Rib Injury: Treatment & Healing Time

Instructor: Tara Schickel

Tara has taught staff nursing courses and has a master's degree in public health.

This lesson will describe the length of time it takes for rib injuries to heal, and the main goal of treatment while waiting for healing. We'll also explain the best treatment to foster healing, and when one should seek emergency medical help.

Healing at Home

Jim fell and sustained a fractured rib. He went to see his doctor, who sent him home to rest and heal from his injury. He told Jim that rib injuries usually have to heal naturally since it's pretty impossible to put a cast on a rib. Jim has been resting and trying to heal for four days and is starting to get restless. He decided to do some reading about rib injuries to find out how long he should expect to have to rest. He's hoping to find out some tips that will help him heal faster too.

Length of Recovery Time

Jim is discouraged to find out that it usually takes three to six weeks to heal from a broken rib. If he had just bruised his rib, he would be healed in about three to four weeks. Just Jim's luck, his is broken. As Jim reads further, he realizes he should be thankful that the rib broke, and he didn't end up with torn cartilage in the rib cage. Torn cartilage in the rib cage typically takes 12 weeks or longer to heal! That's a long time!

Chest Xrays and Broken Ribs

Jim continues to read because it has been bothering him that his broken rib didn't show on the chest x-ray. He is worried that maybe there is something else wrong. After all, something as painful as a broken rib would surely show up on x-ray, right? Jim is surprised to discover that broken ribs sometimes show up on x-ray, but not always.

Treatment Goal

Jim reads that although broken ribs have to heal naturally, the main goal of treatment is to provide pain relief during the natural healing process. He learns that the main reason for this is to allow the person with the fracture to be out of pain enough to breathe deeply and move around. Breathing deeply and moving around will keep him from developing pneumonia. This is the most important aspect of waiting for ribs to heal. Jim also puts the pieces of the puzzle together and realizes why his doctor told him not to bandage himself around the rib cage. Tight bandaging will restrict his ability to take a deep breath, further raising his chances of developing pneumonia. Jim definitely doesn't want that. So, he decides he will do his best to breathe deeply and walk in between his rest times.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support