When a rib is fractured, how can it be treated?

Expert Answers
dano7744 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The chief concern with fractures of the ribs is the potential of injury to the underlying structures. The rib cage serves as protection to the heart, lungs, and mediastinum. When ribs sustain a fracture the location and severity of the break determine what treatment if any is warranted.

For example, say a rib is only cracked and the person is not having any difficulty breathing. In this case, no treatment is indicated. Alternatively, say a rib high in the thoracic cavity is shattered into many pieces and a piece of the bone has punctured a lung. In this example, definitive treatment is needed because of the difficulty breathing or dyspnea.

Most rib fractures require no treatment and will heal by themselves with time and rest.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When a person has a broken rib it is usually caused by some kind of trauma to the chest such as a fall. Many times when a rib is broken it is just cracked and this does not pose as much as a threat as an actual rib that has broken in two or splintered. Broken ribs usually heal fairly well, although they can be quite uncomfortable. One mistake that some people make when they have a broken rib is that because of the discomfort, they do not breathe normally. It is very important to breathe deeply in order to avoid pneumonia.

A risk involved broken ribs is when they have broken into two or have splintered. When this happens, there is a danger that the rib may cause damage to internal organs or blood vessels.

giorgiana1976 | Student

Rib fracture assessment:

- the affected area will be tapped gently. If one or more ribs are broken, the person will complain of intense pain, at the point of fracture.

- The injured person is asked to cough an if the person feels an acute pain, he/she might experiences a fracture.

- The next signs and symptoms will be searched: deformation or coloring of the area, an easy breathing to minimize the pain, a more alert respiratory rate. The presence of any of these signs may indicate a fractured rib.

Treatment of the fractured rib:

- The movements are reduced in the fractured area using one of these methods:

  • the fractured rib is immobilized with 4-5 pieces of tape, from sternum to spin;,
  • apply an elastic bandage around the entire chest;
  • the arm is immobilized near the fractured area.
  • The wounded is encouraged to cough frequently, to remove secretions that occur in the lung, thus avoiding pneumonia.

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