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

Feb 2014
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Answered by

Orthopaedic Surgeon, Joint Replacement
Practicing since : 2004
Answered : 5930 Questions
A little over a year ago, I fell down a flight of stairs and broke 4 ribs. (#9-12) I had a small pneumothorax and was hospitalized 4 days. It took a few months, but I finally felt like I had healed, and resumed my normal lifestyle. Lately however, (the past 4-5 weeks), I have been having A LOT of pain in my mid-back where the ribs broke, as well as in the front- under my right breast. I was in the habit of walking 3 miles a day (it was 5 miles a day before the fall), but I can no longer do this. The pain in my ribs (both front and back) gets so intense that I can hardly breathe. It is to the point that I can barely sit at my desk at work for any length of time, and laying down is a nightmare! I don't think that I re-injured the ribs at any time, so why all the pain, and what can I do to get rid of it?
Posted Sun, 21 Oct 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Saurabh Gupta 1 hour later

Thanks for writing in.

The pain can be due to 2 reasons. It is either a stress fracture ( wherein a stressed bone breaks up easily even with minor trauma) or due to excessive muscle traction over the muscular attachment of rib.
For pain relief, you can take Tablet Motrin 400 mg 1 tablet 3-4 times a day (upto 4 tablets only) and do some hot fomentation (with a electric heating pad or hot water bottle)
The next step ahead is a visit to the GP who can assess the chest and see how much tenderness is present and whether there is any swelling or deformity. You also need a x-ray again.

Once you see your GP, please do let me know the examination findings.

Hope I have answered your query. Let me know if you have any more concerns.

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