I'm a 35-year-old male in very good physical condition.
I broke 6 ribs about 8 months ago when I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle.
Two of the rib fractures - located in my mid-upper back (probably T4 and T5) - were badly displaced and don't appear that they will line up again when they heal. My orthopedist tells me that the pain will go away and heal eventually, but it still hurts constantly and often feels like I'm being torn up on the inside by my own bones.
Can anybody tell me what I can expect in terms of healing and time frame, and if I should look into having surgery?
It is very rare that rib fractures ever need to be surgically fixed. Because of the way the thoracic cage is structured, when ribs are fractured, the intercostal muscles and fascia, along with the costal cartilage( will hold the ribs in near anatomic alignment.
The exception to this is dislocation of the ribs from their attachments to the vertebrae in the posterior aspect of the thoracic cage.
It usually takes rib fractures about six weeks to unite. But, the soft tissues around the fractures may take a while longer to heal. However, most patients with rib fractures are usually back to their "usual" activities within 4-6 months. Some patients may take a bit longer (every patient is different).
So, if you are still having significant problems, this far out from injury, you may need to see a thoracic surgeon. Most orthopedic surgeon do not surgically treat rib fractures (some spine surgeons will, but most other orthopedists will not).