Monday, August 06, 2007

Don't do this at home

....slip in the shower and give your ribs a nasty whack. 10 days on and it's still ouch. The only remedies - Cuprofen, a stiff vodka and some TLC.

Then there's this at Net Doctor. I wasn't attacked but the prognosis is the same.

This maybe of help to others with a similar predicament.

How can I tell whether my ribs are cracked or not?

I was assaulted about one month ago. Initially my whole chest had bruises. The bruises are gone now, but one month later the sides of my chest are tender to the touch, slightly below my armpits.

I can breath normally, however I am now concerned that my ribs have been cracked and this wasn't picked up by the hospital.


I'm sorry to hear about your attack, but I hope I will be able to put your mind at rest about this.

From what you tell me, it is quite possible that you did indeed suffer a bruised, cracked or even broken rib when you were assaulted, but as far as your health is concerned you do not need to worry.

If a rib is cracked, or even broken but not displaced, that means it is not out of position and likely to stick into and damage your lung, then it is held in place and naturally splinted buy the other ribs and muscles around it.

Initially it is very painful to breath deeply, or cough or sneeze, but this gradually settles over a period of three to four weeks until there is just some local tenderness at the site of injury. It sounds as if this is what has happened to you.

Even if you did suffer a cracked or broken rib, and this had been detected at the hospital by an X-ray, they would not have done anything else about it.

Strapping the chest relieves pain but restricts lung movement and is not a good idea, so all they would have done would be to give you some painkillers and an explanation.

I guess it would have been nice to know, so you wouldn't be worrying now.

There is no need to go and have X-rays now, as from a medical point of view nothing further would be done.

However, if there is likely to be some legal action as a result of your assault - for example, you were in a position to sue your attackers for injury - then evidence of a broken rib on an X-ray would strengthen your case.

This would still be visible for some weeks as there would be evidence of healing on an X-ray. But you would obviously need legal advice before going to this trouble.

I think you will find that it may be six to eight weeks before all signs of your injury can be completely forgotten - but you will be fine after that and as good as new!

Yours sincerely

Dr Keith Barnard, GP

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