It differs depending upon the person and their situation, but a broken rib can take about six weeks to heal. Those six weeks can be tremendously painful – leaving the sufferer reeling, and feeling unable to breathe. But, even though it hurts, if you have a broken rib, it’s imperative to make mindful breathing a part of your daily life in order to recover and stay healthy.
With most broken bones, treatment is two-prong. First, the doctor will reposition the bone in place, and immobilize the area. Then, the doctor can concentrate on pain management until the cast is removed, and the patient is ready for physical therapy. However, ribs cannot be immobilized except for in extreme situations. The ribs have to be able to move, so that you can breathe. Often, people who have broken ribs begin to breathe in a shallow manner, because every single breath is felt. Breathing this way for an extended time period can lead to complications like pneumonia, which can be life threatening. It’s important to have a plan in place to control pain and breathe mindfully.
Be Honest with Your Doctor
Sometimes, it can be tempting to downplay pain. Whether you want to look tough, or simply don’t want to cause a fuss, remember that your doctor relies on you to convey the depth of your pain, so they can properly treat you. The main goal of recovering from a broken rib is pain management. You’ll still feel the damage to your body, especially in the beginning, but your doctor can provide you with medication that, when taken as recommended, can dull the pain substantially – so that breathing and moving through your life feels a bit more natural.
Keep Track of Time
Your doctor may provide you with a prescription to help you manage your pain. It’s important to take it as directed. If your doctor says to take it every six hours, take it every six hours. Do not wait until you feel pain again. The pain can create tension within your body, making it harder for you to breathe – which is one of the most important pieces to recover from a rib fracture! If you often forget what time you took a pill, or forget to take one altogether, you can use your smartphone to set alarms that will remind you when to re-medicate. Most devices come with a function that works for this, but you can also find apps with the specific purpose of medication tracking.
Set Aside Time to Breathe
Because it is so painful, you may find yourself forgetting to breathe properly if you don’t pay attention. It’s important to give yourself reminders to breathe. You can also use the alarm function on your phone for this, or set a kitchen timer that will remind you to breathe every so often. These repetitive reminders will eventually become more of a habit, and you’ll rely on them less. When you push through the pain, and allow yourself to breathe as fully as you can manage, you reduce your chances of developing pneumonia, and bring oxygen flooding through your body – a very necessary process for healing.