Medical Specialty >> Orthopedics

Doctors Lounge - Orthopedics Answers

Back to Orthopedics Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: Broken Rib???

 Krnoto55 - Fri Mar 12, 2004 7:47 pm

The other day I was sitting in my old wooden desk chair when I dropped a kleenex on the floor. Being lazy that day, I reached down with my left hand to try to reach it. My chest by left breast was leaning heavily against the chair's wooden arm.

I could barely reach the tissue so I stretched further. All of a sudden my body slipped on the wooden chair arm. I head a loud crack come from my chest. I had a sudden pain under my breast, but I did grab the tissue.

Right after than the ribs to the left and back of the left breast has been really tender and painful. If I take a deep breath, or a big yawn I have pain. I don't have pain when I twist my torso though. The first night sleeping was awful, it was extremely painful, and here I am alreay taking 100mcg/hour of fentanyl in my duragesic patch. I tried putting ice on it, but it didn't really work.

Its been a few days now and the pain is still there. Now I cannot reach out with my hand outstrectched because it seems that where my pectoral muscle attaches to my ribcage, there is a lot of pain. I tried cleaning something off the floor with my RIGHT arm and it even hurt quite a bit.

Anyway - I'm wondering if I have a broken rib or broken cartilage? If this pain keeps up, I'll be goign to see my Doctor on Monday.


 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Mon Mar 15, 2004 4:56 pm

User avatar Dear Ken,

Thank you very much for using our website.

If you have one or more broken ribs, the treatment would be pain control unless each of the ribs is broken at 2 different places thus making a piece of the chest wall that has separated from the rest of it (a condition called flail chest). Otherwise treatment mostly relies on pain control to be able to breath comfortably and cough to clear out lung secretions thus preventing lung collapse or pneumonia.

Pain relievers, motrin and the like actually aim at the underlying inflammation that accompanies the fracture and in most of the times can control the pain well. There are other pain relievers of course that are available that are used for people who have stomach problems like ulcers and these are of the celebrex family.

Going to your doctor to be seen if the pain does not improve or develop new symptoms is a very good step so that you make sure that nothing serious is missed.

Once more, thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.
 Krnoto55 - Mon Apr 05, 2004 6:51 pm

Thanks for the welcome.

It was a cracked rib. And really nothing they could do about it. I already take pain meds. The start of the second week was rough - I got the hiccups and every hiccup I had excruiciating pain. I finally had to wrap my arms around my chest to keep it stable until the hiccups went away.

 irish0321 - Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:38 pm

I would like to ask the doctor whether the symptoms I am exhibiting could, possibly, be a broken or bruised rib. I had a rather bad fall, blackening my eye, swollen nose, knee damage, etc., due to my severe osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and Relfex Sympathetic Dystrophy, Type 1, a week or so ago whilst getting up in the middle of the night. Around this time I also developed bronchitis and everytime I coughed the pain under my left rib was unbearable. My doctor chalked it up to my extensive coughing due to my bronchitis, as did I, at the time, but now that my bronchitis has improved and my cough is gone I still have the severe pain and burning (inflammation) under my left ribcage, difficulty breathing, lying down and, generally, even when sedentary. I cannot sleep in any position because of this pain and there is extreme inflammation (very hot to the touch, and internally) at the site. I'm constantly holding this area to protect it (instinctive) and to try and relieve the discomfort. My 19 year old son compared the two ribcages, at the exact points, and when he touches one particular point on the left side I scream with pain, even though I am on Oxycontin for my chronic pain syndrome (RSD-Type 1), fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis and trigeminal neuralgia. Even with the high dosages of Oxycontin, and breakthrough Oxy IR, I am still experiencing excruciating pain. I cannot take ANY NSAIDs, nor any nonsteroidal/steroidal medications, due to past bleedings and my hiatal hernia, Acid Reflux, including IBS-D and diverticulitis. I cannot take Celebrex nor Vioxx because of my varying GI conditions, nor, of course, ibuprofen or ASA and am allergic to aceteminophen (I'm also allergic to morphine and codeine). Does the symptoms I'm relaying to you sound similar to a break/bruise, or any other problem you can think of with your expertise, with my left rib? I am sitting at my computer at this moment in terrible pain and burning and only holding my ribcage helps about 5%. The only time any pain relief is achieved is right after I take my pain meds but soon afterward the pain and inflammation returns. Please provide me with any advice you may have. Thank you.
 cableman - Wed Sep 21, 2005 6:14 pm

Hello, I broke three of my ribs one year ago doing cable work.I worked two months with broken ribs,climbing poles,pulling cable wire a lot of hard work. Went to the doctor and was told that i had three broken ribs.Here it is one year later and i still have pain when i touch the area,it does not hurt when i breath,any help would be grateful. thank you
 Dave UK - Fri Sep 23, 2005 3:38 am

Hello there!

Ive had to post this as a reply because i cant find a "new post" button.

I would greatly appreciate a doctors etc, advice/opinion on my injury.

Yesterday while training i suffered a freak accident where i was momentarily crushed on my side by a training partner (jiu jitsu), said crushing was accompanied by an audible"crack/crunch" noise from my ribs and i felt "something" there strangely though it doesnt really hurt and i can twist to the side etc easily, although it does hurt a little when i move quickly or bend over a certain way etc.

Does this sound like a broken/fractured rib or have i just pulled something/bruised rib?? I would really appreciate any advice as being a professional sportsman this injury could prevent me from earning money which i NEED, therfore i need to be training again asap, as i have a scheduled competition for the 15 oct!! any advice on how to promote recovery etc would also be gratefully recieved.

