Blows or a fall to the chest is a primary cause of fractured or bruised ribs – severe coughing in rare cases can also be a cause. Bruised ribs are usually painful, but they should improve after three to six weeks. When you injure your ribs, it does not take away the ability to do your daily routine at home. Ribs heal naturally unlike other bones that when broken, they must be supported.
Bruised and broken ribs receive similar treatment; an X-ray is important to determine the nature and the state of the injury. A doctor should advise you if the condition does not improve, worsen or if you were involved in a fatal accident.
It’s painful breathing-in if you suffer from bruised or broken ribs, however, taking shallow breaths feels much better. However, breathing, as usual, is crucial to clear the lungs of mucus to prevent chest infections. You may also experience some tenderness and swelling in your chest accompanied by bruises on the skin.
Take Care of the Injury at Home
There is no harm when it comes to taking care of a broken or bruised rib at home. Have some pain relievers –because the injury will hurt every time you inhale – as the injury continues to heal. If you refrain from breathing or coughing, this only poses the risk of chest infections.
It is advisable to take some over-the-counter pain meds such as ibuprofen and paracetamol following the dosage recommendation as indicated on the packet. Note: children under the age of sixteen years should not take aspirin.
Pressing an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a towel will help to reduce pain and swelling.
Resting is essential; you should, therefore, take some time off work especially if you are involved in a job that demands much physical energy or if the pain is intolerable.
Move from one place to another during the resting period, moving your body especially the shoulders clears the mucus from the lungs and improves breathing.
Hold a pillow against your chest as you cough. Breathing exercises; to keep your lungs fully inflated, take ten slow but deep breaths every hour to achieve clear lungs.
When to Visit a Doctor
Consult a GP if the pain worsens or does not improve within few weeks. The GP may administer stronger painkillers or rather refer you to a hospital for further treatment.
The following are symptom that indicates serious problems hence need to seek immediate medical care:
- A cough covered with blood, yellow or green mucus
- Increased pain in your tummy, chest or shoulder
- If you experience shortness of breath
- Fever (temperature of 38C, 100.4F, and above