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How to Treat Rib Injuries

Rib injuries include bruises, cartilage tears and  fractures. Older people are more prone to rib fractures due to osteoporosis, or age related bone thinning. Stress fractures of the ribs and strain of the intercostal muscles are more common in rowers.
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Common causes of rib injury:

  • Motor vehicle accidents – chest impact against the steering wheel
  • Sports injuries – tackles and other forceful impacts
  • Falls, especially from a height
  • Crush injuries – heavy object falling on the chest

Symptoms: depending on type of injury can include:

  • Pain at the location of the injury
  • Pain with movement, breathing, coughing or sneezing
  • A grinding noise when the injured rib is moved
  • Muscle spasms of the ribcage
  • Difficulty breathing due to pain
    The ribs enclose vital organs such as the heart and lungs, so chest trauma can cause life-threatening injuries. These can include a punctured lung, heart or aortic injury or a ruptured spleen. These are  medical emergencies.

Treatment: Typically  rib and chest  injuries are painful because of movement during breathing. Treatment aims to relieve pain while the injury heals.

  • Rest to avoid making the pain worse.
  • Ice packs for first 48 hours can help reduce pain and swelling. Apply for 15 minutes every 2 hours.
  • Wearing a rib belt – male or female, or taping helps to support and immobilise the ribs, reducing painful movement.
  • Injurease with Arnica can be applied to the skin as a cream, and should also be taken internally as oral spray or chewable pills. This natural remedy helps to boost healing, repair bruising and tissue damage and reduce inflammation.
  • Prescription strength pain-killing drugs may be needed in the early stages.