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Rib Injuries from Trauma


Last Updated on March 24th, 2017
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The ribs are the long curved bones which form the rib cage, and enclose and protect the internal organs such as the lungs and heart and other organs inside the thoracic cavity.They enable the lungs to expand and facilitate breathing within the chest cavity.  As a result, rib injuries can be devastating.

rib injuries

We have 24 ribs, twelve on each side. Both men and women have the same amount of ribs. The ribs are attached to a spine bone in the back. The first seven pairs of ribs join the breastbone in the center of the chest. The front ends of the eight, ninth, and 10th

A direct blow to the chest from a car accident or a slip and fall situation can cause rib injuries such as a rib fracture. Sometime coughing very hard can cause a rib fracture especially in cases where the person’s bones are weak such as osteoporosis or cancer.

If someone has a fractured rib, breathing will be difficult because all the muscles used for breathing pull on the ribs.  Due to the difficulty of breathing deeply, pneumonia is a common secondary affect of rib injuries.

It is very important to seek medical attention if you suspect your rib is fractured. An accident that caused an impact that fractured a rib can also cause injury to the lungs, spleen, blood vessels or other parts of the body. A collapsed lung is a common injury when a rib is fractured or punctured.

Symptoms that you might experience if you have a fractured rib include, mild to severe pain in the injured area, pain when breathing, pain around the fracture if pressure is applied to the breastbone.

You may also feel shortness of breath, anxiousness, restlessness, or you may be scared. You may have a headache, and feel dizzy, tired, or sleepy.

The doctor will conduct a physical exam that will include applying pressure to the chest to find out the location of the injury, watch your breathing and make sure your lungs are working properly, listen to your heart, and check head, neck, and spine to make sure that there are no other injuries.

Unfortunately, rib fractures do not always show up on imaging or x-rays, so the doctor may treat you for a rib fracture anyway just to be safe.

A rib fracture can take up to six weeks to heal. The best treatment is rest, and pain management with aspirin or ibuprofen. It is really important to breath deeply or cough at least once an hour to prevent pneumonia and partial collapse of the lung tissue.

Do not tightly wrap the injury because this will prevent deep breaths increasing the risk for the pneumonia. Sleeping on the injured side will also help with taking those deep breaths. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but it will help.
Only sleep on the injured side, if you have not injured your neck or injured your back which may require lying in other positions.

If you a rib injury due to a car accident, motorcycle accident or slip and fall accident, please call or text the Traub Law Office at 512-246-9191 or complete the form below for more information.

We look forward to helping you.