Rib Fracture

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Last Medical Review: March 28, 2020
Medically Reviewed by Dr. David Costa Navarro

A rib fracture means that one or more ribs have cracked or broken off. The most common cause is that you have an accident, such as falling or having a blow to the chest. You may also have a rib fracture if you have a long-term cough.

A broken rib cures by itself, but it can take one to two months. At the place where the bone has healed, a small harmless lump can be formed.


One or more of the following symptoms are common if you have broken a rib or suffered a crack:

  • You are tender over the ribs.
  • It hurts when you breathe deeply, cough, sneeze or laugh.
  • You have trouble sleeping because it hurts when you turn in bed.

You often have the most trouble when it is a week after the injury. After about one to two months, the injury usually heals completely.

When and where should I seek care?

Most people who break a rib do not need to seek care. The pain usually goes away by itself within a couple of weeks.

Contact a health care center if you are so sore that prescription painkillers are not enough. You can contact many receptions by logging in.

If it’s in a hurry

If you have a stroke to the chest and have one or more of the following problems, contact a health care center or an on-call clinic immediately:

  • You are short of breath, dull, cold-sweaty or nauseous.
  • You have cough and severe shortness of breath.

If it is closed at the health center or on-call reception, seek care at an emergency room.

Call telephone number 911 if you want medical advice and help with where to seek care.


If you have a lot of pain, you can try non-prescription painkillers. You can ask for advice at a pharmacy.

You usually do not need treatment for a broken rib because it heals by itself. If, on the other hand, you have broken many ribs in the event of a major accident, you may need surgery to restore the chest.

It is good if you move and avoid lying to bed for an extended period of time.

Influence and participate in your care

You can seek care at any health center or open specialist clinic you want throughout the country. Sometimes referral to the open specialized care is required.

You should understand the information

In order for you to be involved in your care and treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive from the healthcare staff.

You have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you do not speak English. You also have the opportunity to get help from an interpreter if you have a hearing loss.

If you need tools, you should get information about what is available and how to get it.

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