Bruised or broken ribs can be very painful but usually heal by themselves.
Check if you have a bruised or broken rib
Broken (fractured) or bruised ribs are usually caused by a fall, a blow to the chest or severe coughing.
- strong pain in your chest area, particularly when you breathe in
- swelling or tenderness around the affected ribs
- sometimes bruising on the skin
- feeling or hearing a crack if it’s a broken rib
Ribs can’t be easily splinted or supported like other bones, so they’re usually left to heal naturally. There’s often no need for an X-ray.
Things you can do yourself
Broken or bruised ribs heal in the same way and usually get better by themselves within 3 to 6 weeks.
There are some things you can do to help ease pain and speed up healing:
See a GP or go to a minor injuries unit if your pain hasn’t improved within a few weeks
The doctor can prescribe stronger painkillers if necessary or refer you to hospital if you need further treatment.