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How to sleep with a broken rib

Updated July 20, 2017

If you break a rib, you quickly understand how often you use these bones. They play an important role in breathing, allowing the chest to expand and contract. Getting the right amount of sleep when you have a broken rib is important. Sleep gives your body a chance to heal, and lack of sleep can slow down your recovery. To do this, you need to ease your pain as much as possible.

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  1. The most important consideration for sleeping with a broken rib is making sure your rib cage can fully expand and contract. Doctors once believed that broken ribs needed to be wrapped tightly and kept immobilised. We now know that even though this eases some pain, it can lead to a collapsed lung, pneumonia, or other upper respiratory infection.

  2. You will need some sort of pain medication to ease the pain of the broken rib. Check with your doctor about what will be best for you. Most people are able to take over-the-counter ibuprofen or aspirin, but you doctor can also prescribe something stronger for you if the pain is interfering with your sleep.

  3. Many people prefer sleeping in the position that brings the least pain. For some people, this means lying on the back. However, this may interfere with your rib cage’s ability to open fully. For this reason, if you choose to sleep on your back, do not use pillows to prop yourself up.

  4. As strange as it sounds, most doctors suggest lying on the side with the broken rib. This lets the uninjured side expand as much as it can for deeper breathing. You should be able to still use a pillow to prop your head.

  5. A broken rib is certainly not fun, but it’s not an injury that usually leads to permanent damage. You can find a way to sleep with a broken rib that works for your lifestyle. When in doubt, always ask your doctor about which method is best for you.

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About the Author

An Italian citizen with over 20 years in the Internet business, Gabriella Sannino knows a few things about marketing and communication. Graduating from the University of Texas in the mid '80s, she moved to New York to work for a small advertising agency. While there, she became fascinated with how people were interacting with new the new technology… the Internet.

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