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Feeling painful to breathe after popping ribs. What is the cure?

Apr 2013
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Answered by

General Surgeon
Practicing since : 2009
Answered : 5614 Questions
I fell about 9 days ago and when I fell I heard/felt one of my ribs pop. It wasn't actually that sore at the time but as the days have progressed the pain has almost increased and for the last 4 days its been really painful. Painful to touch, when I sneeze or cough or breath in deeply.
Posted Tue, 17 Dec 2013 in Lung and Chest disorders
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 14 minutes later
Brief Answer: Hi and welcome to XXXXXXX Detailed Answer: Thanks for the query. This is expected after rib contusion. Probably there was a rib fracture,but even if there is 2 or 3 fractured ribs,most such fractures are treated conservatively by rest,ice compresses, analgesia (nonsteroid painkillers) and muscle relaxants(diazepam). Serious conditions such as pneumothorax or unstable thoracal wall are rare after such injuries. So I dont think that there is need to visit hospital or do xrays. Pain will persist for 2-3 weeks and you should just be patient. Of course,pain is exacerbated by cough,sneezing and deep breathing,but you should try to take few deep breaths every 4 hours and sleep with elevated upper body so that bronchal secretions dont accumulate in lungs which may cause lung infections. Everything else will pass in short time. Wish you good health.Feel free to ask. Regards
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Follow-up: Feeling painful to breathe after popping ribs. What is the cure? 57 minutes later
So it would be totally normal for the pain to be worse after a few days. It is also very sore to sleep on that side and if I roll onto it I then get woken up as its sore. Would it help to put an anti inflammatory cream onto the area?
Answered by Dr. Ivan R. Rommstein 17 minutes later
Brief Answer: Hi Detailed Answer: Yes, it is typical for rib contusions to hurt after few days and this shouldnt worry you. In first 24 hours from injury the hematoma and swelling is still not developed maximally and adrenaline decreases pain sensation. After 2-4 days pain become more expressed especially during rapid thoracal wall movements. You can apply iburofen or similar creams,but also take painkillers per os and low doses of benzodiazepines. Pain should subside in 5-10 days.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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