How will your doctor diagnose you?

A dislocated rib is diagnosed by touch (palpation) on the location of the injury. The doctor will feel unevenness on the surface of the ribs, the patient will express feeling strong pain (such as twisted rib pain) followed by cracking (crepitation) and movement of the displaced rib head under more intensive pressure.

Radiology diagnosis

A suspected misaligned rib will most reliably be determined by radiography of the chest cavity in several directions, an ultrasound examination or computer topography.

It is not always easy to distinguish a dislocated from a separated rib, but it is important to diagnose properly to prevent any complications of these injuries as they can lead to more difficult injuries with serious consequences.

A radiology diagnosis will also exclude other possible injuries that could be connected with a dislocated or fractured rib.

Treatment At the hospital

Your doctor will palpate your ribcage to diagnose which of the 12 ribs were displaced, fractured, or out of place and prescribe further exams if necessary.

Once your doctor has found the popped rib, he will then carefully push it back in place.

Pain medication will also be prescribed.

Care at home – managing rib dislocation at home

Your chest area is probably wrapped with an elastic bandage, this will prevent the fixed rib from further misaligning.

  • Apply a cold compress to the area, you can either attach an ice pack to it 20 -30mins each time. do this for about 3 or 4 times a day for the next 48 hours.
  • You can also alternate between cold and hot compresses – cold compress for 24hours then hot compress for the next 24hrs.
  • If not already done, wrap the chest wall area with a chest band, you can find one at Amazon.
  • Gently massage the injured area to prevent further swelling, do this 3-4 times a day for about 15mins each time.
  • Remember to take deep breathes, even though it maybe difficult, painful to do so, this is quite important in avoiding a secondary infection such as bronchitis or pneumonia.
  • Rest on your back, better still, if possible rest on the side which is injured, this will help make sure that the lungs are working and moving properly.
  • Propping pillows on your back might be useful in reducing the pain and increasing comfort.
  • Recliner chairs have been reported by many as helpful in reducing pain when lying own.
  • When recliner chairs aren’t readily available, putting the car seat on a recline position brings about the same comfort too.
  • Rib and chest braces are highly recommended too, they’ll hold your ribs in place and facilitate undisrupted healing of the ribs.

Your meals should be a well-balanced diet and must include food that is high in protein – the extra protein will speed up recovery.

Drink lots of fluids in order to avoid stool hardening (constipation).

Managing a dislocated rib

If you or your close relatives have popped a rib then there are some measures that must be taken in order to help the dislocated bone heal properly and faster. After seeing your doctor, or chiropractor for the dislocated rib treatment, there are things you can do at home to have a less painful recovery period.

Recovering from a dislocation of the rib

Patients with a dislocated rib/rib injury usually completely recover within 4 to 6 weeks or longer in a case of a more serious injury or fracture, the recovery time could prolong for several months.

By introducing certain recovery therapy and exercises a dislocated rib recovery time can be greatly reduced.

such exercise and therapy may include

  • Special massage
  • Special exercise to target the affected area
  • PRP therapy
  • Yoga

Return to more demanding physical activities is possible quite soon (depending on the seriousness of the injury) if the patient applies protective measures to prevent repeating the injury or worsening of the current condition.

Taking care of a dislocated rib pain at home

If you’ve popped a rib, it is best to go to the nearest hospital to have to rib put back in place. The optimum time to have a displaced rib put back in place is 6 – 12hrs, so it is very important that you visit your doctor in case of a rib displacement.  There is a first aid treatment for a rib which is displaced, it involves performing a R.I.C.E first air routine. R.I.C.E stands for

  • Rest – Stop whatever you were doing when you heard a rib pop and rest, continued movement after such rib injury might cause further damage to the surrounding area and organs.
  • Ice – Next apply a pack of ice (or any other frozen item available at the moment, this will reduce/stop internal bleeding of injured/bruised blood vessels, organs, capillaries. Apply ice in the 30mins on – 15 mins off manner (hold ice on the injured area for 30mins a stretch, remove it, wait for 15mins then reapply the ice again) repeat this cycle for about 2-3hours.
  • Compress the area of the chest wall which took the blow, this will reduce swelling.
  • Elevation also helps to decrease swelling similarly to the way compression does. Lie on the bed, but use a pillow to prop yourself up from the back, in the same position you would seat while reading a book on the bed.

