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Bruised Ribs: Symptoms, Causes and Remedies

Updated on November 15, 2012
Human Rib Cage
Human Rib Cage | Source

Bruised Ribs Symptoms

1. Difficult and Painful breathing (especially when breathing deeply).

2. Tenderness on and around the injured area.

3. Nagging sharp pain on and around the injured area.

4. Considerable increase in pain with movement involving the injured area.

5. Visible bruising on and around the injured area.

Diagnosing Bruised Ribs

It is imperative that you consult with a doctor when suffering from a chest injury. A broken rib can easily be mistaken for a bruised rib, so it is best that you have an xray and have a doctor look at you. A bruised rib can complicate and cause respiratory ailments. A broken rib is way more dangerous as it can lead to a pierced lung and severe internal injuries. Again, consult to be absolutely sure about your condition and any possible injuries to your internal organs.

What Causes Bruised Ribs?

Bruised ribs are mainly caused by an injury to the ribs or abdominal area. The most common cause of this injury is trauma or hard impact to the ribs. A hard impact to the ribs causes the ribs to compress and push against the surrounding muscles, causing the bruising.

Bruised ribs are a common injury sustained from contact sports like american football, rubgy, hockey, and soccer. They are also very common in combat sports and martial arts like boxing, muay thai, wrestling, judo, jiu jitsu and mixed martial arts.

Accidents involving high velocity impacts and collisions are also a common cause of bruised ribs. Victims of car accidents, falls, and slips are also susceptible to bruised ribs.

You can get bruised ribs from constant coughing. People who are suffering from respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and pneumonia can bruise their ribs from coughing too much. Incidentally, a bruised rib can cause a respiratory ailment like pneumonia. This happens because of the inability to breath deeply and clear the lungs.

Treatment and Remedies for Bruised Ribs

After you've been properly diagnosed with bruised ribs, you have to take it easy and take time to heal. A bruised rib usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to heal, and could even take longer depending on the severity of the bruising.

During the healing process, you can take some medication to alleviate the pain. A common prescription for painful bruised ribs is ibuprofen. Applying an alternating compress of hot and cold can speed up the healing process and help with the pain. Consciously taking deep breaths can help with the healing and lowers the risk of respiratory ailments while nursing a bruised rib. You should avoid heavy lifting and strenuous physical activities especially early in the healing process. You can slowly go back to light exercises and activities after the pain has considerably lessened. It is best to have yourself cleared by your doctor before returning to normal exercises and physical activities or sports.


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