Messed up rib - what can I do?

I fell about seven feet and landed on my chest and hurt my ribs last week. I have an apointment with my doctor on Monday. There are about three spots that are extremely painful. Short of pain killers what can I do to sleep at night, do daily tasks and go down stairs (going up is fine) with a minimum of pain.

I’ve known people with a slight fractures of the ribs and they have, for lack of a better word, wrappings and bindings that keep the chest from moving as much as possible. Of course you do have to breathe. Sometimes if you bind it too much, it feels good but then you have trouble beathing and if you don’t bind it tight enough there’s no relief.

If you have a chair that reclines you might try sleepig in that. I move around a lot when I sleep and if you’re like me, you’re gonna hurt when you wake up, so might want to try a chair to keep you sleeping in one place.

I do not advise my patients with broken ribs to bind them. This impedes breathing deeply and can contribute to developing a secondary pneumonia.

Rib fractures may be quite painful, and in the past I’ve prescribed fairly potent pain relievers and muscle relaxers to deal with more severe cases. If such are not available, I’ve advised patients to alternate medications like ibuprofen and tylenol (in OTC strength and dosage), assuming no problems taking those types of meds.

Shortness of breath, coughing up blood, fevers, and chest pains insufficiently relieved by OTC meds would merit a trip to the ER, rather than waiting for an appointment.

When I was about 12 it became clear that I had pectus excavatum in my left rib cage. It slowly started to become painful, and impeded my breathing, and so I went to a doctor. He said that because it wasn’t such a serious case I should just let my body grow around it.

And that’s what happened. Now I can swim a mile in 30 minutes without any pain from the necessary heavy breathing.

As for sleeping and daily tasks, perhaps yours, too, will eventually grow around any problems, and the pain will subside as mine did.

I don’t know, but if your wife offers you an apple, DON’T EAT IT!

Take analgesia, don’t bind your chest.

If it hurts to breathe or cough you won’t be aerating the bases of your lungs properly, or getting rid of all the stuff that can collect there, and you run the risk of developing a nasty chest infection.

Take painkillers so that you can comfortably breathe deeply and ensure you take 5minutes every hour to take 10 big deep breaths and 5 coughs- put your hand over the sore spot on your chest while you do this to give yourself some support.

If you can’t do that even after taking simple OTC pain meds you need to go to the ER.

Painkillers are there to relieve pain- they are generally a good thing, and when you need them, you need them. This is not the time to try and butch it out.
You don’t have to reach for anything narcotic- try simple things like ibuprofen, diclofenac or acetominophen (paracetamol) first.

Like QtM says- shortness of breath, cough with bloody or green spit, fevers or very bad chest pain are your “go straight to an ER- do not pass go” signals.

Thank you everyone. It does hurt to cough, but no coughing up blood or the like. Yesterday, July 4, I had to go to a concert and I did put a magazine over the sore spots and ace bandaged it in place (sorry QtM and irishgirl I hadn’t seen your no binding messages yet) and used one of my wife’s pain meds. I got through the concert (it was classical and patriotic music so no mosh pit to worry about), but will not bind it this last 24 hours before the doctor’s appointment. And Markxxx, the recliner idea works pretty well, at least until one of my wife’s cats decided my lying in the recliner was an invitation to them to leap upon my chest.

Years ago I broke two ribs in a skiing accident. Doc back then told me not to bind or tape the ribs, and take OTC pain killers. He told me that like all broken bones, it would take six weeks to heal, and it did.

Man, it hurt like hell. Getting in and out of a car was really bad as was sleeping.

Warning: don’t cough, laugh, sneeze or hug your SO. I think sneezing was the wrost.

Grab a hammer and bang yourself squarely on your big toe. Then I promise you wont feel any pain in your rib.

Perhaps an ice bag to the area in question would be soothing. Used carefully (not on bare skin, not for too long at once) it might help and is unlikely to do any harm.

Last winter I fell on ice and cracked one or more ribs. Went to the doc and he said, “Yep, you’ve cracked one or more ribs.” He didn’t want to X-ray because they don’t treat the ribs, really; just painkillers and muscle relaxers and time spent horizontal.

He did X-ray my spine, because the injury felt like it was in my back too, but he tailored the X-ray so narrowly it didn’t shed any light on how many ribs were damaged or how badly (cracked/bruised/broken).

I took 3 days off from work, sandwiched around a weekend. Transitions between standing and lying down just sucked for a while – hot agony trying to lower myself into bed – and I was in lingering pain for a long time (weeks), but I’m groovy now.

Well, some solace there – not a lot, but some.

Thanks everyone. I’m off for the doctor now.