How to spot symptoms of a rib fracture

Written by renae de leon
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Rib fractures can be caused by a number of things, including falls, car accidents and sports collisions. If you have recently been involved in one of these situations and are now concerned about the possibility that you could be injured, use these steps to identify symptoms of a rib fracture.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Look for signs of a fracture. There are several visual symptoms that are linked with rib fractures including: bruising, swelling and protrusions from the rib cage. You will also want to watch your rib cage as you breathe. If one section moves independently of the rest of your rib cage, then chances are you have a serious rib fracture.

  2. 2

    Listen for sounds that indicate that you have a rib fracture. Grating sounds when you breathe or when you move around are telltale signs that you have a rib fracture.

  3. 3

    Feel around for sore spots. Localised tenderness and pain with movement, including breathing, in the chest region are typical signs that you have a rib fracture.

  4. 4

    Identify signs of internal bleeding like swelling, discolouration and bruising of the abdomen. Internal bleeding in the abdomen, especially around the rib cage can be a sign that you have fractured ribs.

Tips and warnings

  • An X-ray is the only sure fire way to diagnose a hidden rib fracture. It is also the most common way to confirm a physical diagnosis of fractured ribs.
  • If you suspect that you have a fractured rib you need to seek medical treatment immediately, as untreated fractures can lead to blood clots and other medical complications.

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