Things to Know When You Fall and Crack a Rib
After the ski/snow boarding season ended my grandson parked his snow board in the middle of the living room, where it stayed for weeks. I walked into the living room to adjust the shades. When I left the room I misjudged the length of the snow board bag and tripped over it.
The trip pushed me forward and I fell on the front entry tile. Afraid of injury, I stayed still for several minutes and then checked my limbs. Since I felt okay I dismissed the fall from my mind. But several days later a rib on my left side began to hurt. The pain increased and I thought I had cracked my rib, a diagnosis that was later confirmed by my doctor.
As the days passed my rib has become more painful. It hurts when I reach up to get dishes out of the kitchen cupboard. It hurts when I rise from the couch. It hurts when I turn over in bed. A "Rib Injuries" fact sheet published on the Better Health website lists the symptoms of rib injury: pain when you cough, sneeze, or laugh, muscle spasms, breathing symptoms, and a deformed appearance of the rib cage.
Now my rib has a small bulge on it, an indication that it is healing. Years ago, doctors used to tape injured ribs to hold the rib cage still. Doctors do not do this any more because it impedes breathing. According to a WebMD website article, "Fractured Rib," most cracked ribs heal on their own. Putting ice on the area, getting extra rest, and taking over-the-counter pain medication also aids healing.
My cracked rib could not have happened at a worse time. I am recovering from H1N1 flu and have a lingering cough. Every time I cough (and I still have coughing spasms) my rib hurts. Still, I am thankful that I do not have a fractured rib. Mayo Clinic details the difference between a fractured and broken rib in a website article, "Broken Ribs."
According to Mayo, "Cracked ribs aren't as potentially dangerous as ribs that have been broken into two or more pieces." The symptoms of a broken rib include pain when you take a deep breath, when you change position, or when the area is pressed. Get medical help immediately, Mayo advises, if you have pain in your shoulder or arm. This pain could be an indication of heart attack.
No doubt about it, a cracked rib slows you down. Though I do not get as much done in a day as I used to, I am glad my rib is healing. I am returning to my walking program gradually and enjoying the signs of spring. My advice to older adults and younger: Never, ever crack a rib!
Copyright 2010 by Harriet Hodgson
Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for decades. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of Health Care Journalists, and Association for Death Education and Counseling. Her 24th book, "Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief," written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from Amazon.
Centering Corporation has published her 26th book, "Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life" and a companion journal with 100 writing jump-starts. Hodgson is a monthly columnist for the new "Caregiving in America" magazine. Please visit her website and learn more about this busy author and grandmother.
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