Rib fracture is one of a very serious and painful condition. Fracture of a rib is very less likely to occur unless there is direct trauma or compression to it. Common causes of rib fracture are fall from a vehicle or road traffic accident, sometimes during cardiopulmonary resuscitation if too much force is applied, sports injury and very rarely from osteoporosis and metastasis due to carcinoma. A broken rib is equally painful and dangerous as it can damage the underlying internal organs which could further lead to disastrous consequences. Fractured rib presents with painful respiration that could be extremely severe to the point of being unbearable.
A fractured rib can easily be diagnosed with history taking and clinical examination of the patient. Apart from clinical check-up, diagnostic approach relies on radiological screening. X-RAYS are the most used technique to detect a breach in the continuity of bones. But in case of rib fracture, x-rays might not be that reliable as it is very hard to detect the fresh rib fracture. Other imaging modalities for detecting rib fracture include CT scan, MRI and bone scan. CT scan and MRI can both detect the rib fracture as well as soft tissue injury if it is there.
Fractured ribs usually do not need any treatment unless there is any complication such as flail chest. In case of simple rib fracture, patient can heal on its own within a period of 06 to 08 weeks. Patient just needs to restrict activities and get extra rest in order to heal fast. Icing or cold compression is a potential way to relieve pain. Over the counter drugs for pain relief such as naproxen, ibuprofen must be taken for pain but if it is too severe, then the doctor may prescribe a potentially stronger drug.
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