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View Full Version : Cracked rib - how does it feel?



Gray Rose
05-11-2008, 11:51 PM
I know, a weird question, but my MC just cracked one of his ribs (no, it didn't enter the lung). I'd like to know what he feels... Thanks!

Appalachian Writer
05-12-2008, 12:21 AM
I cracked a rib when I fell against a marble window sill. I could walk, slowly, quick movement from side to side set off the pain. I couldn't cough without a serious ouch! Sleeping was the worst. You certainly can't toss and turn, you can't lay on your back or stomach, and you can't lay on the side with the broken rib. You can't reach up or move around to adjust yourself in a chair without feeling a sharp stabbing pain in the area of the break. Deep breaths are out too, unless you're tougher than I was. In about four weeks, I felt better with just some slight tenderness in the area.

HeronW
05-12-2008, 12:23 AM
It f*cking hurts to breathe, lying down is interesting, so is moving in general. Having some one hug you or the dog jumping on you can elict colorful curses. Any heavy lifting or exercise should be stopped until it heals: 3-4 weeks depending on the length of the fracture--across the rib or along the rib. A wide full body ace bandage can help support the chest while it heals.

Linda Adams
05-12-2008, 12:51 AM
I knew a sergeant in the army who cracked one while playing basketball. He didn't know it until he got home, took shower, and tried to bend over to pick up the soap he'd just dropped. He slept sitting up for a month.

Tsu Dho Nimh
05-12-2008, 03:20 AM
Laughing ... it's the worst.

Misery ... 3-4 weeks of misery. It's not excrucuating pain, it's just constant mid-level pain with flashes of extreme if yu sneeze of cough, you can never get comfortable, your sleep is poor, and the drugs don't help nearly enough.

Siddow
05-12-2008, 03:29 AM
Yeah, sneezing, laughing, coughing, gasping...ouch. And the pain lasts a lot longer than you'd think. With my first one, I was in not-serious pain for about two months, but the second time, it lasted more like six. I think it was the difference in the fracture. Even taking a deep breath hurt.

It kinda feels like someone sticking a fork between your ribs. From the inside. And they just filed down the tines into nice sharp points.

Ziljon
05-12-2008, 03:40 AM
I know, a weird question, but my MC just cracked one of his ribs (no, it didn't enter the lung). I'd like to know what he feels... Thanks!
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/2d/STDaggerMind.jpg

pdr
05-12-2008, 04:43 AM
with everyone. You have to move your ribs to breath and that's why you have a constant nagging pain which is exacerbated by everything you do. It's a constant misery flaring into a painful one when you move aorund too much.

Sneezing is definitely the worst thing to do with laughing a close second.
And everyone else thinks a cracked rib is hilarious!

Mumut
05-12-2008, 04:44 AM
The first time I broke mine was playing rugby in someone's living room with one of his shoes crammed full of bananas (for weight). I didn't know I'd done it until next morning when I went out to chop firewood - I didn't chop the firewood! To prove it was a broken rib, the doctor suddenly squeezed my sides in - that's the nearest I've been to hitting a doctor.

The break was bad enough but twenty years later I had to have the end of the fragmented rib surgically removed. That was super painful. I don't recommend that to anyone. Made the original break seem like a walk in the park.

lakotagirl
05-12-2008, 05:36 PM
I broke four ribs falling (flying) off my horse last year. At first I tried to convince myself that I had the wind knocked out of me. It was the beginning of summer and if I had broken ribs, I would put a damper on summer plans...



1) The pain is absolutely incredible

2) Don't lay down on the couch hoping to ease the pain.
You can't breath and you can't get back up.

3) 4 weeks of sleeping on the couch - sitting up with pillows piled around you.

4) Sneezing and coughing are hell. I learned to sneeze a big 'let it all out' "AHCHOO" instead of the dainty little "KNESH" I had used all my life. I have so much fun with that "ACHOO" that I still use it. It scares little kids. ;)

5) Pain pills help - a little. However --

6) If pain pills make you puke, you cannot hug the toilet. I spent a whole day in the laundry room puking into the sink while hubby got the doctor to prescribe another pain pill.

7) The pain is incredible

8) Even after the ribs heal, plan on them hurting for many months.

9) Did I tell you the pain is incredible?

WriteKnight
05-12-2008, 05:49 PM
Look at my avatar.


