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5 Ways to Treat Fractured Ribs


Pain Management

Fractured ribs can be extremely painful. They can hurt every time the patient moves or breathes. Therefore, the doctor will prescribe some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen (Motrin) to treat fractured ribs. Take this medication as directed. Not only will it help control the pain, it will also help control the swelling to the broken rib and the surrounding areas. In some extreme cases, a doctor may prescribe a strong pain reliever that has codeine in it to help the patient relax and sleep.

Rest and Relaxation

When you have fractured a rib (or multiple ribs), you will need to get a lot of rest and relaxation. It may be hard to lie down on your back because of the pain, but you can sit in a recliner or a chair. It is important that you relax and not move around a lot. Movement will provoke pain. Resting and relaxing will allow your ribs time to heal.


It is possible to bandage a fractured rib. Using some adhesive medical tape that is about one to two inches wide, place it above the fractured rib. Run the tape along the rib to the center of your back. Do not wrap the medical tape all the way around your body because that could cause you to have problems with breathing. You can put a piece of tape over each fractured rib. This will stabilize the rib a little bit and prevent movement. It will also help to reduce the pain. If you do not have medical tape, then you can also place your arm in a sling and hold it against the fractured rib. You arm can act as a brace against the rib.

Cough it Up

When you have a fractured rib, it will hurt to cough. However, you should cough frequently. Coughing will prevent phlegm and mucus from building up in your lungs. Fluids building up in your lungs could cause pneumonia. Try coughing very lightly if the pain is unbearable. Regardless of the pain, you need to cough frequently.

Hot and Cold

To help reduce pain and swelling, you can hold a heating pad or an ice pack against the rib. Either hot or cold will be okay. However, if you do use a heating pad or an ice pack, make sure you only keep in on for about 15 minutes of each hour.

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