A rib bruise is a blunt, closed injury to the bony ribcage due to, for example, a fall or blow. Often it is a sports injury. But even a fall on the stairs or in the bathroom often causes a rib bruise. Pain is the main symptom of this injury. Read more here: What is a rib bruise? What to do about the pain? How long does the healing process take?
Rib bruise: Description
As a rib bruise doctors refer to a blunt, closed injury in the rib area. The ribs are not broken. The bruise can affect one or more ribs and be pronounced to different degrees. A rib bruise often occurs in the context of sports injuries.
Rib bruise: symptoms
Localized (circumscribed) pain is the main symptom of a rib bruise. By coughing or inhaling, the symptoms increase. There may even be a painful respiratory distress.
On the skin at the site of the injury sometimes a bump mark can be recognized. If the trauma has damaged blood vessels, a hematoma forms.
Rib contusion: causes and risk factors
A rib bruise is the result of direct blunt external trauma to the bony ribs. The ribs are usually covered only by a thin skin layer, and the periosteum is very sensitive to pain. A shock or kick, a hard impact or fall on the ribs can therefore easily lead to a bruise.
This happens especially often in sports, especially in contact sports such as football, handball or ice hockey, as well as in martial arts (such as judo, aikido, boxing, wrestling). But even a fall while cycling, skiing or climbing stairs can cause a bruise of the ribs. The same applies if a motorist strikes the steering wheel in an accident with his chest.
Rib contusion: examinations and diagnosis
If there is a suspicion of a rib bruise, the doctor will first collect the patient’s medical history in consultation with the patient (anamnesis). Possible questions are:
- How did the injury come about?
- What complaints do you have?
- Where exactly do you feel pain?
Following is the physical examination. The doctor carefully scans the ribs. Both in case of a bruise as well as a fracture of the ribs, the injured area is very painful. On the basis of the physical examination alone, the two clinical pictures are not always easy to distinguish from one another.
Therefore, if you suspect a rib bruise always the chest is X-rayed. On the radiograph, bony injuries such as a fracture are generally easy to recognize.
Rib contusion: treatment
As a first aid measure you should cool the injured area with a rib bruise. For this you can put in a cloth wrapped ice cubes or a cold envelope on the bruised ribs. This reduces the pain and counteracts swelling of the tissue.
The attending physician prescribes suitable analgesics such as tramadol or ibuprofen. The latter also has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Coughing is very painful in a rib bruise. If necessary, patients will be given a cough suppressant (antitussive) for the night to allow a restful sleep.
Mucolytic drugs (mucolytics) facilitate the painful coughing of stuck secretions in the respiratory tract.
Larger strains in the ribcage area should be avoided even with a slight rib bruise. For example, patients should not carry heavy loads and be back-friendly. This includes squatting with a straight back when you want to pick something up from the ground.
Rib contusion: Disease course and prognosis
Especially when breathing deeply and coughing, a rib bruise becomes painfully noticeable. Therefore, many patients breathe only gently and gently (respiratory respiration) and avoid coughing. This can lead to pneumonia, especially in elderly patients.
A blunt chest injury such as a rib bruise can, in severe cases, also lead to bruising of internal organs, such as a heart bruise (heart contusion) or a lung contusion (pulmonary contusion). Cardiac contusion manifests itself, for example, as cardiac arrhythmia, and severe pulmonary contusion can cause dangerous respiratory problems (often after hours to days).
Rib contusion: duration
A Rippenprellung is very painful and needs time to heal. Depending on the severity, this can take several weeks.