Rib Contusion or Minor Fracture
A rib contusion is a bruise to one or more rib bones. It may cause pain, tenderness, swelling, and a purplish tint to the skin. There may be a sharp pain with each breath. A rib contusion takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to heal. A minor rib fracture or break may cause the same symptoms as a rib contusion. The small crack may not be seen on a regular chest X-ray. Treatment for both problems is the same.
You may use over-the-counter pain medicine to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines.
Rest. Do not lift anything heavy or do any activity that causes pain.
Apply an ice pack over the injured area for 15 to 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours. You should do this for the first 24 to 48 hours. You can make an ice pack by filling a plastic bag that seals at the top with ice cubes and then wrapping it with a thin towel. Continue with ice packs as needed for the relief of pain and swelling.
The first 3 to 4 weeks of healing will be the most painful. If your pain is not under control with the treatment given, call your healthcare provider. Sometimes a stronger pain medicine may be needed. A nerve block can be done in case of severe pain. It will numb the nerve between the ribs.
Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.
If X-rays were taken, you will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.
Call 911 if you have:
Dizziness, weakness or fainting
Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort
New or worsening pain
When to seek medical advice
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or above lasting for 24 to 48 hours