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What causes breathing diffculty after a rib injury?

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Posted on Fri, 25 Jul 2014
Question: I think that I may have a cracked rib, how would I know this? I fell down a couple of steps a week ago and hit a cement floor, no problems then, now I am having a problem breathing and sleeping on my right side.
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Answered by Dr. Kerry Pottinger (1 hour later)
Brief Answer:
You may have a fractured rib.

Detailed Answer:
Hi,
Thank you for using Healthcare Magic. From the information you have provided, you have sustained a significant injury. You may have fractured one or more ribs. Bruising and swelling over the area and sharp pain on breathing in would suggest one or more fractured ribs. Diagnosis would be confirmed by chest x-ray. Therefore, in view of the length of time you have been suffering, I suggest you go to the ED for further assessment.
In the meantime, continue with Alieve, try adding paracetamol. Try to breathe normally to keep your lungs expanded. When you cough, try supporting the ribs with a pillow. Ice packs to the area may also help.
Whether your ribs are fractured or just bruised, the treatment would be the same and they may take up to six weeks to recover.
I wish you a speedy recovery. If I can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards,
Dr K A Pottinger,
MBChB FRCA
Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Chakravarthy Mazumdar
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Answered by
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Dr. Kerry Pottinger

Pain Medicine & Palliative Care Specialist

Practicing since :1983

Answered : 1337 Questions

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What causes breathing diffculty after a rib injury?

Brief Answer: You may have a fractured rib. Detailed Answer: Hi, Thank you for using Healthcare Magic. From the information you have provided, you have sustained a significant injury. You may have fractured one or more ribs. Bruising and swelling over the area and sharp pain on breathing in would suggest one or more fractured ribs. Diagnosis would be confirmed by chest x-ray. Therefore, in view of the length of time you have been suffering, I suggest you go to the ED for further assessment. In the meantime, continue with Alieve, try adding paracetamol. Try to breathe normally to keep your lungs expanded. When you cough, try supporting the ribs with a pillow. Ice packs to the area may also help. Whether your ribs are fractured or just bruised, the treatment would be the same and they may take up to six weeks to recover. I wish you a speedy recovery. If I can be of any further help, please do not hesitate to contact me. Regards, Dr K A Pottinger, MBChB FRCA