Rib or Chest Injury

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Rib or chest injury

Your injury may be very painful for 4 to 8 weeks. Bruised ribs heal the same way as broken ribs. X-ray examination is not necessary. Strapping ribs was practised in the past, but is now known to
cause more damage and increases the risk of pneumonia.

You should:

  • Keep moving and gently active. Depending on your job, you may need to change your duties or take time off.
  • Take regular painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen (both available from a chemist). Please take according to the manufacturer’s instructions and ask your pharmacist for advice.
  • Do deep breathing exercises for a few minutes every two hours. Fill your lungs with as much air as you can.
  • Cough if you need to. Press firmly on the sore part of your chest if coughing hurts. Regular painkillers will make coughing easier. Poor breathing technique and avoiding coughing increases your risk of a chest infection.

You should avoid:

  • Staying in bed.
  • Smoking
  • Trying to strap up or bind your ribs

Seek medical advice immediately if you:

  • Suddenly become short of breath.
  • Cough up blood or increased phlegm
  • Develop a fever (temperature)

If you are recovering from a chest or rib Injury and are planning on flying or scuba diving in the near future, it’s important to speak with your Emergency Department doctor or your GP. If you have any other problems, please contact your GP.