How to Treat Broken Ribs at Home

Are you struggling to manage your broken rib pain? You don’t have to suffer silently! In this article, we’ll offer simple tips and remedies to help you address your discomfort and get back to living life.

Quick facts: Treating Broken Ribs At Home

  • ✅ Patients should get plenty of rest and take pain medications as needed to help with the symptoms of broken ribs (Mayo Clinic)
  • ✅ Wrapping the rib area tightly with an elastic bandage can help to relieve pain and stabilize broken ribs (Mayo Clinic)
  • ✅ Over the counter anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended to reduce swelling and pain (Harvard Health)
  • ✅ Taking deep breaths with pursed lips may help ease discomfort from broken ribs (Cleveland Clinic)
  • ✅ Ice packs can be applied for 15 minutes, 3-4 times a day to reduce swelling and pain (Harvard Health)

Recognizing the Symptoms

Broken ribs can be a very serious injury, so it is important to recognize the symptoms as soon as possible. Common symptoms of broken ribs include localized pain, tenderness, swelling, bruising, and difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help right away.

Let’s look at the different ways to treat broken ribs at home:

Pain in the chest

Pain in the chest is one of the primary symptoms of a broken rib. The pain may be quite severe and cause difficulty in breathing, as well as pain when trying to move or cough. This type of chest pain is described as sharp or stabbing, and usually gets worse with movement or deep breaths.

In addition to pain, some cases may also experience swelling in the affected area, as well as discoloration of the skin due to bruising.

It is important to seek medical help right away if you suspect you may have a broken rib, even if the symptoms are mild. Receiving treatment promptly can help prevent further complications such as lung infections or other medical issues.

Pain when breathing

Pain when breathing is one of the most common symptoms of a broken rib. When someone has suffered a rib fracture, they often experience intense pain at the site of injury anytime they take a breath. A deep breath, in particular, can cause severe and sharp pain when it pushes against an injured or displaced rib. Additionally, this pain may radiate to other parts of the body such as the abdomen or back due to referred pain. Even fractured ribs that are treated medically will likely still feel some level of pain when breathing as these bones heal.

To lessen these painful sensations, people with broken ribs should:

  • Avoid taking deep breaths for a few days after their diagnosis and instead focus on shallow breaths instead.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen may also help reduce inflammation and discomfort at the site of injury.

Pain when moving

Pain when moving is one of the most common symptoms of broken ribs. When you have a broken rib, any movement of your torso may cause sharp pains around the area where the rib is fractured. You may also find it difficult to take a deep breath or even cough without feeling intense pain in the chest or rib area.

Other symptoms include:

  • swelling or bruising in the area;
  • difficulty breathing due to increased pressure on your lungs caused by a cracked rib.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away in order to receive proper treatment and avoid further injury.

Diagnosing a Broken Rib

Before attempting any sort of home treatment, it is important to properly diagnose a broken rib. Broken ribs can cause severe pain and discomfort, and the best way to identify a broken rib is through a medical professional.

Generally, a medical professional will order an X-ray to determine whether a rib is broken. Additionally, they will also assess the pain and range of motion to determine the extent of the injury.

Visit a doctor

If you think you may have suffered a broken rib, it is very important to seek medical attention. With the help of your doctor, they can properly diagnose your injury and provide treatment.

When you visit a doctor, they will ask you some questions about your pain and how the injury happened. Afterward, an X-ray will be taken to confirm the diagnosis of a broken rib. In some cases, an MRI or CT scan may be necessary for a more detailed diagnosis.

Your doctor will also check for potential complications from the injury, such as bruising or bleeding around the ribcage caused by internal bleeding. Treatment typically involves:

  • Rest
  • Medication to reduce pain and swelling, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Support devices such as a chest binder may be prescribed to help with healing time.

Take an X-ray

If you suspect you may have a broken rib, it is important to get an X-ray to provide a definitive diagnosis. A trained medical professional can examine the X-ray and detect if any of your ribs are fractured. An X-ray is done in order to locate and evaluate the severity of the fracture. It will also provide information on any other possible damage that might have occurred near the break.

X-rays do not always reveal a fracture when one has occurred, so getting more than one may be necessary. After an X-ray is administered, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you, depending on the severity of the injury.

Treating a Broken Rib

A broken rib is a serious injury and requires professional medical attention. However, there are certain things you can do at home to help relieve the pain and aid in the healing process. Taking the proper steps can help ensure a safe and speedy recovery.

Let’s look at what those steps are:

Take pain medication

If you have broken a rib, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to reduce your discomfort. One of these steps is to take pain medication as needed. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as acetaminophen can help relieve pain and inflammation. However, if your pain is severe, or if your doctor has recommend stronger medication, then you may need to get a prescription from your doctor for stronger pain medications.

It’s important that you follow the instructions provided on the package when taking any kind of OTC or prescribed medications. Additionally, do not take more than the recommended dosage unless directed by a medical professional as higher doses increase the risk of side effects such as nausea and drowsiness.

Apply a cold compress

A cold compress is an important part of treating a broken rib. The cold compress helps to reduce swelling and pain by constricting the blood vessels and slowing the circulation of blood. This can help provide relief from discomfort and make it easier to breathe.

To apply a cold compress, wrap a few ice cubes in a thin towel or cloth and place on the area where you are experiencing pain or discomfort. Make sure to use light pressure, as applying too much pressure can cause further damage. If using ice cubes, leave the compress on for about 20 minutes at a time before taking it off for another 20 minutes. Never apply directly to skin without protection as this can lead to frostbite. Reapply if needed until your symptoms subside or you feel better.

