How do you treat broken ribs before receiving medical attention?


Quick Answer

Individuals with fractured ribs should lie on the injured side of the body, says WebMD, unless the neck or back is also injured. This allows the person to take the deepest possible breaths.

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Full Answer

Typically, fractured ribs are treated at home and heal on their own in time, says WebMD. However, a physician should examine the individual to rule out internal injuries, such as injuries to the organs in the chest cavity or a punctured or collapsed lung. Taping fractured ribs generally is no longer done, as this procedure can result in partial lung collapse or pneumonia. Instead, the healing process focuses on pain management and regular, full expansion of the chest cavity and lungs. Fractured ribs take at least six weeks to heal.

The pain associated with broken ribs can be managed by icing the area, using over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen or other medications as prescribed by a physician, says WebMD. It is important for individuals with broken ribs to cough or take the deepest breath possible at least once an hour. Inflating the lungs as fully as possible can help prevent pneumonia or a partial collapse of the lung tissue. Extra rest is another important part of managing and healing rib fractures.

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