The most common cause of fractured ribs is a direct blow to the chest from either the front or the side. Fractured ribs must be examined by a doctor immediately to insure that they have not caused any additional damage to the internal organs that the ribs protect, including the heart and lungs. Once your fractured ribs have been diagnosed, you will have to wait for them to heal. There are several things that you can do to insure that they do so properly and quickly--usually in the span of about 6 weeks.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Ice pack
Take aspirin for the pain. Fractured ribs can be tender and sore. This can inhibit movement and cause you to develop unhealthy postures and breathing habits to deal with the pain. Treating the pain from fractured ribs will help them heal more quickly.
Schedule deep breaths. You must continue to breath normally to avoid infection. Fractured ribs can cause problems long after they heal if you develop the habit of breathing shallowly. It is important to practice breathing deeply for several minutes at least once each hour to insure that you are fully expanding your lungs.
Ice the injured area. You can ice the injured area for up to twenty minutes at a time. This will decrease swelling and help alleviate any pain. It will take your fractured ribs about six weeks to heal, and you can ice them periodically throughout this time.
Get plenty of rest. The best thing to do to heal your body is to give yourself lots of rest. This will give your body energy to heal itself.
Adjust your sleeping habits. Sleeping on your injured side can actually help with the pain and will encourage you to breath more briefly while you are asleep.
Get periodic X-rays. It can be difficult to see a fracture on an x-ray. However, if your fracture is evident, then it can help you track your progress by getting X-rays after about a month to see if the fracture is healing properly. Also, because sometimes even broken ribs do not show on the first round of X-rays, getting additional X-rays can help your doctor insure that nothing was missed in the emergency room.
Be patient. Many people want to start exercising again when the pain in their ribs fades. While it can be OK to start getting cardiovascular exercise, you should avoid lifting weights until a doctor assures you that your ribs are completely healed.
Tips and warnings
- Fractured ribs can be frustrating because there is just not a lot to be done for them while you are waiting to heal. Be patient, and remember that pushing yourself or your body can result in an uneven healing that can be painful for the rest of your life.
- Never treat fractured ribs at home without checking your injuries out with a doctor. Often rib injuries accompany neck or back injuries, which must be treated under medical supervision.