Why Are Floating Ribs Easily Broken?

According to the BBC, all ribs are fragile, but floating ribs are especially easily broken because they only attach in one place, to the spine and not to the sternum. However, the real danger is that a fracture to these ribs can cause damage to other internal organs, states SportsMD.

The Better Health Channel from the State Government of Victoria explains that blunt force trauma is the most common injury to ribs. This occurs during falls, car accidents and sports-related injuries. During these injuries, ribs can be fractured and broken. Also, the muscles along the rib cage can be strained, ribs can be torn from the cartilage that connects them to the sternum, or blood vessels can break and cause bruising. Signs of injury to the ribs include pain when moving, laughing or coughing, muscle spasms and grinding sounds. However, treatment for broken ribs involves resting and waiting until the ribs heal.

Broken ribs, especially broken floating ribs, pose a serious threat to the lungs, heart and spleen with their potential to puncture them. Pneumothorax occurs when the lung is punctured, which can result in breathing difficulties, according to the Better Health Channel. Cardiac and associated blood vessel injury occurs when the heart or the blood vessels get torn by the broken ribs. Broken ribs can also rupture the spleen, which then results in internal bleeding.