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In most cases, the most prominent symptom of a bruised rib is pain. This pain will typically be worse when moving or twisting the torso. For some people, there is also significant pain when breathing, and individuals with bruised ribs usually experience severe pain when touching the area of the injury.
The symptoms of rib bruising can be especially difficult to deal with because they affect almost everything a person does. Standing, walking, and bending are all likely to be very painful. This can make it difficult for a person to continue her normal daily tasks, and sometimes people have to miss a lot of work, especially if they have physically-challenging jobs.
It’s also commonly difficult for doctors to treat any kind of rib injury, including a bruise. The rib bones can’t be put in a cast, and it’s very hard to immobilize the area of a rib injury. The most common approach is to ask the patient to rest and avoid movements that might cause pain. It’s also usually important to avoid any kind of re-injury, and that can be difficult for some people whose jobs put them in risky physical situations.
When trying to endure the pain from this injury, some people use ice on the spot where the injury occurred. The actual pain from the injury is usually centered in the muscles surrounding the bone, and an ice pack can reduce any inflammation or swelling that might occur. Another common approach is to take some kind of anti-inflammatory medicine. This would usually be ibuprofen, since it is generally easier on the stomach and less expensive than many other choices. Doctors may also prescribe more potent prescription painkillers if the injury is severe enough.
Bruised ribs are usually associated with some kind of violent physical trauma. A good example would be falling from a high place and landing forcefully on a rib. People who play contact sports, like boxers or football players, are very vulnerable to these kinds of injuries. Sometimes it is possible to get a bruised rib from a lengthy bout of severe coughing, but this is generally less common.
Individuals should take the symptoms of a bruised rib seriously. These symptoms are very similar to the symptoms of a broken rib, which can be much more serious and potentially lead to severe complications, including collapsed lung. An X-ray can determine whether the rib is broken or bruised.