View Full Version : Question about broken ribs

09-13-2005, 01:20 AM
I just broke some of my character's ribs (I'm so cruel), and since I've never had this happen to me I'd appreciate some feedback from those who have. Would he be able to walk (slowly and carefully, with support)? If he has a punctured lung, how much medical attention would he need and how much recovery time?

Basically, I need this character to be fairly badly wounded but not incapacitated. Any suggestions would be great, thanks!

three seven
09-13-2005, 01:31 AM
I never had a problem walking with a broken rib - or at least, it didn't hurt any more than not walking. The real bastard is that, 11 years later. it still randomly breaks itself from time to time.

Haven't punctured a lung yet though.

09-13-2005, 01:33 AM
A punctured lung can be pretty serious and require fairly prompt medical attention. I have never had a punctured lung, though I've handled my share of calls that involved them. We always tried to get them to the ER as quick as possible. You never know what all is going on inside their chest whenever lungs get punctured. It is best to let the wonderful folks in the ER get them as quickly as possible so they can work their magic.

There are a few nurses around here that can probably answer recovery time better than I can.

Brady H.

09-13-2005, 01:59 AM
A punctured lung would require a chest tube to reinflate the lung until the area can heal on its own. SOME that are not related to trauma (ie stab wounds) can reinflate on their own and you might not even really notice this. (happens in kids all the time) SO you broke your cahracters ribs, if the rib punctured the lung you COULD theoreteticaly walk around with one lung delfated, however you will be in ALOT of pain and won't function long without medical attention. Not to mention the risk of bleeding into the lung which means an exit from this world. Treatment would be chest tube and maybe a week in the hospital depending on age.

09-13-2005, 09:01 AM
I was an EMT for about 13 years, and took care of a number of people w/ broken ribs. Most of them were simple fractures; a friend of mine who broke a few ribs was sent home from the hospital after an overnight observation. They used to bind the ribs (more, I think, for comfort) but they didn't do that to him. He did have a good bit of pain when he breathed. He slept in a recliner for a couple of weeks so he could breathe easier. Pain meds helped, too.

Incidentally, if you have your character also get stabbed so you have a hole from the outside that pierces the lung and deflates it, you can have him/her seal the hole with a piece of aluminum foil coated in Vaseline to create a seal.

Hope this info helps.

09-13-2005, 10:32 AM
Broken ribs hurt. Every time you breathe they move and hurt. You can't use the arm and shoulder on the side where your broken ribs are. They are a nagging misery until you darn well put your feet up and rest them enough to let them start healing.

Comfrey internally and externally helps as does strapping. I don't why it isn't done any more as a nice big padded bandage reminded you to watch yourself and kept clumsy friends at bay.

09-13-2005, 04:17 PM
Would a cracked rib be as bad? Someone really heavy fell on my main character, I need her injured but still able to move around and investigate with the help of pain killers.

Is it realistic or should I think of something else?

Thank you


09-13-2005, 04:27 PM
IMHO, I think that what you want your character to do is reasonable. My husband, come to think of it, had a "cracked" rib and he was very sore for a while, but he did okay w/ the help of some pain meds.

09-13-2005, 04:36 PM
My husband had 3 cracked ribs and he was ok other than being in excruciating pain. He still went to work and all, he was just in a LOT of pain and took pain meds only in the evenings. It took him several weeks before it didn't hurt to breathe.

Oddly enough, he also had someone heavy fall on him. One of the goofy guys he works with got drunk and decided it would be fun to wrestle in the hotel hallway. Yep. A bunch of 4 year olds.

09-13-2005, 04:43 PM
Thank you Shwebb, I thought of that because my aunt had surgery, hp replacement, and when she woke up from anaesthesia her hip was fine but she kept complaining pain on her side. She later discovered she had two cracked ribs and, to this day, we still don't know how it happened. I know it can happen during resuscitation attempts, but it was not the case. I guess they must have dropped her...

09-13-2005, 04:48 PM
There is a difference in fractured and broken. Broken is more severe. A fracture is basically a "crack" in the bone. Taping can help the person stay mobile if done appropriately. This is true about many injuries. I was a coach who had to take lots of biology, anatomy, kinesiology, care and prevention of athletic injuries, first aid, CPR, etc.

