Rib Bruise

By | June 8, 2022

It happened quickly: you don’t pay attention for a moment, you fall and fall unfavorably or you bump into something. Most of the time, the pain subsides quickly. However, if you have persistent pain in the area of ​​your costal arch, you may have a bruised rib (rib contusion).

What is a rib bruise?

A rib contusion is an externally inflicted blunt injury or trauma to the bony ribs. In the case of a rib contusion, in contrast to a rib fracture, these forces are not so strong that the ribs break, but it remains on the border of the fracture. For arteriovenous fistula guide, please visit deluxesurveillance.com.

The tissue in front of the ribs is crushed when the ribs are bruised. This contusion leads to swelling and irritation of the nerve endings in the area of ​​the periosteum. Affected people usually feel pain in the rib area when they have a bruised rib, which can cause them difficulties in breathing and in everyday activities. They often adopt a relieving posture because of the pain.


A bruised rib is most common in people who put a lot of strain on their bodies. Martial artists such as boxers or athletes in team sports (e.g. handball or football) are particularly affected because they are in constant physical contact and hitting other players.

Athletes in sports with an increased risk of falling, such as skiing or mountain biking, are also at risk of bruising their ribs. Older people are more likely to fracture than a rib contusion due to the reduced elasticity of the bones due to age.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A bruised rib is usually associated with very clear and typical symptoms that the affected person finds very painful. Even the slightest movement causes severe pain that persists even at rest. Affected people often complain of shortness of breath, since inhaling and exhaling with a bruised rib is extremely uncomfortable.

If there is an annoying, dry cough in addition to the bruised ribs, the pain can increase significantly. In most cases, the pain does not only occur directly in the area of ​​the bruise, but the entire chest is affected. The affected person often assumes a tense misalignment, which can even lead to severe back pain.

Unfortunately, medical or drug treatment only helps to a very limited extent in the case of an existing bruised rib. Commercial painkillers can effectively relieve the existing pain. However, this is the only way to combat existing symptoms.

Physical activities should be reduced, otherwise the pain can increase significantly. The more rest the body is given, the faster the healing process can progress in the case of an existing bruised rib.

Diagnosis & History

A bruised rib with persistent discomfort in the rib area should always be thoroughly evaluated to determine if it is in fact a rib bruise or rib fracture.

The diagnosis of a bruised rib is not that easy and cannot be felt easily by manual examination, even by an experienced doctor. Even with an X-ray examination, it is not easily possible to precisely distinguish a rib contusion from a rib fracture.

A rib fracture can lead to internal injuries, such as a pneumothorax caused by damage to the pulmonary membrane, with sometimes life-threatening consequences. In a pneumothorax, air from the lungs enters the pleural cavity, which is actually empty of air. As a result, the lungs can no longer expand properly when breathing and gas exchange is impeded, which can lead to serious complications such as cardiopulmonary failure in tension pneumothorax.

The course of a rib bruise depends on the extent of the injury. A bruised rib must be healed in peace so that the tissue can recover. A healing process of about 3 to 4 weeks is the rule for a bruised rib. During this time, you must refrain from all activities that tax the thoracic area, such as heavy lifting, abrupt twisting movements, etc. Athletes in particular must adhere to this, but they only too often and too quickly return to training after a rib bruise.


If there are internal injuries due to the bruised ribs, life-threatening complications can occur. A typical side effect of a bruised rib is tension pneumothorax, which can result in cardiopulmonary failure. In less severe cases, a rib fracture causes severe pain and restricted movement.

As a result of being bedridden, for example, circulatory disorders, oedema, sores and infections can develop. If the sufferer moves abruptly during recovery, twists the upper body too far left or right, or lifts heavy loads, there is a risk of a fracture or a subsequent fracture. Severe bruises also sometimes affect the ability to breathe, leading to aspiration and subsequent pneumonia. This can be fatal, especially in children, the elderly and the sick.

The therapy of a rib bruise usually runs without major problems. However, painkillers and decongestants can cause complications – often there is exhaustion, headaches and body aches and other side effects. If taken regularly, there is a risk of heart and liver damage. In individual cases, the corresponding preparations cause allergic reactions. In addition, interactions can occur and promote further complications.

When should you go to the doctor?

