Fractured ribs are a common injury resulting from a serious auto accident. With more than 30,000 fatalities caused in motor vehicle accidents every year and 2.3 million injuries, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driving can be incredibly dangerous. Fractured ribs occur most often in auto wrecks during a direct blow to the chest. If the cartilage that connects the rib cage together is broken, medical professionals still refer to this as a fractured rib, and the pain can be just as debilitating.
Complications and Pain Associated with Fractured Ribs
The ribcage protects vital organs, and when fractured, any sudden movements, such as getting up from a chair, or even breathing, causes sharp chest pain. Breathing or coughing causes pain because the muscles used to expand the chest are within the ribcage, and the contracting of these muscles against a broken rib can be excruciating. After a car accident that results in serious chest pain that may be a broken rib, the victim should seek medical attention immediately because there are complications that go along with fractured ribs. A sharp, fractured rib can puncture or cause damage to the lungs, blood vessels, spleen and other organs that cause internal bleeding or the inability to inflate the lungs. If the lung is punctured it can result in a collapsed lung, called pneumothorax, which is a serious health complication. Another serious complication is flail chest, which occurs when three or more ribs are fractured in more than one place, according to WebMD. In flail chest, the damaged area is unable to hold the correct shape due to lack of structural support. Because of this, there is less room in the chest for the lungs to expand into, which causes breathing difficulties and lack of oxygen. Flail chest also severely impacts the muscle’s ability to work, adding an additional level of breathing difficulty.
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Signs and Symptoms of a Fractured Rib
If you or a loved one were injured in a car accident that resulted in any chest pain, seek medical attention immediately and contact an experienced car accident attorney for legal advice. A fractured rib may cause the following difficulties and pain:
- Chest pain;
- Pain during breathes;
- Pain when the affected area is pressed upon or is put under even mild pressure;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Shortness of breath;
- Anxiety, restlessness, or fear from breathing difficulties;
- Headache; and
- Feeling tired, sleepy, or dizzy.
Recovering From Fractured Ribs
Unfortunately there is not a lot that can be done to speed up the process of a fractured rib. Unlike an arm or leg, a cast cannot be put on a rib because of its internal placement. However, there are steps to take during the normal six weeks of recovery time to ease the pain and speed the process of healing:
- Ice the affected area;
- Make sure to get extra sleep and rest;
- Use pain medication such as over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatories or stronger medication prescribed by your doctor; and
- To prevent pneumonia or partial collapse of the lung tissue, take a deep breath or cough every hour. This will be painful but is important to do.
If you or a loved one of yours has suffered a painful fractured rib or multiple fractured ribs in the event of a car accident that was no fault of your own, you may be entitled to damages. Give the Law Offices of Roger Ghai, P.C. a call today at 770-792-1000 for a free consultation.