Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Broken Rib Overview

Another name for Broken Rib is Rib Fracture.

What is a rib fracture?
A person with a rib fracture has broken one of the ribs that surround the chest. The most common cause of rib fracture is an injury to the chest, which may occur during a motor vehicle accident, assault, sporting event, or a fall. The elderly are more prone to rib fracture than young adults and children.

What are the symptoms of a rib fracture?
The most common symptom of a rib fracture is chest pain, which is worse with movement, breathing, and coughing. Additional symptoms include difficulty breathing, and chest bruising, swelling, or tenderness.

How does the doctor treat a rib fracture?
Treatment for a rib fracture includes rest, cold compresses, deep breathing exercises, narcotic pain medications, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Treatment for severe rib fractures may include oxygen therapy and surgery.

Continue to Broken Rib Incidence

Last Updated: Sep 24, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Broken Rib References
  1. Aihara R, Millham FH, Blansfield J, Hirsch EF. Emergency room thoracotomy for penetrating chest injury: effect of an institutional protocol. J Trauma. 2001 Jun;50(6):1027-30. [11426116]
  2. Ferguson M, Luchette FA. Management of blunt chest injury. Respir Care Clin N Am. 1996 Sep;2(3):449-66. [9390891]
  3. Nagy KK, Krosner SM, Roberts RR, Joseph KT, Smith RF, Barrett J. Determining which patients require evaluation for blunt cardiac injury following blunt chest trauma. World J Surg. 2001 Jan;25(1):108-11. [11213149]
  4. Sartorelli KH, Vane DW. The diagnosis and management of children with blunt injury of the chest. Semin Pediatr Surg. 2004 May;13(2):98-105. [15362279]
  5. Wanek S, Mayberry JC. Blunt thoracic trauma: flail chest, pulmonary contusion, and blast injury. Crit Care Clin. 2004 Jan;20(1):71-81. [14979330]
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