Many thanks in advance,

Dave M
 MunchkinsDad - Sun Dec 25, 2005 9:40 am

I have been reading this string and I feel as though I broke a rib while lifting. How long does it take to heal and when can I start lifting again?
 gennifer - Fri Jan 27, 2006 5:10 pm

Hi, My name is Jennifer and I am a 21 year old female. I have a past history of a wilms tumor and a horse shoe shaped kidney. I've had my left kidney removed. The reason I'm contacting you is to ask you if its possible that I have a broken rib.

I was playing with my niece last night and than today when I woke up my left side hurts when I take deep breath's in, yawning, coughing anything hurts. I touch it and it hurts to the touch. Its my rib area so I'm wondering if you have any advice?

Please let me know,

 derek - Sun Jan 29, 2006 11:31 am

Hello there Gennifer.

Did you have a fall or perhaps even your neice hit you or you where hit with one of her toys these could have caused a rib fracture. However it could possibly be a strained muscle with all the activity.
let me know please.

 Suzen - Mon Jan 30, 2006 9:52 pm

I am a male, 38 years old, and generally in good health. Late last year I had a herniated disk, due to picking up a heavy object. I went though much treatment to no avail. I went in for microsurgery, so that my nerve could be relieved, and my herniated portion of my disk removed. Upon my home coming, I experienced much pain. The pain which I did not understand is that which radiated around my chest. I told the doctors about this and they just assumed it was the operation, the gallbladder, or swelling. I had severe spasms, trouble moving and pressure upon breathing. It has been 3 months since my operation, and my back and nerve feel much better, however, on my mid section of my rib (under my arm), and around the front chest (following the same rib pattern), I still have sharp pains, and I feel my rib move around (and click) if pressed on. I have trouble lowering my arm when I sit down and, leaning towards that direction when I sit, is unbearable. It is my thought that my rib(s) was broken during the surgery, when pressure was applied to my back. I have paid for x-rays, but my doctor pre-worned me that a break would be hard to see on conventional x-rays. Needless to say, when the x-rays returned the doctor could not see anything. What other methods are the best, to "view" ribs which may have been broken?
 rblomberg - Mon Feb 27, 2006 5:47 pm

I also recently think I broke a rib and am having a hard time getting in to see a doctor. Thanks to this post I have taken some Ibuprofen and it seems to help a little. When the injury occurred I heard a 'crack' noice so I am pretty sure I did in fact break a rib. Hopefully the Ibuprofen hold me over until I can get into for an X-Ray be sure.


 Hopeful110670 - Fri Mar 03, 2006 6:57 pm


I too am in the same situation, however after a CT scan I was told that it was my 10th right rib that was fractured. As you mentioned Suzen, xrays usually do not show a fracture and many doctors are therefore hesitant about ordering one.

When my break initially happened (from coughing when I was 36 weeks pregnant) I had to go to the ER because I was in excrutiating pain. I could not walk, have anyone touch the area, and so forth. I have a high tolerance for pain, and by far, this was the worst pain I have ever felt. They did do an xray, only to rule out any type of puncture, however, they came back and said that they did not believe it was fractured.

I hope this information helps.
 Hopeful110670 - Fri Mar 03, 2006 7:00 pm


I too am in the same situation, however after a CT scan I was told that it was my 10th right rib that was fractured. As you mentioned Suzen, xrays usually do not show a fracture and many doctors are therefore hesitant about ordering one.

When my break initially happened (from coughing when I was 36 weeks pregnant) I had to go to the ER because I was in excrutiating pain. I could not walk, have anyone touch the area, and so forth. I have a high tolerance for pain, and by far, this was the worst pain I have ever felt. They did do an xray, only to rule out any type of puncture, however, they came back and said that they did not believe it was fractured.

My question too long does it take for a fracture to heal. My rib is much better compared to what it was initially. However, every time I lift something, move the wrong way, or do anything lightly strenuous, I usually will hurt it again. Once the pain starts coming back, it hurts to breathe, bend over (is the worst), lay on it, move from my torso, really any type of movement. I would think by now, it would have started to heal more...

Please, if someone could answer our questions, that would be so helpful. Thanks in advance.

I hope this information helps.
 tttucker24 - Sun Apr 05, 2009 1:55 am

It's two in the morning, and I've learned a lot from the posts about broken ribs. I can vouch for how hard it is to sleep with a hurt rib.

I was riding my horse today and he bucked me off. I hit the ground pretty hard and it knocked the wind out of me... hurt too! You know the old adage, if a horse throws you off, get back on. So I did. He bucked me off again. This time my left side hurt badly. I've got all the symptoms I've been reading about. I have a high tolerence for pain, but this is really trying!

I'm 57 years old, and I think I need to get a more gentle horse!

Good luck to you all, I hope we all get better!
 Tom Plamondon PA-C - Mon Apr 06, 2009 5:11 pm

User avatar Hello,
That horse's name isn't Bucky is it.

On a serious note, make sure to take enough pain medication to control the pain. Painful rib injuries can lead to pneumonia. Furthermore, if any difficulty breathing get an xray to make sure the lung isn't damaged.

Take care.
 cvcope - Thu May 21, 2009 1:34 pm

Dear DL Forum: I'm a 61 yo male and have had ~2 episodes per year of chest pain for 25 years now. Whenever I apply any appreciable pushing, pulling or twisting stress to my rib cage, I feel an immediate pain – often with an audible crack or poping sound. The pain is always in the front or side and never near the solar plexus or the back. There seems to be no chronic weakening of specific points, as the pain location varies with each injury (depending on exactly how I ‘tweaked’ my rib cage this time). The pain is not severe, but significantly discomforting and, remarkably, lasts almost exactly 21 days in each instance.

Am I experiencing repetitive broken ribs OR torn cartilage? If you cannot determine, please tell me what other factors need to be described in order to differentiate. Thank you!!!

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us