Rib fracture

A rib fracture is a crack or break in one of the bones of the rib cage.

A rib fracture is most often caused by a direct blow to the chest. Other causes include forceful coughing or having thin bones (such as from osteoporosis or cancer).

A rib fracture can be very painful:

  • At the site where the chest was injured (localized pain).
  • With deep breathing.
  • When pressure is applied to the injured area.

The treatment for a rib fracture that does not occur with a more serious injury is usually rest, ice to the area, and medication to relieve pain.

Last Updated: November 10, 2008

Author: Sandy Jocoy, RN

Medical Review: Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine & Deborah A. Penava, BA, MD, FRCSC, MPH - Obstetrics and Gynecology

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