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Suggest treatment for injured ribs

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Posted on Tue, 23 Sep 2014
Question: I am 68 yr old and in good health. Three days ago, I fell against the bathroom cabinet and think I bruised or cracked ribs. Am very sore between breast and waist from midline to my side. Deep breaths hurt and coughing is out of the picture. Changing position is really tough, but once I get up (or down), the pain eases. Heating pad gives a little relief, but the pain and mobility is getting worse. Am self-medicating with acetaminophen and cyclobenzaprine 10 mg. What else should I be doing? Thanks.
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Answered by Dr. Michelle Gibson James (26 minutes later)
Brief Answer:
use anti inflammatory pain killers

Detailed Answer:
HI, thanks for using healthcare magic

Trauma can result in injury to muscles and other soft tissue or bone.

After trauma the pain tends to get worse days after the injury.

In most cases the injury is limited to the muscles and soft tissues. Pain on inspiration,coughing and exertion imply that there is at least inflammation of the muscles/soft tissues of the chest wall.

If there is a non severe fracture of the ribs , it can potentially be treated at home once there is no injury to the lungs. Lung injury would present with shortness of breath. If this is not present , then you can continue to treat yourself at home.

Treatment:
(1)Add an anti inflammatory pain killer in addition to the paracetamol.

This would help with pain relief and reduce the inflammation associated with the injury.
Eg are naproxen, ibuprofen
One of these, combined with the paracetamol should be taken regularly at the maximum allowed dosing.
Naproxen 500mg twice daily or ibuprofen 400mg every 6 hours along with paracetamol 1g every 6 hours
Can continue muscle relaxant.

If these pain killers are not strong enough , you may need to get a prescription for stronger analgesia from your doctor.

(2)Continue the heat pad. This should be done for 10 to 15 minutes , 2 to 3 times a day

(3)Rest as much as possible.

This is essential.

After injury R.I.C.E is normally the course of treatment depending on the site. R- rest, I- ice, C- compression (bandage), E- elevation.
With the ribs, only rest and ice (would have been useful in initial stages) apply.
No compression or elevation

(4) if you have a cough. Obtain a cough suppressant from your pharmacy to avoid aggravating the injury.

I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Michelle Gibson James

General & Family Physician

Practicing since :2001

Answered : 16811 Questions

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Suggest treatment for injured ribs

Brief Answer: use anti inflammatory pain killers Detailed Answer: HI, thanks for using healthcare magic Trauma can result in injury to muscles and other soft tissue or bone. After trauma the pain tends to get worse days after the injury. In most cases the injury is limited to the muscles and soft tissues. Pain on inspiration,coughing and exertion imply that there is at least inflammation of the muscles/soft tissues of the chest wall. If there is a non severe fracture of the ribs , it can potentially be treated at home once there is no injury to the lungs. Lung injury would present with shortness of breath. If this is not present , then you can continue to treat yourself at home. Treatment: (1)Add an anti inflammatory pain killer in addition to the paracetamol. This would help with pain relief and reduce the inflammation associated with the injury. Eg are naproxen, ibuprofen One of these, combined with the paracetamol should be taken regularly at the maximum allowed dosing. Naproxen 500mg twice daily or ibuprofen 400mg every 6 hours along with paracetamol 1g every 6 hours Can continue muscle relaxant. If these pain killers are not strong enough , you may need to get a prescription for stronger analgesia from your doctor. (2)Continue the heat pad. This should be done for 10 to 15 minutes , 2 to 3 times a day (3)Rest as much as possible. This is essential. After injury R.I.C.E is normally the course of treatment depending on the site. R- rest, I- ice, C- compression (bandage), E- elevation. With the ribs, only rest and ice (would have been useful in initial stages) apply. No compression or elevation (4) if you have a cough. Obtain a cough suppressant from your pharmacy to avoid aggravating the injury. I hope this helps, feel free to ask any other questions