A broken rib is a common injury that occurs when one of the bones in your rib cage breaks or cracks. The most common cause is chest trauma, such as from a fall, motor vehicle accident or impact during contact sports.
Many broken ribs are merely cracked. While still painful, cracked ribs aren’t as potentially dangerous as ribs that have been broken into separate pieces. A jagged edge of a broken bone can damage major blood vessels or internal organs, such as the lung.
In most cases, broken ribs usually heal on their own in one or two months. Adequate pain control is important so that you can continue to breathe deeply and avoid lung complications, such as pneumonia.
The pain associated with a broken rib usually occurs or worsens when you:
1. Take a deep breath
2. Press on the injured area
3. Bend or twist your body
See your doctor if you have a very tender spot in your rib area that occurs after a trauma or if you have difficulty breathing or pain with deep breathing.