Cracked ribs can result out of trauma to the chest area due to an accident, heavy fall or abuse. Cracked ribs are an injury frequently seen in athletes. Cracked ribs can be dislocated from their normal position and may cause damage to the organs in the chest cavity or even puncture the lungs. Cracked ribs are followed by pain and difficulty in breathing. If you have suffered a rib injury followed by these symptoms as well as tenderness in the rib area, your doctor will order a chest X-ray test. The chest X-ray can confirm the cracked rib and the doctor can suggest the treatment.
The ribs are long, thin, flat and curved bones that form a rib cage, which surrounds the organs in the upper body. There are 12 pairs of the ribs in the body. Depending on their location in the body, the ribs are divided into three categories. They are: upper ribs, middle ribs and lower ribs. The upper ribs are surrounded by the collarbone and shoulder blades, hence they cannot be easily broken. However, cracked upper ribs can rupture the aorta. The middle ribs are more likely to be cracked, which can result in perforation of the lungs. The lower ribs are also susceptible to injuries. Cracked lower ribs can severely damage the internal organs such as spleen, liver and kidneys.
Causes of Cracked Ribs
There are several possible causes of cracked ribs. One of the major causes of cracked ribs is bruising near the chest. Bruising can result from an accident, fight or impact during contact sports. Having osteoporosis increases the risk of rib fractures. Osteoporosis is manifested in a low bone density because of which bones become fragile and are easily broken. Condition known as costochondritis can also cause cracked ribs. Costochondritis represent an inflammation near the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. Pleurisy, an inflammation of the pleura (the membrane that lines the chest cavity) is another possible cause of cracked ribs. Cancerous lesions in the rib area can weaken the ribs and increase the risk of rib fractures. Also, one can get a cracked rib from a severe and prolonged cough. It can happen with bronchial pneumonia or a whooping cough.
Symptoms of Cracked Ribs
Common symptom of cracked ribs is a severe chest pain. The pain worsens with deep breathing, coughing, laughing and moving. This pain should not be ignored because it may indicate perforation of the lungs which is a dangerous condition and requires immediate treatment. Breathing problems are also a symptom of cracked ribs. Rib fracture causes trouble breathing and, consequently, fatigue, dizziness and headaches. Due to improper breathing, symptoms like anxiety and restlessness can be present too. Painful breathing can also indicate a cracked rib.