Bruised Ribs: Causes and Treatments

Human beings have 24 ribs, twelve on each side of the chest, that protect internal organs in the chest and help in the process of breathing. Seven pairs of ribs are attached to the breastbone, while the rest do not reach it. The ribs may be bruised, broken, or separated from the breastbone when a direct blow or chest trauma occurs. Bruised ribs can cause extreme pain, but in most cases, they will completely heal.

Causes of Bruised Ribs

A bruise or a contusion can occur on the ribs, just like other parts of the body. There are many causes under that. 

Chest pain coming from bruised ribs can be very painful and may take some time to heal. It is important to identify the cause to help your doctor plan the treatment for you and to apply the necessary care to your injury.

Symptoms and Complications of Bruised Ribs

The accompanied symptoms include the following:

Complications may occur because of rib injury, such as pneumonia and lung infection. These occur because the normal mechanism of breathing is altered, preventing the lung from fully expanded. If a rib is fractured, the sharp ends of the bone could puncture the lung. This is a serious condition, and it should be considered an emergency.

Treatments for Bruised Ribs

Medical Treatment

The immediate treatment is to take a complete rest and reduce one's activities. Other ways to help heal rib bruises include:

It may take three to four weeks for bruised ribs to heal. However, severe injuries may take a lot longer to heal, extending up to about ten weeks. Consult a doctor if you experience the symptoms mentioned to avoid complication and delayed healing.

Home remedies: dos & don'ts

When to see a doctor

See a doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms with bruised ribs:

These symptoms may be associated with a chest or lung infection, a broken rib, or a collapsed lung (pneumothorax). Pain medications will be prescribed by the doctor, but you will be sent to a hospital if you need further treatment. Diagnostic examinations may be done to rule out or confirm if there is any internal damage, including chest x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan. A specialist in cardiothoracic surgery may be called for further treatment if needed.

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