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Date of last update: 10/19/2017.

Forum Name: Pneumonia

Question: Fractured rib while having Pneumonia

 intern4cc - Fri Jun 26, 2009 12:19 pm

I was diagnosed with two spots of pneumonia in my right lung almost two weeks ago. I was on Amoxicillin-clavulanate for 10 days, I went back in for more x-rays and was told it is getting better but is still there (was put on Azithromycin, due to allergic reaction to first one). The day I went in for the second round of x-rays I discovered a mild to medium pain in my lower left rib area. The pain is much worse when coughing occurs and movement in the area can be felt when coughing. Today, 2 days after the pain first occurred, the pain is much worse and very sharp. I am not aware of any injury to the area other than coughing. Could I have fractured a rib(s)? And/or what should I do now?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:33 am

User avatar Hi there --

While coughing due to pneumonia and other cough-producing pulmonary problems often can cause a cracked rib, more often the pain and discomfort is due to either muscle strain or costochondritis (inflammation of the connective tissue between the ribs) and in either case the cause, significance, symptoms and treatment are pretty much the same: first choice therapy is non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain medication (NSAIDs) which are generally available over the counter (Advil, Aleve). There's not much to be done for any of the possible causes of rib, cartilege or muscle irritation besides this and sometimes application of moist heat locally.

In no case is this something to be overly concerned about, but it should be evaluated to make certain the pain is, in fact, from ortho-muscular stress and not directly attributable to pneumonitis percolating in the lung (although the latter is usually a rather dull, achey pain rather than what you describe). Assuming the pneumonia has been managed, the pain is almost certainly due to irritation and will resolve with time, but more quickly with help from NSAIDs.

I hope this is helpful to you. Good luck and please follow up here as necessary.

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