Broken ribs are a nasty injury, which results from three main causes. This article discusses the causes, treatment and includes special care advice. Broken ribs are very painful and cause a host of problems, and when there are multiple broken ribs, the risk for complications rises.
A person can get broken ribs in a few ways, such as an automobile accident, a fall, or blunt force trauma to the chest. As most of us know, the ribs protect major organs such as our heart and lungs. Once broken these bones could puncture a lung or the heart or one of the organs near this area.
When a lung is punctured it collapses, and the space in between the lung and chest wall begins to fill with air. This additional air makes it difficult to breathe, and most patients end up with a tube being placed in their chest to relieve some of the pressure. Once the tube is in place, surgeons can go through the tube down to the area and repair the puncture from the inside, but if that is impossible they make a small incision in the sternum to repair.
There is no fixing the broken ribs as they must heal on their own, but doctors do give strong pain medications to provide pain relief to the patient. When multiple breaks occur, the pain can be severe so usually the patient is given nerve-blocking medications such as an epidural. According to the Mayo Clinic, it takes broken ribs a month or two to heal.
Patients with this type of injury find it very difficult to lay down so generally they sleep in a recliner. Sleeping in this reclining position not only makes breathing easier, but also limits movements, which makes the patient more comfortable.
Oxygen is also given to the patient who has multiple broken ribs to help ensure they get adequate air to breathe. This supplemental air helps to guard against complications such as pneumonia.
My brother in law inspired this article. He lived through a serious accident in which he rolled a farm tractor on him. Luckily, he had a cell phone to call for help, thank God for modern technology. He lay under the tractor in this photograph for 30 long minutes until help arrived. The accident left him with nine broken ribs, a punctured lung, and a very long recovery. Angels surrounded him that day, and protected him, as farm accidents such as this usually are fatal.