Dr. C’s Journal: Rib Fractures & Cracks

Broken ribs are fairly common, and if you’ve ever had one, you don’t want another. A rib fracture causes lots of pain, which is worse when you take a deep breath, press on the area, or twist your body.

The pain on taking a deep breath creates a catch 22, because taking a deep breath every few minutes is a good idea, if not essential to keep your lungs open and functioning, yet you don’t want to do it because it hurts a lot.

A rib fracture is usually caused buy a direct trauma to the chest from a fall, automobile accident, or sport.

Repetitive minor injury can also cause rib fractures. This can occur when you escalate your exercise to rapidly and stress a bone, like in the foot, or when you have a chronic cough that’s violent and continuous, which could cause a stress rib fracture.

Interestingly, children age 10-12 can stress their chests enough with a heavy backpack to cause a problem where are the ribs meet the breastbone, called the costochondral junction.

Any severe chest pain raises concern for heart disease, and the fact that it is worsened by pressure on a certain area, or by taking a deep breath can be reassuring. The doctor should be contacted depending on the severity of the pain and how certain you are it is related to trauma.

Of course, if the pain in the middle of the chest, feels like pressure or radiates, You would be foolish not to go to emergency room. The treatment for a rib fracture no longer includes taping the chest, but rather continuing to take occasional deep breaths and use medication if needed for pain.

Of course you need a doctor’s diagnosis in order to continue doing this. If the Fracture was due to a fall, you should definitely educate yourself on how to avoid falls in the future. In July 2020, I posted an article on falls that you could access by typing “falls” into the question box.

There are a variety of things you can do to prevent falling: remove clutter in the house, strengthen your muscles, check your eyesight, hearing, proprioception, and balance. There are even programs for teaching the elderly HOW to fall.

Please refer to the mayo clinic article on broken ribs for more detail.

—Dr. C.

Mayo Clinic Article

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