Q:

What are the symptoms of a cracked rib?

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Quick Answer

According to WebMD, a cracked or fractured rib can cause moderate pain in the area of the injury that worsens with deep breathing. There is also pain if the injured area is pressed.

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What are the symptoms of a cracked rib?
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Full Answer

According to WebMD, the injured person may also develop a headache, become sleepy, have a feeling of dizziness or become short of breath. Pain may also worsen with movement or if the body is bent. The injury may also cause the person to feel anxious.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms are similar to that of a heart attack, so the person should be checked by a physician. The physician will perform an assessment and possibly take an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

A traumatic blow to the chest, such as impact from a motor vehicle accident or fall, is the most common cause of cracked ribs, according to Mayo Clinic. People involved in contact sports, such as football, have a greater risk of suffering repetitive chest trauma, making them more vulnerable to fractures. Existing health complications that weaken the structural integrity of bone, such as osteoporosis or cancerous lesions, reduce the ribs' resistance to breakage. While serious, cracked ribs pose less dangerous than complete breakage that leaves sharp, splintered edges of bone, which can puncture nearby vessels or organs.

Doctors use a physical exam to listen for signs of strained breathing and to observe any restricted movement or pain sensitivity around the affected ribs, Mayo Clinic explains. Diagnostic imaging tests, such as bone scans, CT scans and MRI scans, help physicians locate the injury site, especially when cracks are too subtle to detect with X-rays. Most cracks heal naturally within six weeks, and the patient uses medication as needed to manage the pain.

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