pneumonia.

      Your health provider may:

      • Conduct a chest x-ray and other scans to check how badly your rib is broken and also check for organ damage.
      • Perform surgery to repair damage to your lungs, heart, blood vessels or any organs that are damaged by your broken rib.
    • Kulawa cares

    • Breaking a rib can cause a change in your daily routines and limit your activities for days or weeks. Broken ribs usually heal on their own and do not require treatment unless there are other injuries. If the pain in the chest does not go away after a few weeks, see your healthcare provider.