Bruised ribs: How can I relieve the pain?

28 September 2017
Comments: 0
28 September 2017, Comments: 0

Bruised ribs might be caused by trauma to the torso from a vehicular accident or sports injury. Once an injury occurs, the tissues around the ribs might be damaged but the bones are not fractured.

The indications of a bruised rib include chest or abdominal pain that worsens when sneezing, deep breathing or coughing forcefully. If the individual is suspected with the injury, there are several measures that can help ease the discomfort as the body recuperates.

How to care for bruised ribs

  • Apply an ice pack on the site of the bruised ribs. You can buy an ice pack or create your own by placing ice cubes in a plastic bag and covering it with a cloth or towel. Place the pack on the site at 15-20-minute sessions. The cold helps lessen the inflammation and the accompanying pain.


    Apply an ice pack on the site of the bruised ribs.

  • An over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can be given. These drugs work by reducing the swelling of the blood vessels as well as the pain as the ribs start to heal.
  • The individual should limit movement particularly lifting or twisting motions. Even though it might be frustrating to stay sedentary, this helps in preventing further stretching and straining of the ribs that can worsen the injury. The individual should occasionally engage in exercises such as pointing and flexing the foot to maintain proper circulating in the extremities while resting.
  • Increase the fluid intake along with fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Take note that constipation is a usual side effect of being sedentary while recovering from a bruised rib. With a healthy digestive system, the abdominal pain that arises with the bruising can be lessened.

In case the bruised ribs do not respond to over-the-counter drugs, the doctor might prescribe a stronger variant or suggest an anesthesia injection into the site. Since bruised ribs can affect breathing, an injection might be needed in some cases.

Quick Note / Disclaimer

The material posted on this page on bruised ribs is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage the injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Ottawa First Aid.

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