Medical Questions > Conditions and Diseases > Broken Bones Forum

Fractured Ribs that healed improperly

I was in a car accident over a year ago. As a result I was in a back brace for over 3 months. I ulitimately have walked away with a transverse process fracture in my L1 and now have realized after MRI's, CT Scans, and a Bone Scan that I have fractured ribs that went undiagnosed and have healed improperly.

I have received two epidural injections into the area but they are not working. Sleeping is a major cause of discomfort and along there is constant pain throughout the day.

I am in need of some help or suggestions as to how to deal with this longterm. Any help would be appreciated greatly!
Thanks, Matt
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First Helper User Profile Gaelic
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replied February 26th, 2012
Especially eHealthy
fracturedribguy,

Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot that can be done for rib fractures. If the rib is dislocated, where it joins the vertebra, that may be able to be taken care of, just like any other dislocated joint.

However, broken ribs are usually just left to heal on their own. Now days, physicians usually do not even use rib binders. Or if they are used, they have to be removed several times a day for deep breathing exercises. Continuous use of a rib binder tends to cause atelectasis, which can lead to pneumonia.

Also, when the ribs are broken, it is not just the bone that is injured. The periosteum on the bone is ripped apart, the intercostal muscles are torn off their attachments, and the neurovascular bundle is stretched (each rib has a nerve and artery run along its inferior surface in a groove). All of this will heal, but it heals with scar tissue, which does not stretch or contract like regular tissue. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about the scar.


However, you could always see a thoracic surgeon for an evaluation, to see if there is anything that can be done.

In terms of pain management, some anesthesiologists can be intercostal blocks for pain control. That is something else you could look into.


Good luck.
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replied March 30th, 2012
Re-fractured Rib in the Same Spot, Causes? Prevention?
Hi,
I fractured a rib about 4 or 5 years ago or so (possibly 3 years ago but I think about 4 or 5) playing soccer, took a knee to the chest. Recently, after about 4 or 5 years or so, I feel the same type of feeling in the same area, I'm almost positive my rib is cracked in the same area. I was lifting some heavy items a bit ago, etc, though I don't know what caused it to re-fracture since I only have a rough idea of when it began- maybe about a few weeks ago or so, and at first I didn't think that I re-fractured my rib since I hadn't taken another knee to the chest haha for example, but assumed it was just some pain in general, but I'm almost positive now that it's fractured again (the same feeling from when it was fractured 4 or 5 years ago). But I was wondering what could be some causes of re-fracturing the rib (so I know for the future)? such as lifting heavy objects, or is it more twisting (I read online somewhere that golf can cause a cracked rib, etc)? Or maybe sitting hunched over for a bit for example? etc?

Also, what can help prevent a re-fracture? Would certain exercises strengthen the muscles around that area, and would that help? etc?... Would certain vitamins help? calcium? etc?

Mainly though, I was wondering why is it re-fractured? I read online somewhere (another forum) that your bones completely re-heal back to full strength, is that true? Or, did it heal back to full strength, but did it have to do with what you mentioned above, did it have to do with scar tissue, which you said doesn't stretch as much as other tissue, and that combined with lifting heavy objects (without much recent exercise or building of the muscle in that area), and then the "less-stretchy" scar tissue "ripping" apart the bone? ... Or do fractured bones not heal back to full strength? and it didn't have anything to do with the scar tissue?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, as I'd like to try to prevent this in the future, if exercise may help for example, etc.
Thanks,
Brad
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replied June 16th, 2012
Although I don't have any advice. I thought I would join this discussion. Similar to Matt, I was also in a bad car accident. I broken 5 ribs along with a head injury. It has been 7 months since accident, I believe the ribs have healed. My ribs are now visibly protruding against the skin on the left side. My whole upper body is crooked and I have constant pain in my mid, lower back, and left shoulder. I have been in and out of physical therapy. Just started going to a new physical therapist. I have had numerous x-rays, cat scans, mri's, nerve tests. I also have not slept through the night, since accident, because of the constant discomfort. I have been prescribed numerous drugs to help with pain and sleeping, but not really the road I want to take. I use a T.E.N.S. unit almost nightly, but it only offers temporary relief. A couple of my doctors have suggested that I will never be back to "normal". Any advice from someone who has been through a similar situation would be appreciated.
Thanks,
Martin
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replied August 13th, 2012
New research on surgery for broken ribs
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replied November 8th, 2012
just a quick question while we're on topic
I think I broke/fractured my ribs when I would get beaten up by my brother, it's been years but It's caused me continuous pain and discomfort, I don't know what to do about it since my ribs hurt so bad that I can't sleep and 95% of the time I feel like I'm going to throw up from the pain and I can't breath because it feels like it's going to break again...any advice???
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replied November 8th, 2012
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hhuges21,

Sorry that you are having problems.

You should be evaluated to determine the exact etiology of your pain. This is usually done by a thoracic surgeon. Orthopedic surgeons usually do not treat rib problems.


Usually, if the ribs are fractured in the bone portion, they go on to heal without any problems. However, if they do not heal, the patient may have a persistent nonunion, which could cause continuing problems.

If the injury is at the costochondral junction, the patient may have problems with persistent costochondritis.

Injury of the ribs, can cause injury to the muscles or neurovascular bundles which run between the ribs. The muscle heals with scar tissue, which may not move as well as normal muscle tissue. If the patient injured one of the intercostal nerves, that could cause continuing problems.


So, again, you would have to be evaluated to find the exact cause of your problems. Once the problem is known, then a treatment plan can be developed.

Good luck.
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replied October 30th, 2013
broken ribs
Did they ever feel better and then started hurting again, or just kept on hurting the whole time? I've broken ribs 3 different times now. Same symptoms: pain to touch, pain doing some things with arms, can't lie down, can't cough, can't even think about sneezing. Also got collapsed lung, several times if if I didn't take deep breaths. The phrase "can't do anything for them" is a bit of a old wives tale, there are some things to do. . . I think try to immobilize those ribs for a good 6 weeks, despite breathing, don't overdo any actions. Don't rake the lawn! Don't use hedge clippers. Sleep in recliner. I could feel the bone ends grating but didn't realize my movements were delaying the healing. Once the bone is basically healed should do more aggressive physio like working out the intercostal muscles, which stress the bone in a good way (core training, plank, abs, wide grip chin ups, etc) and I'm trying vibration therapy too (using a guitar Smile)
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replied November 6th, 2013
how to heal 3 years broken ribs bones
hi, my father got a multiple broken rib bones 3 years ago because of a long fall. he's chest always hurt, always coughing and had a hard time breathing and sleeping.. he only drinks milk, and now he cannot endure the pain.
anyone please help me , what possible medicine can he take to lessen the pain, or any herbal he can use or drink? i want my father to heal, or to just lessen his burden.
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