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Bruised Ribs: Symptoms and Treatment

Bruised Ribs: Symptoms and Treatment

Bruised ribs is a painful condition that can occur due to trauma to the chest and ribcage. Here's all that you need to know about this condition.
Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Bruised ribs are normally seen due to trauma to the chest region. This issue is especially common in contact sports, and often a result of sport injuries. However, at times, a person may end up with bruised ribs from coughing or sneezing violently too. The downside of this kind of injury is that, there is little that can be done to hasten the healing process, as the ribs continuously move while we breathe. However, there are some simple ways of dealing with this condition.

  • Tenderness close to the traumatized area. This tenderness and pain may be aggravated on coughing and laughing.
  • When the ribs are bruised, then there may be some bruising outwardly visible as well. So, the skin may appear blue in color over the affected region. It may also be red and slightly swollen.
  • Due to the pain, you may have a tend to take small short breaths, leading to shortness of breath.

The diagnosis for a bruised rib can be done on the basis of the aforementioned symptoms and with the help of radiological examinations. If you have had a recent trauma in the chest region, and there is some redness and swelling present along with severe tenderness, then a bruised ribs diagnosis can be reached. However, for a final diagnosis, the help of an X-ray may be taken.


Bruised ribs can be quite painful to deal with. This is because, unlike the arm or the legs, the ribs cannot be immobilized as they constantly move when we breathe. This further adds to the pain and discomfort, and also increases the healing time. You can take some pain relievers to deal with the discomfort and pain. However, the best bruised ribs treatment consists of taking adequate bed rest and applying ice to the affected region of the chest. This also helps to prevent the occurring of any swelling. However, do not apply the ice directly on to the abdominal region.

Prevent any kind of further trauma to the region by covering the affected region, as any kind of trauma will only aggravate the injury and further delay healing. Be sure to not engage in any kind of strenuous physical activity immediately after recovery. This is because any kind of recurrence of sporting injury can lead to severe pain, relapse, or even result in a broken rib. Limit the amount of stretching and bending for the first 24 to 72 hours. There are high chances of catching a severe respiratory infection like pneumonia when you have a bruised rib and are breathing shallowly. So it is best to take certain precautions in such cases, like prophylactic antibiotics to prevent any such infection.

Bruised ribs shouldn't be taken lightly. This is because, if one tends to ignore a bruised rib and continues with his normal physical routine, then he could aggravate the injury. Furthermore, at times, if the ribs are cracked, then they could cave in, and end up puncturing the lungs, leading to severe repercussions. Hence, it is best to take such cases seriously, and diagnose and treat the condition at the earliest. But like they say, prevention is better than cure; so when playing any kind of physically demanding contact sport, it is best to wear appropriate protective gear, so as to prevent the chances of sustaining a chest injury and ending up with bruised ribs.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.