I have gotten many people to the ER and have had the doctors there brag on what I've done. I have stopped a whole lot of incorrect frist aid from happening also. Poor initial treatment can cause more damage. Poor taping can help or create worse problems. Continuing to tape too long can also hinder healing. One continual piece of tape can create improper circulation. (This can create more pain also - so maybe you can use that somehow.) Knowing how to tape specific injuries is a huge deal!

I know that any ailment with the lungs is painful. Even Pluerisy which is an inflamation of the pluera sack that surrounds the lungs is extremely painful. You can be O.K. one second and then next you are immobolized due to knife-like pain and you feel like you have to "sneek" a breath in due to the pain.

So, I don't know your storyline, but this could work for being able to use the ailment to your advantage. He could do "stuff" but then at times, he would be in too much pain. I know, this personally, as a tennis coach who has had it more than once. I could feed drills for a little bit and then be lying on the court in pain. The pain can also move around to different areas very unexpectantly.
Hope my rambling might have given you something to use.
*Also, please excuse all the errors, I'm sure you will find in spelling, etc. I was just rushing to give a few ideas and I am too lazy to proof it! LOL!

09-14-2005, 12:19 AM
Wow, thanks everyone! This is exactly what I need! So, the punctured lung is out (I didn't think it would work for what I need the character to do anyway) but with the broken ribs he'll be in horrible pain, poor guy, but can still manage to be mobile with some help.

I mentioned this plot point to my beta reader last night and he reminded me that he'd once cracked a rib from coughing one winter when he'd had bronchitis. He said it hurt about the same whether he was walking around or just resting.

09-14-2005, 05:19 PM
Late coming in, but I figured I'd post my $.02 anyways...
I fractured three ribs during my black-belt test several years ago. I was still able to move, although it hurt to do so. I also had to fight with said fractured ribs. When I got punched in that side, the pain brought me straight down to the canvas. It was difficult to get a full breath. Once the test was over, and the adrenaline wore off, it ached for a good long while. Sleeping was difficult, because shifting my body shifted the fractures. Lying on my back and breathing was even difficult. I passed the test, by the way, but it was the hardest and most painful thing I've ever gone through. Incidentally, I think part of the reason it sucked so badly was that, once they found out I was injured, all my opponents seemed to target those three ribs. Bastards...

10-03-2005, 02:01 PM
I fractured a rib last week. It is more painful than childbirth. I could hardly move for a couple of days. Walked very slowly. As mentioned above, my right arm was very weak. The pain radiated to my back. I used some aspirin the first couple of days, think I got active too fast and had a couple of days of relapse .. it got WORSE!

I tried heat, knowing better. Finally figured out yesterday the heat was making it worse, and switched to ice. Much better. Some pain relief. I don't have pain pills, but used an old muscle relaxer rx and got total freedom from pain today .. for about an hour. Lying down is almost impossible. I "slept" Saturday night sitting up. Woke up crying after two hours last night.

My neighbor got me an ace bandage type thing and strapped me up last night. I had to take it off after a few hours. I found using a bath towel and holding it tight over the affected rib, and leaving it loose on the other side helped relieve the pain. That means one hand is always occupied with holding the towel, however. I got pretty good at using my left hand because I could not lift anything, not even a glass of water with my right hand/arm. I did some research and ran across a recommendation to sling the affected arm (wilderness first aid). That helped A LOT. Took the weight of the arm off.

Also found out that the "crunchy" feeling in the rib area was "normal". Scared me at first. Leaning back a little sometimes helps. Read the usual recovery time is six to eight weeks. I used a little homeopathy, etc. and expect to recover in a shorter amount of time, but have had to cancel activities. Could not drive. The one day I tried, turning the steering wheel gave sharp pains. The pain is NOT "throbbing". It is a constant sharp pain.

My neighbor has been staying with me to reach things and open ice trays and give moral support. It has been very scary for me. Several of my friends recommended I go to ER. I was hoping not to have to, and have not so far. It gets better, then worse, ad infinitum. I'm hopeful though.

Coming in way late. Just found this site. Hi ya'll!