Bruised Ribs (Rib Contusion)

Bruised Ribs

Bruised ribs or a rib contusion occurs following a direct impact to the chest. This may be because of a fall or direct impact from a hard object, but the most common cause is a car accident. Chest pain and difficulty breathing are two main symptoms that can be helped with rest and ice. The injury should be assessed to confirm it is not a more serious condition.

Bruised ribs symptoms

The most obvious symptom of a bruised rib or contusion will be a sudden pain on impact. The patient may experience pain on breathing or may feel winded. Bruising can appear over the following hours and the ribs will most likely be tender to touch. Coughing or sneezing can also be painful.


Seek medical attention to rule out rib fractures and complications such as pneumothorax or collapsed lung. Rest is important to allow the tissues to heal. Applying Cold therapy can help reduce pain and swelling. Bruised ribs tend to heal by themselves in a week or two. Padding the injured area with tape can add some protection. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to ease pain and inflammation, making normal breathing more comfortable.

If the injury is painful then it is best not to continue to train or play. Body Armour or padding may be worn in contact sports to protect the area when returning to the sport but this should only be done when pain allows.