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What To Do If You Suspect A Rib Injury

by Stella Robinson

Rib bones are connected by bands of muscles, but they are prone to breaks and fractures if they are subjected to blunt force. Let's say that you are an avid football player and one of your teammates tackles you and pins you to the ground. Unlike other occasions, you have difficulty getting up and feel a sharp pain in your chest area. How would you handle this situation to lessen pain and ensure that your injury isn't a serious one that requires medical attention?

Recline Your Body While Applying Ice

Does the pain occur mainly when you breathe in, or do you experience discomfort when you touch the area affected or try to move your torso? Some chest injuries are minor and only involve slight bruising and mild discomfort. When it is difficult to breathe, however, or nearly impossible to move the upper body, a more serious medical condition could be present, and this could involve damage to the ribs, which will require a diagnosis from a medical practitioner.

If you feel normal when you lie still, and your breathing isn't labored, apply ice to your chest and remain in a reclined position. Take it easy for the next few days. You may notice swelling and discoloration in the area where force was applied during the football game. These symptoms will subside with plenty of rest and the passage of time. 

Seek an Exam and Imaging

Moderate or acute chest pain should be addressed quickly. You don't want to take any chances with your health, and since the ribs can puncture surrounding organs if they contain jagged edges and are not aligned properly, a doctor should complete an assessment of your condition. Your exam may include an MRI or CT scan. One of these scans will alert a doctor to the severity of your injury, including if there is damage to other internal body parts.

Take It Easy for the Course of Several Weeks

For rib fractures and breaks, it is imperative that you refrain from moving your upper body as much as possible. Your doctor will probably recommend that you wear non-restrictive clothing that could apply pressure to the rib area. Use oral pain medication to reduce discomfort as needed.

Your breathing should also be closely monitored. Lung infections can occur when there is a rib injury, and this type of infection could lead to pneumonia. It is important to keep your breathing regulated, which can be performed by breathing in deeply and exhaling in entirety. Your doctor will go over this type of breathing with you so that you are aware of how to monitor it. After several weeks, receive a follow-up exam to ensure that your ribs have healed.

Talk to your doctor today to learn more about pain relief treatment.