Healing Broken Ribs

 

Helpful Tips for Healing Broken Ribs


The armor that serves to protect the vital organs within the torso of humans, while sturdy, is not immune to injury, and the process of healing broken ribs is a reminder of how important that protection really is.

 

 


The rib cage


The torso of the human body acts as an armor to protect the very organs that make it possible for us to live, the heart, lungs and major arteries.  Encircling the trunk, the ribs join in the front at the sternum and in the back at the spine; providing complete coverage.  Humans possess 24 rib bones that are long and curved, forming a chest cavity that offers ample room for the lungs to expand and contract within.  This curvature also offers a stronger structure against damage.  The bones perform a valuable function by absorbing and resisting external forces that could potentially and tragically damage the heart, lungs and other organs contained inside the chest cavity.


Rib injury


Despite their strong and resistant nature, rib bones are not impervious to injury.  Suffering a blow to the chest through car accidents, falls, contact sports or other means can result in damage to one or more of the ribs.  Injuries to this area can include bruising, strains, costochondral separation, fractures and flail chest.  It can be inarguably said that one of the most painful and annoying of conditions that can occur is that of broken ribs.


Symptoms of broken ribs


There is one symptom that is associated with ribs that are cracked or broken, but that one symptom can be debilitating.  Pain is experienced with each breath that is taken and with every move or twisting of the body.  The type of trauma that is required to produce this type of injury is often indicative of the condition; however, if pain in the chest is accompanied with a feeling of fullness or squeezing, it is important to seek immediate medical attention as these are signs of a heart attack.  In addition to the nagging pain of the broken rib, there may be a feeling of tenderness or soreness when pressing the area of the trauma.


The most serious case is a condition called flail chest, and occurs when three or more of the ribs break in multiple places, both front and back.  There is often injury to the lungs as well in these cases, which bring rise to the probability of further complications developing.


Treatments for healing broken ribs


Unfortunately, there are few treatments for the majority of broken ribs.  While other bones in the body are able to be stabilized during the healing process, the very structure of the rib cage prevents it from being held stable.  The natural rise and fall of the chest during breathing is essential, therefore stabilizing the ribcage is impossible.  However, the pain created by the ribs can and should be alleviated through over the counter medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.  In some cases, the pain is so severe that the individual is reduced to taking only the shallowest of breaths; an activity that can cause pneumonia.  In these cases where the pain cannot be controlled through OTC medications, your doctor may prescribe a stronger pain medication or even nerve blocks for sustained pain relief.

 


Prevention


The only preventative methods for avoiding the breaking of ribs are careful action.  Avoiding situations that place you at risk for the injury, wearing protective equipment when playing contact sports and wearing your seat belt while driving can lessen although not completely avoid the danger of injury.


Healing broken ribs is a slow process, one that takes time and patience.  The injury, while uncomfortable and inconvenient, is truly a reminder as to how important of a function the ribs perform in protecting our vital organs.