Yeah, ditto what everyone else has said.



ouch.

Soccer Mom
05-12-2008, 05:50 PM
Add me to the list who say that it's one of the worst pains I've ever endured. Every breath hurts and a sneeze or cough was like a sudden blinding stab in the side. Pain pills take the edge off, but nothing stops the pain. This goes on my top five most painful things I've ever done and I'd have to say it tops C-Section and broken foot by a mile. The only broken bone that has ever hurt that much was my collar bone (and it was a compound fracture.)

ETA: And yes, another equestrian here. DOn't do horses, kids. :D NOt unless you're tough.

dolores haze
05-12-2008, 06:21 PM
I got my ribs cracked by a drunken rugby player.

I hurt so bad. I couldn't get a good night's sleep. I couldn't laugh. I had a respiratory infection at the time and all that coughing was sheer agony.

And to top it off the bloody doctor said that painkillers wouldn't help, so he wouldn't prescribe me any.

Kathie Freeman
05-12-2008, 07:34 PM
Broken or just cracked? I've had cracked ribs several times, moderately painful for about 4-5 weeks, but not extreme. I'd expect the extremely painful ones are broken, not just cracked.

lakotagirl
05-12-2008, 08:58 PM
Broken or just cracked? I've had cracked ribs several times, moderately painful for about 4-5 weeks, but not extreme. I'd expect the extremely painful ones are broken, not just cracked.

You are right. I cracked a couple ribs a couple years ago. They hurt. It hurt to cough, sneeze, get hugged. But you could still function.

And - dolores haze - I think I would have stormed that doctor's office and taken the pain pills by force. Or found another doctor. I could not have survived without pain pills for a couple weeks. (I even had him perscribe me an extra couple weeks because I had two road trips planned. - No, I wasn't driving, but 1600 miles without pain pills just wasn't in the cards.)

Mike Martyn
05-12-2008, 08:59 PM
Broken or just cracked? I've had cracked ribs several times, moderately painful for about 4-5 weeks, but not extreme. I'd expect the extremely painful ones are broken, not just cracked.

You're right , the brokens ones are worse.

Personlly I've never broken my ribs. Other people have broken them for me at full contact martial arts tournaments.

After the first few, I stopped going to the doctor since they can't do any thing for them. Initially it isn't too bad and I've gone an extra round with a couple of busted ribs, favouring that side of course. Adrenalin is amazing that way.

However, your intercosta (sp?)muscles, which overlie your ribs tend to swell shortly after you break them. It's sort of like nature's splint which is fine if they're just cracked since it keeps them in alignment.

However if they're broken, the swelling may pull them out of alignment in which case, the rib may heal off center.

The very worst pain (except getting a broken nose set) I ever experienced was due to this. About two months after the event, I got out of bed, twisted funny and the rib broke again at the partialy healed section. It's like a knife twisting inside you.

WriteKnight
05-12-2008, 09:06 PM
Gray Rose,

So it seems the important elements to apply to your MC are these.

It hurts. A lot.

It hurts to laugh, cough, sneeze, or otherwise 'grunt and strain' (yeah).

It's hard to find a comfortable position to lay, so sleeping is difficult.

Depending on which rib is cracked, particular movements will cause it to hurt even more. (Lifting the arm on that side, turning, twisting, bending.)

Depending on the severity of the injury, figure these pains will last at LEAST a month, probably closer to two. (Certainly true in my cases.)

About the only practical thing to do is 'support' it by wrapping the chest - though this is only mildly helpful.

And yes, you can continue to function for the most part, simply by enduring the pain.

And did we mention that it hurts? A lot?

Mike Martyn
05-12-2008, 09:50 PM
One other thing. Since it hurts to breathe, you tend to take very shallow breaths. After a few days, you get a bit of fluid build up in your lungs. The body's natural response to fluid build up is to cough.

You feel a cough coming on and you try to suppress it and when the inevitable happpens, oh my God!

Mike Martyn
05-12-2008, 09:51 PM
Yeah, Writh Knight, two months was what it took to heal in my various cases.

Summonere
05-12-2008, 11:25 PM
About the only thing I haven't seen yet is this: healed-up ribs being lumpy. Mine are, anyway. One side feels like I have a piece of gravel stuck under the skin. Probably means I should have seen a doctor about that...

