The ribs are a part of your ribcage, which is made up of your rib bones. Ribs are used to protect your lungs and heart, and they keep your chest wall and diaphragm strong.
Your ribs also protect your lungs by keeping them from being pushed outward, which keeps them clear of dust and other particles.
While ribs may seem like a necessary part of your body, they can be associated with long-term health problems.
Ribs can become damaged over time due to things like:
- Chronic illness
Damage to your ribs can cause:
- Muscle weakness
- A change in the way your lungs work
- Rib cage pain
- Shortness of breath
The good news is that ribs can be repaired. Here are some things you can do to help your ribs heal.
1. Breathe exercises
Breathing exercises are a great way to help make your ribcage stronger.
You can do breathing exercises at home or at the gym. Here are some examples.
2. Get rest
As you heal, it’s important to take frequent breaks from your normal activities to rest. To help your ribcage heal, you can take a break from any activities that cause pain.
To increase lung capacity, it’s also a good idea to avoid smoking and avoid things that cause lung irritation, such as secondhand smoke.
It will take some time for your ribs to heal and fully recover. Try to take it easy and rest as much as possible.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a healthy diet will help your ribs heal. This will give your body the nutrients it needs to repair and strengthen your ribcage.
Some examples of good foods to eat include:
- Whole grains
- Dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean meats
4. Get adequate sleep
Sleep is the best way to heal your ribcage. It’s also important for other parts of your body, including your liver, kidneys, brain, and heart.
Take as much time as you need to rest.
5. Avoid lifting or straining
You should avoid activities that cause your ribcage to be strained, such as lifting heavy objects.
Try to avoid activities that cause strain in your muscles. This is especially true if it’s been a while since you last exercised.
You can also try to avoid activities that make it harder for your muscles to move.
6. Take OTC pain relievers
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help relieve pain and inflammation. Examples include ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve).
Always talk to a healthcare professional before taking any OTC medication. You should also take these medications with food if possible.
7. Consider surgery
If your ribs are damaged and can’t be fixed, you may need to consider surgery.
Your doctor may recommend that you have a rib graft. This is a procedure that puts small pieces of ribs and cartilage back into your chest.
Surgery can also be used to treat rib fractures.
If you want to do a rib graft, your doctor may create a surgical incision in your rib cage. They’ll then use their hands to put the ribs back into place.
The incision may be very small, but it can still cause you some discomfort and pain.
Other surgical options for rib injuries include:
- Chest tube placement. This procedure places a small tube into your chest to help drain fluids and help the injured rib to heal.
- Debridement. This procedure involves removing injured tissue and bone from the affected area to help the ribs heal.
- Ligation. This procedure involves tying off a section of a rib to stop it from moving.
These procedures can be done using a variety of techniques, including:
- Kocher’s maneuver. This procedure involves pushing a finger into your chest and using your fingers to pull on the rib to help it heal.
- Ligamentous reconstruction. This procedure involves using a surgeon’s sutures to help the injured rib heal.
Talk to your doctor about all of your options. They can help you weigh the benefits and risks of each procedure.
What’s the outlook for rib injuries?
Your ribcage is important for your overall health. If it becomes damaged, however, it can slow your healing.
If you have any ribs that are damaged, it’s important to take good care of your lungs and heart. In time, these organs will heal and be able to function as normal.
Take care of your ribs. If they become damaged, don’t ignore your symptoms. It’s important to get the help you need to get your ribs back to full health.
If you’re having trouble breathing, get immediate medical attention. You should also call 911 if you’re experiencing chest pain or shortness of breath.
Your doctor can help guide you through your recovery and recommend treatments that can help your ribs heal.
What is the outlook for rib graft surgery?
Your doctor may recommend a rib graft if you’ve had a rib injury that’s not repairable.
Rib graft surgery is a procedure that involves putting small pieces of ribs and cartilage back into your chest. Your doctor will use their hands to do this.
You may experience some discomfort, discomfort in the incision, and swelling. You may also be sore for a few days after surgery.
The incision may be small, but it can still cause you some discomfort and pain.
In most cases, you’ll be able to go home the same day as the surgery.
Keep in mind that rib graft surgery is a major surgery and should only be done by a board-certified surgeon.
Before having a rib graft, you may need to take antibiotics for up to 10 days after surgery. You should also get plenty of rest.
The bottom line
Your ribs protect your lungs and keep them clear of dust and other particles.
While they may seem like a necessary part of your body, they can be associated with long-term health problems.
The good news is that they can be repaired. It’s very important to take frequent breaks to rest and avoid doing activities that cause pain.
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