The signs and symptoms of a cracked or fractured rib include pain when breathing, mild-to-severe pain near the rib cage, headaches and fatigue, according to WebMD. Individuals who feel short of breath due to a cracked rib may also feel dizzy, restless, anxious, sleepy or scared.
A cracked or fractured rib also feels tender around the injured area and may produce pain when pressing on the breastbone, explains WebMD. A common cause of a cracked or fractured rib is a direct blow or injury to the chest. Individuals can also crack a rib when coughing excessively, especially if suffering from a disease that makes the bones weak, such as cancer or osteoporosis.
Most people with a cracked rib experience breathing problems. The ribs keep space open in the chest while the muscles in the chest contract, leaving room for the lungs to fill up with air, according to WebMD. The ribs also protect organs in the chest.
Individuals who have tenderness in the ribs or experience difficulty breathing should consult with a medical professional, especially when a squeezing pain or pressure exists in the chest, according to Mayo Clinic. Pain that extends into the shoulder and arm should be evaluated immediately, as these symptoms may indicate a heart attack.