Rib fractures are not uncommon. They do, however, often cause significant pain and put a damper on everyday activity. Surgery is rarely required, and while it may take several months to heal completely, the pain should gradually disappear after a few days. Unfortunately, there is no "quick fix" for broken ribs. It takes approximately four to six weeks to achieve enough healing for the fracture to become stable. A "rib belt" or similar strapping around the chest may help with the pain.


  • Pain in rib area and very sore to touch.
  • Normal activity causes rib area to feel uncomfortable and sore.
  • Swelling and bruising over fractured site.
  • Rib pain with heavy breathing or coughing.


  • See your physician.
  • Mild pain medication is often prescribed.
  • Restrict activity so that all activities feel comfortable.
  • Breathe normally and do not smoke.
  • Rest as much as you can.
  • Ice the area lightly three to four times per day (10 to 30 minutes).

Reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional.

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