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Rib cartilage injury is a term that refers to any kind of injury which causes only damage to the rib cartilage and never leads to rib fracture. In majority of cases rib cartilage injury is a consequence of blunt chest trauma.

The human rib cage comprises bones (the breast bone, ribs and vertebrae), muscles and their tendons and ligaments. This part of the body supports the human skeleton and is of vital importance for all the organs located inside the chest (the heart, lungs and large blood vessels). As for the ribs, the first 7 pairs are attached to the breast bone by the costal cartilage and the rest 5 pairs are attached to the true ribs also by the costal cartilage. On the other side, all ribs are at the back connected with the vertebral column.

What Causes Rib Cartilage Injury?

It is estimated that many people end up with rib cartilage injury due to a physical assault. Any kind of severe blow to the chest may result in rib cartilage injury. This happens during fights, impact of direct hit of a hard and heavy object and it is common for high-speed collisions or motor vehicle accidents.

Furthermore, athletes who perform repetitive swinging of their arms and do this with considerable force or perform such movements in a sudden jerky way are also at risk for rib cartilage injury.

Crash injuries are quite serious and result from a fall of a heavy object directly on some part of the body. This can happen to the chest and induce rib cartilage injury.

And finally, any kind of inflammation of the costal cartilage may be an introduction to further damage and makes the cartilage more susceptible to any kind of further injury.

Rib Cartilage Injury Symptoms

Injury to rib cartilage is accompanied by its inflammation, swelling of the nearby tissues, pain at the injured site and bruising above the affected rib cartilage. Pain occurs spontaneously or only while moving. But since the rib cage actually never stands still (while we breathe the ribs move in order to allow sufficient space for the lungs to expand), therefore, the pain is inevitably present all the time.

Rib Cartilage Injury Treatment

Pain and swelling associated with rib cartilage injury are brought under control with different pain relieving medications. Patients are advised to stay in bed for a few days to recover completely. Depending on the severity of the injury and its underlying cause some of them may even be hospitalized. One should abstain from any kind of strenuous physical activity until the injury completely heals. This particularly refers to athletes. The recovery never lasts long and, fortunately, there is no permanent damage to the affected tissues.

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