Possible Complications of a dislocated rib

A dislocated or separated rib can lead to different complications that can be followed by less or more difficult consequences. For example, the patient can develop an infection of poured blood on the place of injury that can lead to the abscess of the chest wall with possible blood poisoning.

Broken pieces of the rib can cause the breaking of inter-rib blood cells that can lead to deadly bleeding in the chest cavity (although this is an extremely rare case).

A dislocated or fractured rib is followed by intensive pain that often limits chest movement and limits breathing volume. Rib movements can be very extensive and can put pressure on the chest cavity, preventing lungs in inspiration (inhaling) that can cause secondary lung inflammation.

Recovering from a dislocation of the rib

Patients with a dislocated rib/rib injury usually completely recover within 4 to 6 weeks or longer in a case of a more serious injury or fracture, the recovery time could prolong for several months.

By introducing certain recovery therapy and exercises a dislocated rib recovery time can be greatly reduced.

such exercise and therapy may include

  • Special massage
  • Special exercise to target the affected area
  • PRP therapy
  • Yoga

Return to more demanding physical activities is possible quite soon (depending on the seriousness of the injury) if the patient applies protective measures to prevent repeating the injury or worsening of the current condition.

Eating to ease rib pain

If you’re fighting chronic pain, for example, chronic rib pain caused by dislocation of the rib, try these foods to find some relief

What we eat daily affects the way we feel. Certain foods have pain-reducing powers for conditions such as arthritis, bowel disease, and multiple sclerosis. The following are a few important helpful tips to help you reduce the amount of pain in your life.

Control your weight

Not only is maintaining a healthy body weight important to decrease excess strain on your body’s joints, but excess fat from being overweight also increases the body’s inflammatory response.

Eat your fruits and veggies

 A group of anti-oxidants called flavonoids shows promising results in the reduction of pain and inflammation. Here is a list of some foods notably higher in flavonoids: apples, onion, broccoli, blueberries, white grapefruit, carrots, pomegranates, lemons/limes, tomatoes, oranges, nuts, olive oil, white, green or black tea (no milk added), dark chocolate and soy. Eat at least three servings or portions of vegetables and two servings or portions of fruit per day. By one serving, is equal to 1/2 cup fruit/vegetable.

Exercise regularly

Not surprisingly, exercising regularly lowers levels of inflammation. Speak to your physician about what level and type of exercise is safe for you.

Drink plenty of water

Adequate hydration for our body is important to regulate body temperature and cushion joints. Water is important to help oxygen and nutrients flow easily to all areas in our body and to remove waste and toxins. Research shows adequate hydration reduces migraine and headache frequency.

Try an omega-3 fatty acid

We’ve all heard of the benefits of omega-3s for a healthy heart. New research shows it also reduces inflammation in arthritis and other diseases. The most beneficial omega-3 fats are DPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). They are mainly found in fish and marine sources. There is also an algae source for vegetarians and it is slowly making its way to market in supplement form.

EPA/DHA sources: 

Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, sardine, mackerel, anchovy, herring. Fortified dairy products and eggs.

To a lesser extent, ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), an omega-3 fat found in vegetarian sources, is also beneficial in reducing inflammation.

ALA Sources

Ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, fortified eggs.

Research shows an average of three grams per day of EPA/DHA is effective for easing pain and inflammation. This is equivalent to one or two servings of fatty fish per day (three ounces or 100 grams). Speak to your doctor about what is a safe amount for you. 

If you decide to take an omega-3 supplement, look for brands that contain 400 grams EPA and 200 grams DHA per capsule. Also ensure the supplement contains the government approval NPN code; a nine-digit number that ensures the safety and quality (free from mercury, lead, etc.) of the supplement.