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Severe rib pain. Had fractured clavicle in neck & rib under arm recently. How long will this pain remain?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2000
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I fractured my left clavicle c6 in neck (never hurt at all) and a rib under my left arm six weeks ago. My rib didn't bother me till recently, my clavicle doesn't hurt much now but my rib is killing me!! Can't lay in bed at all!! Six weeks post trauma and hurts like hell. How long will this pain last and why didn't it hurt like this earlier ?.
Posted Thu, 14 Jun 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 4 hours later
Thanks for posting your query.

Sorry to hear about your ordeal. Initially I suppose you must have taken medicines to allay pain, but now if you have discontinued those you are bound to have little pain. By 6 to 8 weeks the healing of bones is on way, but if you have excruciating pain there is something wrong.

The reason for that could be either non healing or delayed healing of rib, or the rib rubbing against your lungs. If its rubbing on lungs you will get pain on XXXXXXX breathing or coughing. If the fracture is not uniting it will be evident on x rays. Besides there are several nerve endings that usually hurt when a fracture heals.

In any case visit your orthopaedician and get it examined. Meanwhile use a chest binder that restricts your chest movement while breathing, use hot fomentation locally, mild pain killers and avoid sleeping on left side. Keep your chest warm and covered and avoid tight clothing.

I hope this was informative. For any further queries I'm available for follow up.
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Follow-up: Severe rib pain. Had fractured clavicle in neck & rib under arm recently. How long will this pain remain? 37 minutes later
Thank you. It does not hurt when I breath. But when I try to sleep and move around oweeee!! I haven't slept more than four hours a night in over a week and I am exhausted. Mt orthopedic dr just says ribs are tuff and only X-rays my broken clavicle. My ribs seem not to even be addressed yet they are ruining my life. What the heck!! I am getting so frustrated as both my drs don't seem to bother about my rib pain. I don't know what to do for relief and sleep. Will these nerve endi g cause permanent pain ?? If so I believe I cannot take it !! Will soaking in warm bath help befor bed ??

Thanks so much for at least giving me some hope.

Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 56 minutes later
Thanks for writing back.

For some reason I believe your doctor when he says ribs are strong. They have tremendous capacity to heal without any major intervention. The only drawback is the associated pain. Let me reassure you that this is temporary and soon you wont notice even slightest discomfort. This will take more 3 to 6 weeks.

Till then you may follow my previous instructions. A hot bath or just a hot water douche bag shall help, and be careful not to use extremely hot water.

Good luck.
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