Caring for a bruised rib involves pain management, proper breathing techniques and rest, according to NHS Choices. If breathing and coughing are painful, over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen may be helpful. An ice pack or bag of frozen peas placed on the chest helps with pain and swelling.
If the patient feels the need to cough, a pillow placed against the chest helps support the injured area, NHS Choices advises. Although breathing is often painful, shallow breaths should be avoided because they increase the possibility of infection. Breaths should be full and deep. Ten very deep breaths hourly also helps prevent infection. The chest should not be tightly wrapped. In addition, physical activity needs to be limited, and smoking should be avoided.