What are the symptoms of a rib fracture?

Both complete and incomplete rib fractures will exhibit similar symptoms, although symptoms are likely to be exacerbated with a complete fracture.

Common symptoms of rib fracture

If you have experienced a rib fracture, you may have symptoms that include:

  • Bruising and/or swelling over the fracture
  • Pain during breathing
  • Severe discomfort or pain

Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, rib fractures can be life threatening, as they may damage internal organs or blood supply. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you are with, sustain a fracture that breaks the skin (compound fracture), or if you experience difficulty breathing.

INTRODUCTION

What is a rib fracture?

A rib fracture is a break in one of the bones that compose the rib cage. Ribs may be fully broken or partially broken (cracked). When a rib is completely broken, the edges of the bones pose a danger of damaging or tearing internal organs, such as the lungs or spleen, as well as blood vessels.... Read more about rib fractureintroduction

CAUSES

What causes a rib fracture?

Rib fractures are typically caused by trauma to the chest. Common causes of such trauma include falls, motor vehicle accidents, or direct blows to the chest, such as you might sustain in a sporting event. It is also possible to develop hairline fractures when constant stress is placed on the bone, such as from continuous or violent coughing.... Read more about rib fracturecauses

TREATMENTS

How is a rib fracture treated?

Treatment for rib fractures will depend on the severity of the fracture. Many rib fractures are incomplete fractures that will heal on their own over time. Pain relieving medications may be necessary to manage your symptoms. While a broken arm can be immobilized in a cast and sling, there is no effective means of immobilizing a fractured rib. If you have an incomplete rib fracture your doctor will most likely suggest a regimen of pain relief medications and limited movement to allow the rib to heal on its own. It is important that you do not tightly tape or wrap... Read more about rib fracturetreatments

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Bones, Joints and Muscles


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