Cracked or bruised ribs require from four to eight weeks to heal, according the Mayo Clinic. Individual resiliency, the severity of the crack or bruise, and other relative factors determine the precise length of time for recovery in each case.
Bruised or cracked ribs are among the most common injuries to the chest, appearing in approximately one in every 10 patients admitted for blunt force trauma, states Medscape. However, not every incidence of rib fracture results from a harsh, sudden impact. In some people, especially those with advanced osteoporosis or otherwise weakened bone density, ribs may fracture under extreme bouts of coughing or even from prolonged stress. Some forms of cancer can also cause lesions and fracture to form along rib bones.
In most cases, bruises or fractures along the rib bones heal on their own, without extensive medical attention. Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen can alleviate some of the associated pain, which usually worsens when the area is touched or when taking deep breaths. Despite the pain it may cause, WebMD actually encourages sufferers of cracked ribs to take a long, deep breath at least once every hour,and to sleep on their affected side. These counter-intuitive measures play an important role in preventing pneumonia and partial collapse of the lung tissue. Additional at-home remedies to assist the healing process include ice compresses and plenty of rest. As with any injury, an examination by a licensed physician is the only way to achieve a precise diagnosis.