A fracture to the ribs is a common sports injury, especially in contact sports. A doctor can mostly do very little about such fractures other than assisting in managing the symptoms while the rib recovers. It is up to the athlete to rest and remain responsible to allow full recovery.
Symptoms of Rib Fracture
Following the direct trauma or motion that lead to the fracture, pain will be noticeable at a point within the ribcage. This is likely to be worsened during deep breathing and also with coughs and sneezes. Often this breathing symptom means that the sufferer will begin to make quick, shallow breaths. They might also be prone to clutching at their chest in an attempt to reduce their pain. The area surrounding the injury can be bruised. If even minimum pressure is applied to the ribcage, pinpointed pain may arise around the fractured rib.
Causes of Rib Fracture
Contact sports carry particularly high risks of rib fractures, and these injuries are regularly caused by a fast and intense blow directly to the chest by an elbow. Other body parts can also cause a hard enough strike, as can bats, sticks or projectiles. Golfers and rowers are also regularly afflicted by rib fractures. Outside of sport, fractured ribs can be brought on as the result of a coughing fit or even from sneezing violently. Some diseases and infections can also lead to fractures; this is known as a pathological fracture. The ribs have occasionally been weakened prior to the injury, due to a bone structure problem such as osteoporosis.
Medical Exam for a Rib FractureAlthough a doctor can usually do little in the way of treatment, it is important to consult a professional in case of complications, and particularly if your breathing is strained. This might involve taking an x-ray. They may prescribe you appropriate pain medication in order to relieve pain and swelling symptoms during the recovery process.
Rest and Rehabilitation after a Rib Fracture
Stay away from strenuous physical exercise and do not partake in contact sports or any other training that could further damage the chest. Resting should be maintained until you are pain free and any other symptoms have also subsided. You must consume fluids frequently to ward off constipation. A few times per day, breathe deeply so that lung infections can be avoided. Heat therapy can be useful for reducing pain and keeping relaxed; heating pads or wet towels are perfect for this, but carefully taking a warm bath can work just as well.
Recovery time depends on the severity of the fracture, but a relatively normal fracture should heal with rest in 1 to 2 months. At this point it is vital to return gradually to your regular activities so that no excessive pressure is put on the rib at too early a stage.