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  #1  
Old 04-09-2007, 12:10 PM
WorkInProgress WorkInProgress is offline
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Can sneezing break a rib?

I sneezed a couple of days ago and the area around my floating ribs on my right side started hurting. It mainly hurts when I cough or sneeze, but also when I bend down to pick up the baby. A pulled muscle seems more likely, but my aunt says that her coworker broke a rib while sneezing. Snopes is inconclusive and Google returned conflicting results.

Anyone know the straight dope?
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  #2  
Old 04-09-2007, 12:13 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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Highly doubtful, unless there is a signficant problem with the rib, such as severe osteoporosis or a tumor eating away at the bone.

One can stretch and tear the muscles between the rib, and even pull away some of the cartilage from the rib, by extreme coughing/sneezing.

In my patient care experience, anyway.
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:14 PM
rhythmonly rhythmonly is offline
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While you may not be able to actually break a rib while sneezing, you can sure as hell have a rib detach itself.

Trust me on this one.
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Old 04-09-2007, 02:42 PM
Sattua Sattua is offline
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A friend of mine was given this exact diagnosis about three weeks ago. He sneezed while sitting in a chair and bending over to pick something up.

We aren't either of us convinced the diagnosis is spot on--his GP is a lazy old fart about ten minutes away from retirement. But that was the diagnosis, anyway.
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Old 04-09-2007, 03:05 PM
WorkInProgress WorkInProgress is offline
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The pain is very much like the time I pulled my hamstring. This leads me to believe that my issue is probably a pulled muscle.

I was just wondering if it was even possible.
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  #6  
Old 04-09-2007, 03:57 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
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I think it possible, but rare.

I've seen a number of people who say they broke their rib coughing. I've seen people with broken ribs who have had severe pain after coughing. I see a lot of people with broken ribs seeking narcotics, some who have pain and some who seem to be exaggerating their pain.

Three layers of muscles hook on to the rib and pulling these muscles is more common than breaking a rib. Rib fractures can be pretty subtle on X-ray, though, and are pretty easily missed.
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  #7  
Old 04-09-2007, 08:32 PM
Rysdad Rysdad is offline
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I did have a broken rib once, and all I can say is that coughing hurt real bad, but sneezing was downright horrible.
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  #8  
Old 04-09-2007, 09:25 PM
Morbo Morbo is offline
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I've broken a few once or twice playing hockey in my youth. Once on the same hit I got a concussion, (the force of the blow breaking my helmet and forcing me to get a root canal on the dead tooth later), separated my shoulder, broke both wrists and broke one rib.

Guess which hurt the most. Not even close. Standing, sitting, walking, breathing...all horrible pain. You'd know it.
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  #9  
Old 04-10-2007, 05:52 AM
Malacandra Malacandra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
I did have a broken rib once, and all I can say is that coughing hurt real bad, but sneezing was downright horrible.
Ditto that. Mrs M ran into the kitchen from another room to see what the trouble was!
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  #10  
Old 04-11-2007, 09:40 AM
slaphead slaphead is offline
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Dunno about sneezing, but coughing can. A newspaper article about some unfortunate chap with TB, who apparently coughed so hard he broke three ribs.
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  #11  
Old 04-11-2007, 11:20 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slaphead
Dunno about sneezing, but coughing can. A newspaper article about some unfortunate chap with TB, who apparently coughed so hard he broke three ribs.
I'd like to see a more credible source before buying the assertion that he broke the ribs coughing.

Sadly, all too often the reporters do not quite get their medical facts straight these days.
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  #12  
Old 04-11-2007, 11:59 AM
Will Repair Will Repair is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhythmonly
...you can ...have a rib detach itself.
Also called a fracture.

Quote:
A break in the cartilage connecting a rib to the breastbone (sternum) may also be called a fractured rib, even though the bone itself is not broken
Qadgop the Mercotan, this may be what happened to the person with TB; does a reporter's broke equal a doctor's fracture?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Rysdad
I did have a broken rib once, and all I can say is that coughing hurt real bad, but sneezing was downright horrible.
Worse even is, after breaking two ribs and a scapula, finally coming home and watching the taped segment of really good comedian.
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  #13  
Old 04-11-2007, 03:44 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Will Repair
Also called a fracture.
Qadgop the Mercotan, this may be what happened to the person with TB; does a reporter's broke equal a doctor's fracture?
I don't call that a fracture, and the standard medical definition of a fracture is a break or rupture in the cortex of a bone.

Separation of bone from cartilage is in fact often described as "requiring twice as much recovery time as a fracture".
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