Mike Martyn
05-13-2008, 12:49 AM
You're right. In my x-rays they show up as lumpy so much so that I had a doctor ask me when I was in the car accident. They're all on the left side too. Eventually I learned to block on the left :)

oneblindmouse
05-13-2008, 01:11 AM
I, too, have a lumpy rib where I broke it thirty years ago skinny dipping in the Caribbean. And, yes, it hurt like hell to breathe, and cough, and laugh. But I don't remember taking any painkillers. Just lots of rum!!!!!!!

Rabe
05-16-2008, 08:48 AM
I got *lucky* wherein I broke *and* cracked ribs in a car accident.
So I'm not sure which part was worse. I still have an odd shaped lump wherein I broke one rib - also got a punctured lung from the broken rib and the other lung 'bruised' from where it was cracked.

Also fractured a pelvis so had to be on crutches for six weeks. Imagine the fun that had to be! Let's see...

Lying, standing, sitting, breathing, moving, sleeping, bathing, putting on clothes, et al - hurt like hell. More than anything else I had going on at the time (fractured pelvis, deep tissue contusions, etc) and lasted a lot longer than anything else. Even months later moving a certain way caused pain.

Even now, going on two years later, I still get a twinge when I move a certain way.

I don't know about the 'wrapping' thing because I never did it - outside of wearing some undershirts (underarmor style) but that was mostly to keep from chafing on the crutches.

So, it's not fun and it *would* certainly limit your character's pain free activities.

Rabe...

Elaine Margarett
05-16-2008, 03:18 PM
I broke four ribs in a car accident. It was from the seatbelt. I was wearing an underwire bra and the seatbelt retracting caused the wire to slice through my ribs like a knife. Like someone else mentioned, at first I thought the wind was knocked out of me and the initial x-rays didn't show anything since the ribs go back in place. It wasn't until I had them re-xrayed three weeks later 'cause I was still in so much pain that the xrays showed where the ribs were starting to heal and that they were, indeed, broken.

I slept upright on our couch for 3 months, slept upright in bed for another month. Laying down is the worse, although one time I moved wrong and I could actually feel my ribs seperate and scrape togther again. I almost passed out from the pain!

HTH,
EM

lakotagirl
05-16-2008, 04:58 PM
I broke four ribs in a car accident. It was from the seatbelt. I was wearing an underwire bra and the seatbelt retracting caused the wire to slice through my ribs like a knife. Like someone else mentioned, at first I thought the wind was knocked out of me and the initial x-rays didn't show anything since the ribs go back in place. It wasn't until I had them re-xrayed three weeks later 'cause I was still in so much pain that the xrays showed where the ribs were starting to heal and that they were, indeed, broken.

I slept upright on our couch for 3 months, slept upright in bed for another month. Laying down is the worse, although one time I moved wrong and I could actually feel my ribs seperate and scrape togther again. I almost passed out from the pain!

HTH,
EM

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

BrynnaC
05-16-2008, 10:00 PM
My husband cracked three ribs, and tore his aorta in a car wreck. Even out of the hospital every tiny smidge of movement was sheer agony, like hot swords in the belly. If we had to go anywhere I had to drive like five miles an hour just for him to be to stand the pain. This was beyond the medication. Maybe it hurts worse if you have more than one. He also said it felt like they were constantly moving. He could barely breathe unless sitting up with pillows.
I'm not sure how long it took for them to heal. The doctors actually ignored his ribs for the life threatening injuries, but it was about 3 months before he quit complaining loudly about them.

Rabe
05-19-2008, 06:28 AM
That's the way it was with me as well.

I haven't seen a single document that talks about treating the rib injuries.

But I've got lots of them that talk about the lungs, pelvis, acute severe cardiopulmonary edema and tracheostomy that they did treated/did.

I was only aware I had rib injuries to begin with because I knew I had punctured the lung with one at one of them.

Rabe...

Elaine Margarett
05-19-2008, 03:51 PM
FWIW...

I'm using a broken rib (or two) in my mystery. I need my MC hurt bad enough she can't fight back; but not hurt so bad she isn't mobile. The bad guy punches her in her side deliberately to subdue her, but he needs her to walk. I figured since I walked (sloowly) with 4 broken ribs; she can walk with two.

Were you planning something similar with your character?