What is the treatment for a cracked or broken rib?What is the treatment for a cracked or broken rib?

Asked on by bjbrown

6 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Usually you will need rest, and to protect the rib. You can tape it, so that it won't move or be vulnerable. Since you cannot put a cast on a broken rib, that is pretty much all you can do. It can be very painful, but it eventually does heal on its own.
lrwilliams's profile pic

lrwilliams | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

As the above posters have all ready stated a cracked rib is very painful and only time will heal it. Ibuprofen for the pain is about all that can be done.

auntlori's profile pic

Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Grin and bear it, unfortunately.  Unless it's going to damage a lung (as indicated by #2), there just isn't much to be done.  About 35 years ago, my younger brother was choking on a Dots candy.  He was not only young, probably 12 or 13, but he was small in stature.  My dad, trying to save his life, did the Heimlich maneuver on him, trying to expel the candy obviously lodged in his trachea.  Dad is 6' 4", 225 pounds, so he did some damage to my brother's ribs.  Everything turned out okay, but there was nothing special to be done for his cracked ribs but rest, pain reliever, and time.  Forward to today, when a student of mine recently got stepped on in a basketball game and cracked a rib.  Same remedy.  In a world of rapid technological and medical advancement, there just doesn't seem to be much beyond time (and pain relievers) to help this kind of injury. 

ako6777's profile pic

ako6777 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Ribs tend to be difficult to break due to the amount of muscle and tissue surrounding them.  This being said, there are many cases of broken and fractured ribs in the emergency room. Broken and fractured ribs are more common in older individuals than in children.  This is due to the more flexible nature of bones in childhood.

When a rib is broken and out of place it is called a displaced rib. Ribs that are broken but still in place are called nondisplaced rib fractures. Signs of a broken or fractured rib are tenderness in the rib area, extreme pain when breathing and crepitus (a crunchy feeling under the skin).

Treatment of broken or fractured ribs has historically been the wrapping of the chest for stability.  In the 1990s a study found that this method was not helpful. The current treatment for a broken or fractures rib is pain medication and time.

besure77's profile pic

besure77 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted on

Cracked or broken ribs are a very common injury that is due to trauma to the chest area. Having a cracked rib is not as serious as a broken rib because broken ribs may have shattered pieces that could puncture internal organs. These more serious injuries would require immediate medical attention and possibly surgery.

Generally, these kinds of injuries heal on their own, although they can be very painful. Pain relievers are often prescribed to help manage the pain if over-the-counter pain relievers are not strong enough. Compression warps used to be utilized in people with cracked or broken ribs but they aren't anymore because these tight wraps prevent people from taking deep breaths which can lead to pneumonia. If the pain is so severe that it is unbearable, a doctor may prescribe nerve blocks which are injections of long term anesthesia around the nerves that supply the ribs.

dano7744's profile pic

dano7744 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Treatment for rib fractures(Fx) depends on the nature of the break and the potential that the fracture may interfere with your breathing. The rib cage lies directly over the lungs and serves as a protective covering over the lungs.

If a rib is broken in such a way that it may puncture a lung, the treatment would be to have thoracic surgery to repair the bone(rib) to prevent this from happening.

If however, the rib is only cracked, and does not pose a potential problem for breathing, then the treatment is minimal and no surgery is required.

In either case treatment includes rest, and analgesia(pain control).  

We’ve answered 320,048 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question