Your chest is made up of 12 rib bones on both sides of your body. Each rib bone attaches to the spine and comes around to the front of your chest attaching to your sternum.

What is a rib fracture?

A rib fracture is quite a common condition and describes when one of your rib bones breaks. Your rib bones make up the chest and upper back. Pain from rib fractures can make breathing and moving difficult.

What causes a rib fracture?

Rib fractures often occur following a direct injury to your ribs from a person or object or a trauma. A lot of rib fractures occur during contact sports when there is a collision with another player such as in rugby or football. Traumas such as falling from a height and car accidents can also result in rib fractures.

What are the symptoms of a rib fracture?

There are several different symptoms for a rib fracture and a people typically feel a rapid onset of chest pain, mid back pain or pain in the side of the ribs which can radiate into the back, shoulder or neck.

Pain is usually described as intense and sharp and can be worsened with coughing, laughing, sneezing or taking a deep breath.

Patients may also feel an ache in the rib area particularly first thing in the morning or at night and pain may be exacerbated by lying on the side with the fractured rib or applying pressure to the area. Bending or twisting may also make the pain worse.

How is a rib fracture diagnosed?

Your physiotherapist or doctor can carry out a full subjective and objective assessment and from the results distinguish whether it is likely you have a fractured rib. A scan such as an X-ray would be required to confirm their findings.

What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a rib fracture?

Rib fractures often do not require surgery and can be managed conservatively including physiotherapy in your treatment. Following a thorough assessment by your physiotherapist an individual treatment plan will be provided. There are several treatment options for a rib fracture and your physiotherapist will choose the best treatment options for you.

Treatment may include:

  • Advice and education
  • Rest from activities that aggravate the pain
  • Postural exercises
  • Flexibility and strengthening exercises
  • Activity modification advice and graded return to exercise
  • Taping techniques
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Electrotherapy
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Pilates

Benefit of physiotherapy for a rib fracture?

It is important to seek physiotherapy as quickly as possible to ensure a rapid recovery and proper healing. The benefits you receive from physiotherapy will be based on your symptoms and goals.

There are several benefits of physiotherapy for a rib fracture including:

  • Reduced pain
  • Quicker healing
  • Reduced likelihood of secondary problems such as poor posture and muscle weakness
  • Safe return to activities of daily living and sporting activities
  • Prevention of the injury occurring again

If you would like to book an assessment or enquire further, please call 01245 830280 or e-mail: