The ribs are an important part of the chest wall that protect underlying internal organs. Fractures usually occur from direct blows or from indirect crushing injuries. Simple rib fractures are not life-threatening, but can be very painful.
In young people, rib fractures may be sustained during sports or recreational activities. In adults and the elderly, they may be the result of a vehicular accident or falling from a height. However, ribs can be fractured by means other than direct trauma. Prolonged coughing, cancer or infection, osteoporosis or diseased bones can all lead to fractured ribs.
Pain from simple rib fractures can make movement and breathing difficult.
Rib fractures treated with nonsurgical methods (conservative treatment) will usually heal in 6 to 10 weeks but may be quite painful during that period. The goal of rehabilitation is to decrease pain, prevent respiratory complications and restore function.
Treatment for Rib Fractures
Physiotherapy treatment for patients with this condition is vital to hasten the healing process, ensure an optimal outcome and decrease the likelihood of injury recurrence. Treatment may comprise:
- Exercise programs to stretch, self treat and improve proprioception, balance, strength and core stability
- Biomechanical Assessment
- Joint mobilisation
- Spinal and pelvic realignment
- Dry needling /acupuncture
- Deep tissue massage/myofascial release
- Education / training advise/ phased return to exercise
- Activity modification advice
- Ice or heat treatment
- Clinical Pilates