An injury where there is a break in one or more of the rib bones. Often, a broken rib can be merely cracked, which may not be as potentially dangerous as a rib that is broken all the way through.
A broken rib is most commonly the cause of a direct blow to the area, where a rib can be crushed under pressure. Such direct contact can stem from falling, motor vehicle accidents and impact during sports. Another common cause of a rib fracture results from injury sustained in an automobile accident or motorcycle accident, where an individual is exposed to amounts of high exertion to the rib area.
Moderate to severe pain is associated with rib fractures, mainly when the injured person takes a deep breath or puts pressure on the affected area. If a rib has been severely broken (where there are potentially jagged breaks) the bone may cause internal injury and bleeding when coming in contact with organs and blood vessels.
Also, after incurring a rib fracture, a person may develop pneumonia (an infection of the lungs) if they do not breathe deeply enough and keep their lungs clear.
A rib fracture is able to heal on its own, typically within one to two months after incurring the injury. During the healing process, injured persons must not exert themselves in physical activity (such as sports) and may be prescribed to wear a chest binder around their ribs.
If the rib fracture caused complications to other internal organs, the injured person may require hospitalization. To help relieve pain for severe rib fractures, spinal injections and catheters can be used to place anesthetic near the spinal cord and nerves.