Basic First Aid : How to Treat a Rib Fracture

You know, blunt force trauma to the chest
area can create significant problems for people. I am Captain Joe Bruni, and what I’m going
to talk about is how to treat the suspected rib fracture. Individuals who have a rib fracture
may be guarding the area and experiencing pain when they breathe. These are signs and
symptoms after blunt force trauma to the chest has occurred that a rib fracture may have
occurred in the individual. Taking something like ice or commercially-bought cold pack
and applying it to the rib area to reduce swelling and pain for 10 to 15 minutes will
help to alleviate some of that pain that they’re feeling from a rib fracture. After 10 to 15
minutes, remove the cold compress and make something like a grocery bag filled with clothing
or other material like soft rags that can be placed up against the chest area where
the injury has occurred, and then taking some type of elastic bandage and wrapping around
that individual to hold that in place. Also, what may be necessary or what may help, if
you have it available, is to take some type of adhesive tape or medical tape and tape
that suspected area under the skin from breastbone around the side to the spine. Place several
pieces of tape and layer it across the injury site area. And then place the bag in that
location and apply a pressure bandage or have the person hold it in place if necessary.
This will help to reduce pain and increase their breathing rate back to a normal level.
Rib fractures can be a pretty painful experience, but helping to reduce that pain and swelling
is the first step while en route to the emergency department for x-rays and evaluation. I’m
Captain Joe Bruni. Stay safe, and we’ll see you next time.


  1. If you have to ask if you have to go to the hospital — GO TO THE HOSPITAL! Come on, at LEAST call the Ask a Nurse line! Wouldn't you rather be told you didn't need to have gone to the hospital than find out you should have when you didn't? It's not always possible to tell if you've broken or fractured a bone. That's why (say it with me) we have x-rays! And trained medical staff!

    BTW, this video was extremely helpful! I haven't had to deal with this kind of injury, but I was looking for info.

  2. thank you so much good video, however be careful cause he looks like he wants to punch you and you may end up with what a RIB FRACTURE

  3. why dont you actually show us instead of telling us because one day we might need to actually do this to a person

  4. probably useing that amazeing mustache…. seriously, at least a few people have died from that powerful stache

  5. Very helpful, I have multiple fractures and the hospital did nothing but give me strong pain killers. This is what I wanted from the beginning. Thanks again, youre a lifesaver 

  6. Nonsense. There is no cure for this only time and common sense.
    Do not use a pressure compound dressing as this can cause problems.
    Best thing to do is do deep breathing exercises along with pain killing drugs.
    The deep breathing helps the lungs to fully inflate as shallow breathing with this condition causes chest infections.

  7. Pressure bandages should never be used as it does not allow the lungs to fully expand, causing risk of pneumonia. Deep breathing exercises are essential and helps with recovery… Taking NSAIDs and applying cool compresses and alternating with warm compresses are good for pain management. Time is the only cure for a rib fracture… ER nurse here

  8. A PT suggested to "NOT" use compressed bandages.
    Why do you suggest this?
    Still an awesome video. Thanks a lot.

  9. So something like frozen peas ice packs and or commercial frozen packs are good for pain.

    And the strongest painkillers you can find that isn't morphine fentanyl and or heroin!

    Got It If you see some of your parents of grandparents tramadol or codeine lying around I guess one wouldn't hurt while you wait for a ambulance to arrive.

  10. Last week I broke two ribs (#5-#6, left side) caused by a bicycle crash. I can't describe how painful it was, the worst pain in my life. I am taking prescribed pain relievers and muscle relaxer but moving certain ways like laying down on a bed is still painful. The doctor at the ER said it would take 6-8 weeks to heal. Each rib is now in two pieces. Here is what I learned.

    For this type of injury, always go to the ER. You need an x-ray and a CT scan to really assess the damage. (I also needed x-rays for my knee, elbow and shoulder, all negative.)

    You need to see if any damage was done to your internal organs—spleen, liver, lungs, pancreas, etc.

    The doctor said that if I had more than two ribs broken, he would have sent me to the blunt force trauma center and I would have been in the hospital for a while.

    The doctor said that there is no cure except time—no bandages or ice packs. He read the x-rays and concluded that they would reattach over time because of how they were broken.

    I find that sitting up/down and laying up/down causes the most pain. If I am comfortable I feel no pain at all. But if I move, a debilitating pain may kick in. So I move slowly. But the best thing for me is to hold my left arm (the side of the breaks) tightly against my side (as if in a sling) and clutch it into my ribs. It doesn't hurt and keeps the pain to a minimum.

    Lastly, check my breathing. I was given a machine that I inhale into and it measures my lung capacity. I do this about 6 times every 6 or so hours. If I can't register above a marked point, it's back to the ER.

    I hope this helps.

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