After an accident, violence or a fall, the mobility of the skeletal system must be checked. If the person concerned suffers from persistent pain or an increasing sensitivity to pain, he should consult a doctor to clarify the symptoms. In the case of a rib bruise, the affected person experiences irregularities in the area of ​​the upper body. Locomotion or bending can no longer be done without symptoms.

Restrictions in mobility, the usual movement sequences or irregularities in a movement must be presented to a doctor. Loss of respiratory activity is worrying. If the person concerned cannot take in enough oxygen, he needs a medical examination. A lack of oxygen can lead to an emergency situation. An emergency service must be alerted as soon as acute shortness of breath or loss of consciousness occurs. At the same time, first aid measures are to be initiated by those present.

A doctor’s visit is necessary if pressure pain, sensitivity disorders or discolouration of the skin appear. It must be clarified whether internal injuries to the organs or bleeding of the vessels occurred after the incident.

In the case of heart palpitations, nausea, vomiting or internal tension, the symptoms should be examined by a doctor. Coughing or sputum indicate health problems. If there is bloody sputum, there is a need for action as soon as possible. A doctor is needed so that medical care can be initiated.

Treatment & Therapy

A bruised rib is usually treated conservatively, less often with surgery. Because of the acute pain of a bruised rib when breathing and moving, the doctor usually prescribes a painkiller. In the case of a bruised rib, it makes sense to cool the affected areas with cold packs, especially to prevent swelling.

Decongestant medication is sometimes prescribed for a bruised rib. An elastic support bandage is rarely applied. In the event of a rib bruise, the patient must keep the thoracic area still and avoid unnecessary strain.

In addition, physiotherapeutic measures can be prescribed. Only in the case of a very severe rib contusion does respiratory therapy have to be carried out to prevent pneumonia, e.g. B. due to severe breathing difficulties, the accumulated secretion cannot be coughed up properly.


Even if you cannot completely avoid a bruised rib, there are effective preventive measures. You can prevent a bruised rib from a fall by wearing appropriate footwear. In sports, a good warm-up training session that provides good blood circulation in the thoracic area is particularly helpful. You should stick to a healthy training schedule that does not overwhelm the body. Sensitive areas in sports can be protected by appropriate measures.


A bruised rib usually causes a lot of pain. After the diagnosis of this injury, however, the patient can take a number of measures to help alleviate the symptoms in everyday life. Conservation is the top priority here. The affected person must find a position in which he can lie optimally, especially at night.

Side sleeper pillows or other padding have proven to be extremely useful. Cooling compresses can also help relieve pain. Some patients, on the other hand, find warming pads beneficial, which should be tried out individually. If there is tension when coughing or laughing, this can unpleasantly increase the pain in the trunk area.

It is therefore important to successfully treat a possible infection that triggers the cough. This is done with inhalations and herbal teas that have an antispasmodic effect. Even if a bruised rib can often also cause tension in the trunk muscles, massages should be avoided. This could also irritate the rib area.

Many patients find liniments with relaxing tinctures or warm baths with appropriate additives beneficial. If possible, physical activities should be avoided during the rib bruise, since the associated deeper breathing can intensify the pain.

You can do that yourself

A bruised rib is a painful event, but its symptoms can also be alleviated efficiently with self-help in everyday life. First of all, rest is important in order not to intensify the pain caused by the bruised ribs. It is also important that the person concerned finds a position in which he can lie optimally. This also applies to the night. Side sleeper pillows or other padding often help to be able to position yourself as painlessly as possible. Cooling compresses are often well suited to relieving the pain quickly. However, there are also patients for whom warmth works better. This is where individual testing is important.

Tension when coughing or laughing can make the bruised ribs particularly uncomfortable in terms of pain. Anyone who has a cough parallel to the bruise should also take care of the infection, for example by inhaling or drinking herbal tea.

A bruised rib is often accompanied by tense muscles in the trunk area caused by the pain. Massages are counterproductive as they could further irritate the rib area. It is better to apply relaxing and anticonvulsant tinctures or, if the heat is tolerated, baths with the appropriate additives. Deep breathing can also cause pain with a bruised rib. Physical activity that greatly intensifies breathing is therefore also better avoided during the period of acute rib problems.

Rib Bruise