If you have been in a car accident, one of the possible injuries is a fractured rib. While fractured ribs are common in accidents, the symptoms can sometimes be subtle at first.
Knowing the signs of a broken rib can help you get proper treatment right away.
Pain at the injury site
One of the first signs of a fractured rib is pain or tenderness where the break occurred. This pain usually gets worse when you breathe deeply, cough sneeze or twist your torso, and even light pressure on the affected area can cause significant discomfort. The pain may be sharp and stabbing or feel like a dull, persistent throbbing ache.
Broken ribs make it very painful to take deep breaths. You may notice yourself taking shallow breaths or feeling short of breath because it hurts to expand your chest fully. This reduced lung capacity can leave you feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
Bruised, swollen skin
The damaged rib bone can cause internal bleeding and swelling on the surface of the skin. There may be visible bruising, along with a tender, swollen area over the fractured rib. The bruise may grow larger over the first few days after the injury.
Fractured ribs can make it very difficult to get comfortable enough to sleep. Lying down puts pressure on the broken rib, which causes significant pain. You may struggle to find a sleep position that does not aggravate the injury. Coughing or sudden movements during the night can also cause sharp pain that interrupts sleep. Lack of quality sleep and constant discomfort through the night are common symptoms of a fractured rib.
If you experience these signs after an accident, see your doctor right away. An X-ray can confirm the broken rib. Proper treatment will help manage the pain and prevent potential complications.