You risk cracking or breaking one or more of your ribs any time you sustain trauma to your chest. As the Mayo Clinic explains, broken ribs are a common result of motor vehicle accidents, falls and sports injuries.
As you might expect, cracked ribs, while extremely painful. are considerably less dangerous than broken ribs that can seriously damage your internal organs.
Broken rib symptoms
You likely will feel immediate chest pain when you break a rib. This pain worsens under the following circumstances:
- You try to take a deep breath.
- You bend or twist your body.
- You press on your chest.
Broken rib complications
As stated, your broken rib is not, in and of itself, dangerous. In fact, a cracked or broken rib almost always heals on its own within 1-2 months. The danger comes from the damage that the jagged edges or a broken rib can cause. The most likely damage includes one or more of the following:
- Punctured or torn aorta
- Punctured lung
- Punctured spleen
- Punctured kidney
- Punctured liver
Any of these complications can lead to death. In addition, the more ribs you break, the greater the risk of complications.
Broken rib treatment
This is why you should seek immediate medical attention any time you receive a chest injury. Your doctor likely will want to take x-rays of your chest area. If he or she discovers one or more broken ribs, however, there is little he or she can do to treat them directly. Instead, he or she likely will recommend or prescribe a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or naproxen or other pain relievers so you have a better chance of breathing normally and avoiding lung complications such as pneumonia.