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Julia Kizhner
Julia Kizhner, Physician Assistant
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 1126
Experience:  7 years experience working in Primary Care as well as Gastroenterology, Sleep Medicine & Weight Loss
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I have what seems to be a minor fracture in one of my middle

Resolved Question:

I have what seems to be a minor fracture in one of my middle ribs. It's only moderately painful. The reason I think it's a fracture is that it hurts when my rib-cage moves. It hurts to inhale deeply, and it hurts if I press-in on my sternum or on the non-injured side of my chest. Sneezing is terribly painful. I've also started to experience some pain in my back opposite the injury when I wake-up in the morning (I'm not sure what this means.)
It was a fencing injury. Another athlete ran into me while my weapon was between us, forcing my weapon (which is made of steal) to impact with my chest. There's just a little bit of bruising visible on the outside.
I'm looking for some general advice on what I should do to encourage healing, and particularly what I should not do to avoid further injury. One of the reasons I'm asking is because I'm registered to compete in a fencing tournament this weekend and I'm not sure if I should skip it due to the rib injury. Besides competing, I'm also curious about what kinds of exercises in general should be avoided to a prevent aggravation of the injury.
I know it would be helpful to have an X-ray for this kind of thing, but I've not been able to find a doctor who will see me under such short notice. So I'll have to make the decision to compete or not before seeing a doctor or getting an X-ray.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Health
Expert:  Julia Kizhner replied 6 years ago.

Hello and thank you for your question,

If you, indeed, have a fractured rib, there is nothing you can do to make it heal faster. You can use anti-inflammatory medications (Advil, Aleve) or Tylenol for pain control and use ice to decrease swelling and inflammation but your body will need several weeks before the fracture is healed. If you do have a fracture, I would strongly urge you not to compete. In case you get re-injured in the same area where there is a fracture, the new injury may cause dislocation of the fracture and your rib may cause a hole in your lung (called pneumothorax).

If you have a bad sprain of your ribcage, the healing process can be sped up with icing and using anti-inflammatory medications, however, it will still take 1-2 weeks to really work. Technically it is safe to compete with just a sprain but be aware, that any re-injury to the area will prolong the healing time.

It is not possible to tell you if there is a fracture or not without getting an x-ray but based on your symptoms, there probably is a fracture so for safety reasons, I would not recommend that you be competing this weekend.

I hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to follow-up with any other questions you might have.

If you are satisfied with the answer, please do click 'Accept' button so that I may get credit for my work.

Best wishes and good luck,


Julia Kizhner and 4 other Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for the answer. Assuming that it is a fracture, should I be limiting other kinds of exercise? Are things like running and strength training likely to increase the healing time?

I would hate to have to stop moving altogether while it's healing.
Expert:  Julia Kizhner replied 6 years ago.

The only exercises that you should really limit are the ones that have high impact probability (in case you have a fracture, high impact exercise can make the fracture dislocate and cause pneumothorax).

If you have a sprain, you should probably avoid exercises that involve a lot of movement of your upper body (weight lifting, pushing, pulling) to allow the muscles to heal. You should have no problems exercising your lower body (which includes walking, jogging, lower-body weight lifting). Even if you have a fracture, you can continue lower-body exercises. If you jog or run, you may have more pain in your rib cage but it should not cause any additional injury.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

If I answered your questions, please click 'Accept' button.

Best wishes and good luck,


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Okay, thanks for the advice.