It is irrefutable that each part of our body, internally and externally, comes with a purpose and function. The ribcage is among the essential internal sections of the anatomy. These flat bones come in twenty-four (24) chops, which are twelve (12) pairs of ribs.
And they exist because they play a critical role in the most sensitive or delicate major parts of the body system. So, what is the function of the ribs?
Why is Rib Cage Important to Your Body
It acts as a protector to the heart and lungs. Other than that, the ribs provide support to several muscles in the upper part of the body. That is why, when a rib gets broken, it makes daily activities extremely excruciating.
Intricately positioned in the body, the rib cage can self-recuperate when broken. Hence, broken ribs generally heal and recover on their own accordingly.
What Can Cause a Broken Rib
Due to the intensity and criticality of the role that the ribs play, they can withstand a lot of impacts. However, when they get an abrupt and severe blow, both the chest and back, it can fracture it.
There’s a handful of causes that can break a rib, and some of them are listed below.
- Hard falls
- Car accidents
- Domestic Abuse
- Contact Sports
Football, soccer, ruby, and other aggressive bodily contact sports are among the few causes of broken ribs. Repetitive actions can also take a serious toll on the rib cage and muscles.
Who is Prone to Broken Ribs
Athletes are usually the common victims of broken ribs due to the severity of their sports or games. They usually play contact sports that engage in recurring repetitive motions involving the upper back part and the chest.
Other people who are prone to getting fractured ribs are as follows:
- Cancerous rib lesion patients
- People with bone diseases like those who have osteoporosis
Yet again, not everyone is safe from broken ribs because anyone is prone to accidents or injuries. Thus, utmost care is a must.
How Would You Know You have Broken Ribs
What are the symptoms that you should watch out to know if you have fractured ribs? One of the most common and persistent signs is chest pain every time you take a breath. So, when you have a fall or big blow to your back or chest, and then, it hurts every time you inhale deeply, it is a symptom of broken ribs.
Other symptoms include sneezing, laughing, and coughing. While you’re doing any of the three mentioned things, and you suddenly feel a sharp, shooting pain your chest, your ribs might be fractured.
The location of the fissure or fracture varies and so, are the symptoms. You can also feel sudden, sharp pains when you try to bend over or twist your upper body. That said, pressing or striking the broken part will hurt for a minimum of a couple or more weeks.
Redness and swelling around the fractured area are also another set of symptoms. A bruise on the skin close to the impacted location may signify too that you might have broken ribs.
How Broken Ribs Get Diagnosed
Broken ribs are hard to spot because they are inside your chest, unlike fractured arms or toes. So, when you feel the symptoms mentioned above, you should visit the nearest physician in the area.
The doctor will order for imaging tests that may use an X-ray and a CT scan on the chest as well as a bone scan. A chest MRI scan order may push through to determine for any injury on the soft tissue or muscle.
What Do Doctors Do For Broken Ribs
In recent years, the treatment for fractured ribs has drastically and significantly changed. Previously, doctors wrapped the torso tightly to keep the impacted ribs from moving. Yet, this former method restricts the injured patient’s breathing, which most often leads to respiratory constraints, such as pneumonia.
For this reason, doctors now allow the healing of the broken ribs on their own. Supportive bondages are no longer in practice by many. On the other hand, the doctor might give a prescription to alleviate the pain.
During the first few days after getting a fractured rib, the doctor injects anesthesia to help numb the nerves directly around the location of the impacted rib. Applying ice packs to the affected area lessens the pain as well as reducing the swelling. You have to wrap the ice pack first with a thin towel before you apply it.
Nevertheless, doctors may recommend surgery when the rib fracture is critical. Usually, difficulty in breathing requires an operation. Plates and screws may be used by surgeons to stabilize the rib cage while they’re healing.
Can Complications Occur with a Broken Rib
Broken ribs can cause complications. The two essential organs that are susceptibly at risk are the heart and the lungs, as the rib cage protects them both. And depending on which ribs are fractured and the injury’s severity, complications vary.
· Top 5 Complications to Occur with Broken Ribs
Here are the top five (5) of the most common complications that may occur when you have broken ribs. These are the prevailing immensely critical problems that can happen with a fractured rib cage.
1. Damaging the Aorta
The aorta gets damaged when the fractured parts are among the three top ribs.
2. Other Blood Vessels Risk
The blood vessels that are in or within the area of the heart are also prone to risk.
3. Punctured Lung
When the break is in one of the middle ribs, it may cause a protruding bone edge to get through the lung, puncturing it, in return.
4. Collapsed Lung
Once the lung gets punctured by the bone edge spike, the lung may potentially collapse.
5. Punctured Spleen, Liver, or Kidney
When the fractured part is in the lower ribs, it can cut or pierce the spleen, liver, or kidney.
Nonetheless, these types of complications are possible and common if there are multiple broken ribs. That is why it is with utmost importance to consult with a physician.
Overall, when you feel a sudden sharp pain in the chest area right after an injury or impact, you should visit your doctor, so you’ll get checked and diagnosed properly. Your attending physician may prescribe a pain reliever to alleviate the pain, depending on the intensity.
At times, the doctor may require imaging tests to ensure the severity of the affected area and which part is fractured. By doing so, you will avoid any complications due to a lack of attention and wrong diagnosis.