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Suggest treatment for pain in ribs

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Posted on Thu, 11 Feb 2016
Question: I fractured rib #10 on my left side about three weeks ago. It's still pretty painful. Can sleeping on the right side of my body and rolling out if bed do damage to the left rib and its healing process? I can sleep relatively pain free on my right side but am concerned that doing so or rolling over to get out of bed might make it worse.
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Answered by Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (2 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Yes, rolling over to get out of the bed can actually move the fracture.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for your question on Health Care Magic.
I can understand your concern.
Yes, rolling over to get out of the bed can actually move the fractured segments and cause delayed healing.
Sleeping in right side can not cause any damage to fractured segments.
So to prevent this, better to wear chest belt (rib belt) to prevent this mobilization of fractured segments while rolling over from bed.
Also apply warm water pad on affected areas.
Avoid movements causing pain. Avoid heavyweight lifting and strenuous exercise. Avoid bad postures in sleep.
Take painkiller and muscle relaxant drugs.
Usual time for healing is 4-6 weeks. So you need to follow all these for 3 months more.
Don't worry, you will be alright.
Hope I have solved your query. I will be happy to help you further. Wish you good health. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (3 hours later)
Thank you. I think that the fracture might have moved, I was feeling better, but after sleeping in bed, and rolling over all the time, I now feel worse. Another issue is this, I am 315 lbs, I have painful arthritis in both knees so when getting out of a chair, or off the toilet, I usually have to push myself up with my arms, (basically lifting my body weight with my arms), does that hurt the rib and healing process and if so, what else can I do? You said no lifting, does the pushing/pulling movement of cleaning heavy snow off my car also hurt my rib? Should I address the issue of being in more pain with my doctor, I know there isn't much that can be done for the ribs. Thank you
XXXXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
Yes, all these can hurt the ribs and disturb healing process.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for your follow up question on Health Care Magic.
I can understand your concern.
Yes, all those activities can cause mobilization of fractured segments and this in turn cause delay in healing.
So better to avoid all those activities especially cleaning the car.
Also wear chest belt (rib belt). This will prevent mobilization of fractured segments.
And yes, you are right, we can not do much for rib fractures, rest and immobilization of fractured segments are the best treatment for healing.
Hope I have solved your query.
If you are not having further queries, then please close the conversation and rate my answer.
You can ask me directly on bit.ly/askdrkaushalbhavsar.
Wish you good health. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Follow up: Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (12 hours later)
I went to see a doctor today and he told me that I didn't have to be careful about physical activity and that cleaning snow off my car and getting out of bed as I do, is OK (the opposite of what you told me), but your response made more sense. Now I am even more confused as to what is right and what is wrong regarding physical activity and healing. The doctor also said healing takes about 4 - 6 weeks but when I pointed out that it has been almost 7 weeks and I am still in pain, he didn't seem to have an answer. I just don't know who to believe. I just want to do the right thing to heal the rib and not make them worse, but I can't find out what that is. I have done endless reading about this, but am still confused. I just don't understand why after 7 weeks of healing, I am in more pain than I was at the time of injury. I guess time will tell.
XXXXXXX
doctor
Answered by Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar (6 hours later)
Brief Answer:
Sorry to say but I have a different opinion than your treating doctor.

Detailed Answer:
Thanks for your follow up question on Health Care Magic.
I can understand your concern.
Sorry to say but I am of a different opinion than your treating doctor.
Best treatment of rib fracture is rest. Rest is needed so that fractured segments can align and unite together.
When these segments are not aligned, they tend to move with chest mobility and they cause pain.
So pain in rib fracture suggest that segments are still not United.
So in my opinion, mobilization should be avoided to fasten the healing.
And for this you should avoid all activities or you can carry activities with rib belt on.
Please let me know
1. Did your doctor advise you about wearing a rib belt?
2. Are you taking any drugs at present?
3. Have you checked for calcium and vitamin D 3 levels?
Please reply for the above asked questions, so that I can guide you better. I will be happy to help you further. Wish you good health. Thanks.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Sonia Raina
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Dr. Kaushal Bhavsar

Pulmonologist

Practicing since :2008

Answered : 14949 Questions

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Suggest treatment for pain in ribs

Brief Answer: Yes, rolling over to get out of the bed can actually move the fracture. Detailed Answer: Thanks for your question on Health Care Magic. I can understand your concern. Yes, rolling over to get out of the bed can actually move the fractured segments and cause delayed healing. Sleeping in right side can not cause any damage to fractured segments. So to prevent this, better to wear chest belt (rib belt) to prevent this mobilization of fractured segments while rolling over from bed. Also apply warm water pad on affected areas. Avoid movements causing pain. Avoid heavyweight lifting and strenuous exercise. Avoid bad postures in sleep. Take painkiller and muscle relaxant drugs. Usual time for healing is 4-6 weeks. So you need to follow all these for 3 months more. Don't worry, you will be alright. Hope I have solved your query. I will be happy to help you further. Wish you good health. Thanks.