How to treat sprained rib

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A sprained rib is caused by repeated pressure placed on the capsule of the joint where the muscles around the area becomes tensed and result to sprain in the joint. Sports players are more susceptible to this condition. Mild pressure can be easily handled by the ribs, but a very strong force can be dangerous and result to straining and can change position of the ribs such as twisting and bending of the rib cage.

Ribs are cage structure that functions in protecting the heart and the lungs from injuries. The humans have 24 ribs. They are important when breathing and the ribs moves especially when breathing.  Any injuries or damage caused on the ribs affects the lungs and the heart if not properly treated.

Symptoms of sprained rib

  • Instant and severe pain in the upper back area and cause uneasy and painful breathing. Severe pain when taking a breath.
    sprained rib
    Gradual occurrence of shoulder and upper back pain and feels like a muscle spasm.
  • Gradual occurrence of shoulder and upper back pain and feels like a muscle spasm.
  • Pain becomes severe when pressure is exerted or performing rigorous movements.
  • Swelling and tenderness around the affected ribs
  • Bruising of the skin
  • Cracking sound can be heard immediately after the injury.


  • Poor posture and sitting position such as staying in one position for hours and puts severe pressure on the rib cage and cause a sprained rib.
  • Performing heavy manual work. Constant loading of the upper back, shoulder, neck, ligaments, joints and the muscle area can result to severe inflammation.
  • Inappropriate inner garment. Prolonged use of inner garments especially in women can result to sprained rib condition. It puts plenty of pressure on the chest area.
  • Wrong sleeping position such as elevating the legs while sleeping can put plenty of pressure on the chest. Pain can be felt while changing positions after a few hours
  • Vehicular accidents or whiplash injury. It causes wearing and tearing of the muscles in the chest and affects the rib cage.
  • Arthritis or any degenerative conditions.


  • Take plenty of rest. Avoid performing any exertion to prevent making the condition worse and delay the healing.
  • Apply ice on the affected area to lessen the inflammation and the pain. Wrap ice packs or frozen bag of vegetables such as peas or corn in a towel before placing to the area for at least 10-15 minutes to prevent further damage and worsen the condition.
  • Take prescribed pain medications to lessen the inflammation and the pain.
  • Perform gentle exercises for the sprained rib with the help of the physical therapist to strengthen the rib cage.
  • Injections anesthesia and corticosteroids on the affected area to lessen the pain caused by rib sprain.
  • Mobilization therapy or electrotherapy which will depend on the severity of the condition. this therapy relaxes the tissues of the muscles.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a sprained rib is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize the signs and how it is managed, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.

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