Cracked ribs are treated with extra rest, ice on the affected area and pain medications, according to WebMD. Some patients are comfortable with over-the-counter pain medications, while others need prescription pain medicines to get them through the discomfort of recovery.
During the healing process, it is important to breathe as deeply as possible or to cough at least one time per hour, recommends WebMD. This reduces the likelihood of developing pneumonia or of experiencing a partial lung collapse. The temptation is to breathe shallowly and avoid discomfort, but that can be harmful for the lungs.
People with a cracked rib might want to lie on their injured side if there is no back or neck injury, explains WebMD. This actually allows for deeper breathing, which is better for the lungs over time. Some people may recommend taping or wrapping the area around the injury. This can ease pain in the short term, but it keeps the sufferer from breathing deeply, leading to the same risks of pneumonia and lung collapse. The most frequent causes for cracked ribs include a direct hit to the chest, commonly coming from a fall or car wreck. People with osteoporosis, cancer or other conditions that weaken the bones can crack ribs while coughing hard.