A chest wall injury can sometimes happen during sleep, so it’s important to get a proper diagnosis as soon as possible.
Chest pain that is due to an injury from a fall, car accident or other trauma can be managed with immediate treatment. A chest wall injury caused by a rib fracture will heal with at-home treatment.
- Pain when lifting
- Pain when coughing
- Pain when breathing in and out
- Pain when doing heavy lifting
- Chest pain with severe vomiting
- Chest pain with a sudden fall
How is it diagnosed?
It is best to consult a doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing pain in your chest region. For a chest injury, there are several tests that will be done.
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Ultrasound scan
These imaging tests can reveal the exact location of the injury and can aid in the diagnosis.
How is it treated?
If it is diagnosed as a rib fracture, the pain will be treated with rest, anti-inflammatories and painkillers. You will be instructed to avoid lifting heavy weights. You will be advised to take rest days and avoid strenuous physical activities.
If you are diagnosed with a chest wall injury, the pain can be managed with rest, anti-inflammatories and painkillers. You will be instructed to avoid lifting heavy weights.
The pain in the chest wall will improve as you heal. The pain may also subside if you take rest days and avoid strenuous physical activity.
If the pain isn’t resolved, or if you are having trouble breathing, it may be an indication of something more serious. You may need to see a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.
What can I do to prevent it?
There are some things that you can do to prevent rib fractures. You should avoid lifting heavy weights if you have a rib fracture.
Your doctor will also advise you to avoid any activities that overstretch your chest muscles. This includes lifting heavy boxes, doing yard work, climbing stairs or lifting strollers.
You should also avoid sitting at a computer for extended periods of time.
What’s the long-term outlook?
If you have a rib fracture, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible. They can make sure that your rib fracture is not more serious and prescribe the appropriate treatment.
As with any injury, rib fractures that are not treated properly or incorrectly can cause long-term problems. They can also cause permanent damage to your lungs or chest wall.
The sooner you get a diagnosis and treatment, the better your long-term outlook will be.
What’s the difference between a rib fracture and a broken collarbone?
Sometimes, a rib fracture can cause a broken collarbone. The collarbone is the bone at the end of your upper back that connects to your shoulder.
If you have a broken collarbone, you will also have pain in your shoulder and neck. This is because the collarbone is the last part of your spine to fuse together.
Although a broken collarbone is an injury to the collarbone, it is not a rib fracture. There are two types of broken collarbones:
- A displaced fracture. This type of fracture is common in sports injuries.
- A nondisplaced fracture. This type of fracture is more common in falls, car accidents, and other types of trauma.
How do I know if I’m in pain?
Pain is a very normal reaction to an injury. However, it can also be a sign that something else is wrong.
Pain in the chest may be a sign of a rib fracture. Or, it could be an indication of a heart attack. Or, it could indicate an infection.
If your chest pain has lasted for more than a few days or you have trouble breathing, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible.
How long does it take to heal?
It can take two to three months for a rib fracture to heal.
If you have a displaced fracture, it will take longer to heal. It may even take up to a year to completely heal.
Sometimes, a rib fracture can cause permanent damage to the surrounding muscles and bone. You may need surgery to repair the damage.
Depending on the extent of the damage and how fast you heal, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days or weeks.
Can it be treated?
If you have pain, you should see a doctor. They can make sure that the rib fracture isn’t more serious.
It may take a while before you can return to your normal activities. You will also need to avoid any strenuous physical activity for a period of time.
Depending on the extent of the injury and how you heal, you may need to stay in the hospital for several days.
What other symptoms do I need to look out for?
Other symptoms may include:
- Persistent, dull pain in the middle of your chest
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Pain in your shoulder
- Pain in your upper back
Tests for rib fractures
One of the most common tests a doctor will take is an X-ray. An X-ray is a type of machine that sends invisible beams of energy through the air to create an image on film.
There are different types of X-rays. Depending on what type you have, you may need to do some specific things in order to take one.
This test can show the extent of a rib fracture. It can also help the doctor see the location of any internal injuries.
How long does it take for the results of an X-ray to be available?
The results of an X-ray can take several days to a few weeks to be released to your doctor.
What is the outlook?
The chest pain that you experience will improve once the rib fracture is treated. The pain will improve with rest and physical therapy.
If the rib fracture is severe, it will need to be treated immediately. You will also need surgery to repair the ribs.
Complications are rare but can be severe. If you experience a chest injury, it is vital that you seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Ask your doctor for more information about the risks associated with rib fractures.
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