Rib fractures may be caused by direct force (a blow, vehicular accidents, or fall on the chest) by indirect force e.g. compression of the chest from the front and back simultaneously.
The condition is diagnosed by the following features.
- There is pain at the injured area, increased on deep breathing and coughing.
- The victim takes short and shallow breaths so that the ribs do not move and the pain.
- Crepitus is usually felt.
- There may be of internal bleeding.
- The patient may asphyxiated due to entry of air in the pleural cavity from injured lung. He may collapse.
- Air is sucked in and blown out through an open.
- There may be flail in which there is isolation of a portion of the chest wall due to multiple rib fractures. This portion moves in when the victim breathes out and moves out when the victim breathes in. This produces severe respiratory embarrassment.
- If the fracture is not complicated, apply two brood bandages round the chest. The center of the first should be below the area of pain and that of the other above it. Upper bandage should overlap the lower one by half its width. Ask the victim to breathe out fully, and then tie the knot firmly so as to support the broken rib. The knots should be tied nearer the front of the chest on the uninjured side. Support the arm on the side of injury in filing. Shift him to a hospital immediately.
- If the fracture is complicated, do not apply bandages, except in cases where air is sucked in through an open wound, in the chest. Place the patient with his head and shoulders raised, and turned towards the injured side keep the position with a blanket. Apply sling to the arm in the injured side. Shift him to a hospital immediately on a stretcher.