Car accidents can cause a strain, bruise, or fracture of the bone, muscles or cartilage in the rib cage.
There are various types of rib injuries that can result from car accidents, and one fairly common one is caused when the force of the impact pushes the driver or passenger into their seat belt at a high speed. This causes the rib area to get compressed against the seatbelt, which can lead to a serious injury.
The rib consists of 24 curved bones that are arranged into 12 pairs. It is designed to protect the internal organs such as the lungs and heart. Although most rib injuries are non-life-threatening, they can cause intense pain and may prevent the person from performing regular tasks. Rib injuries can be diagnosed using imaging tests such as X-Ray and MRI scan.
These injuries can be classified into three main categories including:
Rib fracture: Even though ribs are made of strong bones and due to their design they are hard to break, if significant force is applied against the bone it can cause a fracture. Rib fracture can occur in high impact frontal or rear end collisions.
Soft tissue injuries: An auto accident can cause various soft tissue injuries in ribs including:
- Bruising: Blood vessels get ruptured and bleed into the surrounding tissue area
- Costochondral separation: It is a serious type of injury in which the rib itself gets separated from the costal cartilage that connects ribs to the sternum
- Intercostal strains: These injuries prevent rib cage from flexing and twisting causing intense pain and discomfort to the patient
Flail chest injury: It is the most serious of all chest injuries and occurs when 3 or more ribs are broken at 2 or more places. These injuries are a result of blunt force trauma.
Symptoms of Rib Injuries
While some rib injuries can show immediate symptoms, there are others that don’t surface until 1-3 days after the accident. Many rib injuries are hard to diagnose as they cause pain and discomfort in both the rear and front of the torso area and many patients mistake the symptoms for kidney stones or heart problems. Some common symptoms of rib injuries include:
- pain when the ribs flex or move
- feeling a grinding sensation
- discomfort at the site of injury
- a “tight” feeling in the chest area
- feeling a bubbling sensation in the chest area
- difficulty breathing
Irrespective of the type of rib injury and seriousness of the symptoms, the victim should seek immediate medical attention, because any delay could complicate the injury and necessitate extensive treatment.
Treatment for Rib Injuries
Treatment of rib injuries is based on the type and seriousness of injury. Unlike other fractures, doctors cannot simple put a cast on rib fractures. So, the ribs generally have to heal on their own, and the doctors can just prescribe pain killers to ease the patient’s discomfort. Some common treatment options used are ice treatment, bed rest, pain killers, anti-inflammatory medication, and no lifting. In severe cases, the patient may be put on respiratory devices.
Do I Really Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
Rib injuries can be extremely painful and may take a long time to heal. It is important to seek appropriate compensation for medical expenses, wage loss, and pain and suffering with the help of a competent Chicago personal injury attorney.