Signs of an injured rib include pain in the injured area, pain when breathing and pain when pushing on the breastbone, according to WebMD. Since a person usually cannot breathe normally, other symptoms may include shortness of breath, headache, dizzy spells and anxious feelings.
A doctor can diagnose an injured rib by performing a number of tests such as pushing on the chest, listening to the lungs and heart, and watching an individual breathe, explains WebMD. An X-ray may be necessary if a doctor cannot diagnose a rib injury with other tests. However, rib fractures may not show up on an X-ray, so a person may be treated for one to be safe.
Most rib injuries are treated at home and heal on their own, claims WebMD. Pain relievers are often used to stop the pain; rest is advised, and ice can be used to reduce any swelling. Doctors also suggest that those with rib injuries try to cough or take a deep breath each hour even if painful. This helps to prevent the formation of pneumonia or lung collapse. It may also help to lie on the injured side of the body as this helps the individual breathe more deeply. Most rib injuries take about six weeks to heal fully.