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Chest injuries

Fractured rib
Fractured ribs are common, especially in contact sports. They can occur after a direct blow with a blunt object, such as the handle of a stick, or as a result of forceful compression of the chest during a hard body tackle, as in rugby or ice hockey.

Symptoms and diagnosis
– Pain is felt over the fracture area, especially when breathing deeply, coughing or sneezing.
– Tenderness and swelling occur over the fracture area.
– Compression of the whole chest causes pain over the fracture area.
– An X-ray of the chest confirms the injury and excludes underlying lung damage.

Fractured ribs generally do not require any treatment other than pain relief; they heal spontaneously.Binding or strapping is discouraged as it prevents complete expansion of the lungs. Very occasionally, if several ribs are fractured and there is a possibility of interference with normal respiration, the injured person may be admitted to hospital for observation .

Healing and complications
In cases of a fracture without complications the injured athlete can resume sport as soon as symptoms allow.Occasionally the sharp end of a fractured rib can puncture the lung and cause leakage of air (pneumothorax) or bleeding (hemothorax) into the pleural sac surrounding the lung. Increasing breathing difficulties should arouse suspicion that one of these complications has occurred. If it has, treatment will include draining the pleural cavity by means of a tube inserted through the chest wall.

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