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Rib Contusion


A rib contusion is a bruise to one or more rib bones. It may cause pain, tenderness, swelling and a purplish discoloration. There may be a sharp pain with each breath. A rib contusion takes a few days, to a few weeks to heal.


A small crack (fracture) in the rib may cause the same symptoms as a rib contusion. The small crack may not be seen on a chest x-ray. However, the treatment of these two conditions are the same.

Home Care:

  • Rest. You should not be doing any heavy lifting or strenuous exertion, or any activity that causes pain.

  • Apply an ice pack (ice cubes in a plastic bag, wrapped in a towel) over the injured area for 20 minutes every 1-2 hours the first day. Continue with ice packs 3-4 times a day for the next two days, then as needed for the relief of pain and swelling.

  • You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. [NOTE: If you have chronic liver or kidney disease or ever had a stomach ulcer or GI bleeding, talk with your doctor before using these medicines.]

Follow Up

with your doctor during the next week or as directed.

Get Prompt Medical Attention

if any of the following occur:

  • Shortness of breath

  • Increasing chest pain with breathing or congested cough

  • Dizziness, weakness or fainting

  • New or worsening of abdominal pain

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38ºC) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider


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