Wear a rib belt

A rib belt is a support device worn around the torso to provide a highly targeted and adjustable level of support for broken or fractured ribs. A rib belt will help keep your injured ribs in the correct alignment while also providing pain relief. It should not be tight enough to interfere with breathing but tight enough to reduce movement of the injured area.

The rib belt should be worn when performing any activities that involve movement such as coughing, bending, stretching, reaching or heavy lifting. If recommended by your doctor, wear the rib belt during sleep too. When you get out of bed in the morning, put it on before getting out of bed and off when going back to bed at night.

Rib belts may be used until your doctor tells you it is okay to stop wearing it.

Home Remedies

Broken ribs can be very painful and require immediate medical attention. Even so, there are some remedies that can be used at home to provide relief for the discomfort caused by a broken rib. Home remedies can be an effective way to reduce symptoms and pain until medical treatment can be sought.

Let’s look at some of the home remedies for broken ribs:

Take a warm bath

Taking a warm bath can be an effective home remedy for healing broken ribs. Initially, the warmth of the water will help relieve any pain caused by the injury. Additionally, the warmth promotes blood flow to the area and can help speed up healing.

To make a warm bath even more beneficial, adding Epsom salts or essential oils like eucalyptus or lavender oil to the water can also help soothe stiffness and swelling. You should also use caution when taking hot baths as too much heat can cause further inflammation and can actually slow down healing. It is advisable to limit taking warm baths no longer than 15 minutes at a time, several times a day.

Massage the area

Massaging the area affected by broken ribs is one of the best home remedies for healing a broken rib. Massage helps to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and reduce muscle tension and spasms. Massage also helps to increase mobility in the area, making it easier to participate in daily activities without debilitating pain.

The massage should be done gently and slowly, starting outside of the injured area then slowly moving inward in circular motions. Applying heat or cold can also be helpful; however, avoid using hot or cold therapy directly over the injury as it may cause further harm. It is important to avoid rough or deep tissue massage as this may aggravate the injury even more.

Practice deep breathing exercises

Deep breathing exercises are one of the most effective home remedies to treat broken ribs. This exercise reduces pain and improves movement of the rib cage while also helping to reduce inflammation.

To start, sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and an abdominal pillow on your lap. Place one hand on your stomach, and take a slow deep breath through your nose while counting to five. As you inhale, focus on expanding your abdomen so that your hand moves outward. Then, release the breath by slowly exhaling through your mouth for five counts as you draw your abdominal muscles inwards. Try repeating this exercise 10 times per day or as needed for symptom relief.

Additionally, using a hot or cold compress can also reduce pain associated with rib fractures at home by providing temporary pain relief.

When to See a Doctor

If you think you may have fractured or broken ribs, it is important to seek medical attention to make sure that your ribs are properly healed and that you are applying the correct treatment. It is not recommended to treat broken ribs at home alone as complications may occur if you do not receive proper care.

This article will discuss when it’s necessary to go to a doctor for a broken rib injury.

Difficulty breathing

Difficulty breathing is a sign of a broken rib, and it needs immediate medical attention. If you suspect you have a broken rib due to difficulty breathing, see your doctor right away.

If one or more ribs are broken, you may find it difficult to take deep breaths or breathe normally due to the pain in your chest area. You may also experience sharp pains that worsen with each breath. If this is the case, seek immediate medical attention – call 911 if needed – as the rib fracture could be life-threatening if left untreated.

Your doctor will conduct a physical exam and take X-rays of your chest to confirm any broken ribs and create a treatment plan to relieve pain and help healing progress quickly:

  • Pain management
  • Rest
  • Breathing exercises
  • Medication

Severe pain

Severe pain is an indication of a broken rib and should not be taken lightly. Severe pain usually means that the rib has fractured and may require further medical attention.

Broken ribs cause sharp, localized pain that can become very intense and make it hard to breathe or move due to the pressure exerted on the chest wall. Severe pain in combination with other symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, or a bulging chest wall should be monitored closely and considered a medical emergency.

If the symptoms persist for more than 24 hours, it is time to consult your doctor about possible treatment options, such as prescription medications and possibly surgery.

Swelling or bruising

If you have broken ribs, you may experience swelling and bruising around your chest or in the middle of your rib cage. Sometimes the swelling can be severe enough to cause an indentation in your skin from pressure due to fluid buildup. Swelling and bruising can take up to a few weeks to heal after the initial injury.

If the pain or swelling does not improve with home treatment or becomes worse, it is important that you seek medical attention right away. Your doctor will likely order imaging tests such as X-rays or CT scans to help diagnose and confirm a broken rib. Treatment options may include:

  • Wearing a rib belt for added support and pain relief
  • Taking pain medicine
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery depending on the severity of the fracture

FAQs about: Treating Broken Ribs At Home

Q: What can I do to treat a broken rib at home?

A: The most important thing you can do to treat a broken rib at home is to rest and avoid any activities that could aggravate the injury, such as lifting heavy objects or engaging in strenuous physical activity. You can also take over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help manage the pain. You should also use a pillow or other supports when you lie down or sit up to further reduce discomfort.

Q: How long does it take for a broken rib to heal?

A: The healing process for a broken rib can take anywhere from four to eight weeks depending on the severity of the injury. It is important to take your time and allow the rib to heal properly to avoid any complications.

Q: When should I see a doctor?

A: You should always see a doctor if you think that you may have broken a rib, as they can provide you with more specific instructions and medical advice. Additionally, if you experience any shortness of breath, chest pain, or difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

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