A rib fracture, also called a broken rib, is a relatively common injury caused by blunt trauma to the torso. The most common causes include motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and work-related injuries. Rib fractures vary in severity, and not everyone experiences symptoms in the same way. Learning more about this specific injury and the treatments available to you is important for your recovery.
What is a Rib Fracture?
A rib fracture occurs when one or more of the various bones that make up your ribcage cracks or breaks. Some people experience very minor fractures – such as a tiny crack in a single rib – that require very little intervention and heal quickly on their own. Others, however, experience very serious breaks in numerous ribs, and because the ribs are near many vital organs, such injuries can be quite traumatic and even life threatening if not immediately diagnosed and properly treated.
How to Know if You Have a Rib Fracture?
The symptoms associated with a rib fracture include pain and tenderness that worsens whenever you bend over or twist your torso, apply pressure to the injured area, or take a deep breath. The best way to diagnose a fractured rib involves seeing a doctor for an X-ray. Not only does the X-ray confirm the fracture, but it can also help the doctor see the severity of the fracture and create an appropriate treatment plan.
How to Treat a Rib Fracture
Hairline fractures require little to no medical intervention and will often heal on their own, but you should still see a physician. He or she can provide you with time off work to heal as well as provide you with pain medications if over-the-counter pain relievers are not enough. You can also apply ice to the affected area if your doctor advises you to do so. For more serious injuries, you may need surgery. In some cases, broken bones can pierce your lung, or pieces of bone may float freely in your chest cavity. Because this can be life threatening, it is crucial that you seek the appropriate treatment immediately after you are injured.
If you have been in a car accident, an accident at work, or even been injured while playing sports and you experience any of the symptoms of a rib fracture, it is important that you see a physician right away. The sooner you can receive a diagnosis, the sooner you can start to heal, and the sooner you can get back to doing the things you love to do.