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Have had fracture in ribs. Why am I feeling pain and hard to breath?

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Spine Surgeon
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 322 Questions
Hi. Last year I fell down a flight of stairs in the middle of the night, and broke 4 ribs. (#9-12). I thought they had healed, but this past month, they have really been hurting me - both in my back where they broke, and also in the front under my right breast. I had been walking 3 miles every day for exercise, but I can no longer walk because the pain becomes so bad. It makes it very hard to breathe. I don't think I reinjured them, but why all this pain? It is to the point that even sitting at my desk at work becomes painful. I am a 53 year old woman.
Posted Sun, 21 Oct 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Rahul D Chaudhari 5 hours later
Thanks for writing to us.
Usually rib fracture should have healed by this time. Sometimes it is very annoying with prolonged recovery. Pain could be arising from non union of the fracture ( when the bones fail to unite) however in that you should have constant pain at the fracture site right from the date of the fracture with no in between pain free period. Otherwise it could be a simple muscle pain.
In either case, I would like to know if there is a specific point which hurts a lot on touching?
If it is then, you can try a pain block at that site. Also try one course of anti-inflammatory with muscle relaxant with local gel application, that should help. You can take Tablet Motrin 1 tablet as and when required with food (upto 4 tablets daily). also, apply some diclofenac gel locally.
If you want to know about the fracture status then you need to get a CT scan of the chest. X-ray won't help much in detecting any non union.
Let me know if you have any more questions
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