A broken rib is a crack or break in one of the bones of the rib cage. Breathing can be very painful because the muscles used for breathing pull on the rib.
In most cases, a broken rib will heal on its own. You can take pain medicine while the rib mends. Pain relief allows you to take deep breaths. In the past, doctors recommended taping or wrapping broken ribs. This is no longer done because taping makes it hard for you to take deep breaths. You need to take deep breaths at least once an hour to prevent pneumonia or a partial collapse of a lung.
Your rib will heal in about 6 weeks.
You heal best when you take good care of yourself. Eat a variety of healthy foods, and don't smoke.
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: March 21, 2017
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
& Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica, MD - Family Medicine
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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.