Your ribcage consists of 12 ribs, with muscles and tendons between each rib. If you play a contact sport or have experienced trauma to the torso, such as after a car accident, you could be experiencing bruised ribs. This means the tissue around the ribs has been injured, but the bones themselves are not cracked or fractured. Bruised-rib symptoms include abdominal or chest pain that worsens when you sneeze, take a deep breath or cough forcefully. If you do experience bruised ribs, there are methods to deal with the pain while your body recovers.
Wrap the affected ribs with a compression bandage or a rib binder -- similar to a fabric sleeve -- to fit around the torso and support the ribs. This can help to hold the soft tissues in place and restrict sudden movements that contribute to pain. Supports like these can be purchased at most drugstores or discount superstores. Do not wrap the bandage so tightly as to cut off circulation.
Ice your affected ribs. You can purchase an ice pack or create your own by putting ice cubes in a plastic bag and covering the bag with a hand towel. Apply the ice to the area in 10- to 15-minute increments. Icing the area helps to relieve inflammation and its associated pain.
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. These medications help to reduce blood vessel swelling and relieve pain as your ribs heal. Use only as directed to avoid damage to your stomach lining.
Limit movement as much as possible, especially twisting or lifting movements. Although it can be frustrating to remain sedentary, doing so prevents further stretching and straining of the ribs that can advance the injury. You should occasionally perform exercises like pointing and flexing the foot in order to maintain good circulation to your extremities while you rest.
Increase your intake of fluid and fiber-rich foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Constipation is a common side effect of being sedentary when recovering from a bruised rib. By maintaining a healthy digestive system, you can reduce abdominal pain that can accompany rib bruising.