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Cracked Rib Symptoms

Cracked Rib Symptoms

The rib cage is one the most important parts of the human skeletal system. It protects many of the important organs of the body, and therefore, any kind of injury to the rib can be hazardous. Let us find out the possible symptoms of a fractured rib and how to take care of it.
Aarti R
Last Updated: Jan 27, 2018
To know the symptoms of a cracked rib, first we need to know a little about the ribs and what causes a cracked or fractured rib. Ribs are classified into three categories according to their location inside the body. The three categories are: upper ribs, middle ribs and lower ribs. The upper ribs are protected by the collarbone and shoulder blades. In case there is a cracked upper rib, it can hurt the aorta.
The middle ribs are more prone to injuries and cracked middle ribs can hurt your lungs to the extent that it may even puncture the lungs. The bottom ribs are also more susceptible to injuries and the broken ends can hurt or injure the internal organs, like, spleen, liver and kidneys.
Cracked or Broken Rib Symptoms
Symptoms of cracked rib depends upon the severity of the injury. Following are some of the common broken rib symptoms.
Chest Pain: Mild to severe pain is experienced in the affected region. Pain may also be observed at the time of coughing, sneezing or laughing. Fullness and squeezing pain in the chest are also symptoms of cracked rib.
Breathing Problems: The person may not be able to breathe, as functioning of lungs may get affected due to the injured rib. This may lead to dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, restlessness and headache.
Painful Breathing: Patient may experience pain while breathing due to the chest wall deformities that are caused as a result of cracked rib.
Pain and Crepitus Movement: Cracking, popping or grinding sound may be observed at the site of injury. There are some tender spots that may develop around the chest area.
As the ribs cover very sensitive part of the body like heart, lungs, spleen, etc., any harm to the ribs may be very dangerous. Following are some of the risks and symptoms of serious injury.
Trauma of the Main Blood Vessels: If the upper rib is seriously injured, it may hurt the aorta which is one of the main artery of the human body. This may directly affect the functioning of heart.
Pneumothorax: Broken rib can puncture the chest wall which can change the pressure within the chest, and the lungs may collapse. Chest pain, coughing blood, difficulty in breathing are some of the symptoms of this condition.
Splenic Rupture: Main function of the spleen is to filter old and damaged blood cell and to manufacture lymphocytes or white blood cells. Serious rib injury may result in splenic rupture which may result in severe internal bleeding.
Probable Causes of Cracked Ribs

Reasons for getting a rib fracture are many. Many rib fractures are followed by a sprain or tear developed in muscles or tendons, or even the ligaments which are intercostal. Broken or cracked ribs can hurt the blood vessels and other internal organs. Following are some of the probable causes behind cracked ribs.
  • Bruising near the chest due to some sort of injury is one of the primary cause of cracked ribs. This may be due to an accident or a fight or playing sports, like, basketball, golf and rowing. Vehicular accidents may cause bruising in the rib cage area.
  • People suffering from osteoporosis are more susceptible to fractures. In osteoporosis, the bone density decreases and bones become more fragile.
  • Inflammation near the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone is called costochondritis. This is another reason for cracked ribs.
  • Pleura is a membrane in the chest cavity that surrounds each of the lungs. When this membrane has a swelling, it may lead to cracked rib.
  • If a cancerous lesion develops in the rib area, there are chances of getting a cracked rib.
  • Severe and prolonged coughing is also one of the causes of cracked rib, due to extended pressure on the rib cage.
Cracked rib is a painful situation and one must take good care for full recovery. One must strictly avoid strenuous activities like workout and sports, as the injury may get aggravated. Applying ice packs is a good way of relieving pain. However, the most important treatment options are rest, and taking prescribed medicines. Cracked rib symptoms, once observed, must be taken seriously. And there should not be any delay in paying a visit to the doctor.