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Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: Very strong blow to chest, pain on right side under arm


 anilyn1 - Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:52 pm

Hello - about 10 days ago I was in the shower and reaching for a towel when my feet slipped out from under me. I landed with my full weight on the right side of my upper torso on the ceramic bathtub ledge with my arms landing outside the tub on the floor. Other than severe pain I didn't have any other physical symtoms so I thought it was maybe a bruised rib. I figured that even if I cracked a rib nothing could be done about it, since I've heard that they don't tape them anymore so I didn't go to the doctor. It continued to be very painful, mainly in the area a few inches below my right armpit and hurts if I cough or breathe very deeply. I never could see a bruise or swelling. I knew that it would take a long time to heal, but the pain has gotten a lot worse the last couple days and I can't find a way to sleep that doesn't hurt. Also, although the area under my right arm still hurts, now my back seems to hurt more. I can't bend or twist my upper body. Is that the normal progression for bruised or cracked ribs while they are healing? Also in the last couple days I have a very low grade fever and feel like I'm getting a cold in my chest. Could that be related? I've been trying to cough up what is in my chest from the cold, but it's pretty painful. (I guess this means I can't go skiing next week!). Thank you very much.
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Mon Jan 26, 2009 10:15 am

User avatar Hello,
I am sorry to hear about your injury.
Yes, broken ribs or sprained rib cage can cause pain when bending or twisting for weeks after the injury.
With suspected rib injury/fracture, it is important to get an xray to see the extent of the damage. Sometimes lungs are punctured (pneumothorax).
Also, it is important to take pain meds (even prescription strength) to help with breathing / pain control. Folks with rib injuries are at risk of some lung collapse (atelectasis) and pneumonia due to not taking deep breaths.
In sum, see a physician for evaluation especially now that you feel a chest cold developing.
Keep in touch and let us know how it turns out.

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