Not only can a broken rib cause pain and discomfort, but a lack of medical treatment can result in additional problems in the future. This is why you need immediate treatment should you have reason to believe you're dealing with this injury.
The most common symptoms of a broken rib include:
- Pain when you touch the rib
- Chest discomfort, especially when breathing deeply
- Worsening pain when you turn your body
- Pain when you laugh or cough
Fortunately, diagnosing a broken or injured rib is simple. Your doctor can use the following tests to see what's going on:
- CT scan
- Bone scan
If your medical team confirms that you have a broken rib, you'll discuss your treatment options. This typically includes:
- A break from all physical activity
- Ice therapy
- The regular use of pain medication
- Deep breathing therapy to prevent pneumonia
While not always the case, a broken rib generally heals in six weeks.
In the event of a more serious injury, such as a broken rib that has injured your lung, it's possible that surgery may be required. This is why it's critical to work closely with your medical team after suffering a rib injury.
If you were injured on the job, report the incident to your employer. Also, share your diagnosis and prognosis, so they have a clear idea of what you're up against.
Since it's important to avoid aggravating your injury, you may not be able to return to work right away. In this case, filing a claim for workers' compensation benefits is often the next step to take.