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Date of last update: 10/01/2017.

Forum Name: Bone trauma and fractures

Question: Rib fracture from coughing

 jacluc - Mon May 07, 2007 5:14 pm

I am a 33 year old female with no serious medical problems. I was recently sick (for about 2 months) with a very bad cough that caused what I can only describe as attacks of coughing in which I was gasping for air. I then began to have terrible pain in my back, right side, and under my right breast. It was painful to move, breath, cough, sneeze, and even to talk. It was painful to the touch. My doctor originally said pleuracy but when the pain continued into the next week he sent me to a pulmonologist who said he believes I may have fractured a rib from coughing so hard. So I went for a rib series and it showed a "deformity" of the 7th rib but they could not say it was definitly a fracture. What other deformity would it actually be or is it most likely a fracture that wasn't picked up well by the x ray? How long does the pain last with a fracture? I am currently taking a pain medication and an anti inflammatory med. Thanks for your help.

 Dr. Chan Lowe - Tue May 08, 2007 8:53 pm

User avatar It isn't particularly common but it is definitely possible to fracture a rib from a severe cough. If the deformity on the x-ray is where your pain is it is quite possible that it is a fracture.

Generally, rib fracture heal well without any particular treatment. The pain meds and anti-inflammatories are likely to help.

If your pain isn't getting any better you should see your doctor again. After about 1-2 weeks, a repeat x-ray will show a bone callous if a fracture is present.

Best wishes.

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