Most broken ribs heal on their own within six weeks.
It's important to obtain adequate pain relief because if it hurts too much to breathe deeply, you may develop pneumonia. If oral medications don't help enough, your doctor might suggest injections of long-lasting anesthesia around the nerves that supply the ribs.
In the past, doctors would use compression wraps — elastic bandages that you can wrap around your chest — to help splint and immobilize the area. Compression wraps aren't recommended for broken ribs anymore because they can keep you from taking deep breaths, which can increase the risk of pneumonia.
Mar. 04, 2014
- Eiff MP, et al. Fracture Management for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Karlson KA. Initial evaluation and management of rib fractures. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Fractures. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries_poisoning/fractures_dislocations_and_sprains/fractures.html?qt=fractures&alt=sh. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Safran MR, et al. Instructions for Sports Medicine Patients. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 28, 2013.
- What is a heart attack? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
- Preventing falls and related fractures. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Osteoporosis/Fracture/prevent_falls_ff.asp. Accessed Oct. 18, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.