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You can get a bruised rib if you fall or get hit, such as while playing sports. The medical term for a bruise is "contusion." Small blood vessels get torn and leak blood under the skin.
Most people think of a bruise as a black-and-blue area. But bones and muscles can also get bruised. An injury may damage the rib but not cause a bruise that you can see.
Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a rib is bruised or broken. The symptoms may be the same. And a broken bone can't always be seen on an X-ray. But the treatment for a bruised rib is often the same as treatment for a broken one.
An injury to the ribs can cause pain. The pain may be worse when you breathe deeply, cough, or sneeze.
In most cases, a bruised rib will heal on its own. You can take pain medicine while the rib mends. Pain relief allows you to take deep breaths.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:
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Current as of: September 23, 2018
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.
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