Insurance companies try to settle accident cases with a broken rib injury for only $3000-$4000 per broken rib. They argue that broken ribs heal in a few weeks with no future pain to compensate you for. But if you’re still suffering from pain more than two months after you broke one or more ribs, you know that’s not true. Don’t let the insurance company bamboozle you.
Broken Ribs Can Cause Many Other Symptoms
A broken rib is one of the most painful injuries with residual pain which can go on for years. Additionally, broken ribs may cause other injuries and painful consequences including:
- Chronic pain
- Trapped nerves
- RSD a/k/a Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex regional pain syndrome
- Breathing problems
- Malunion or misalignment of the healed ribs
- Neck pain (Cervical spine)
- Shoulder pain
- Mid back pain (Thoracic spine)
- Low back pain (Lumbar spine)
Why Do Broken Ribs Cause Pain for Years and Other Symptoms?
You thought a fractured rib was a minor injury that would heal in 4-6 weeks. Even your doctor may have thought that your broken rib would heal quickly. If you had an accident, the defense insurance company certainly thinks your injury is nearly worthless. But many people continue to suffer pain from broken ribs for years. This will explain why you continue to have pain from broken ribs.
A rib is broken because of trauma to the bone. This causes bleeding and an inflammatory response to heal the fractured ribs. As the fracture heals, fibrous scar tissue formations are created.
Nerves become stimulated when trapped in the scar tissue formations or when rubbing against scar tissue. Pain will be experienced in the shoulder, neck or other areas and in the lower thoracic ribcage because the nerves in these areas are being stimulated. This leaves the patient not only in pain but with limited motion in the affected areas. In turn, limited motion results in further problems.
Because scar tissue doesn’t go away and is permanent, the pain caused by stimulated nerves can last forever, even though the broken ribs have healed.
Besides just living with the pain, physical therapy and exercise can help. After seeing a physical therapist and learning what to do at home, you can continue therapy and exercise which may have to be forever. Exercise is good for you anyway.
A physical therapist gives his explanation why broken ribs are so painful and cause additional injuries.
NIH study – Prolonged pain and disability are common after rib fractures. The study found that rib fractures causing prolonged pain and disability may be underappreciated and undertreated because clinicians are traditionally taught that the pain and disability of rib fractures resolves in 6 to 8 weeks.
Another NIH study found rib fractures and instability of the chest wall are the main lesions of closed chest trauma causing chronic, disabling pain and daily discomfort resulting limitation of some activities. The study confirmed the persistence of chronic pain, sometimes lasting several years after suffering a broken rib.
If you still experience pain from broken ribs more than two months after your accident, this doctor at the University of Utah says you may need surgery.
Experience a Broken Rib
Surgery for Fractured Ribs
Read an in-depth discussion about Surgical fixation of rib fractures
Rib plating is a method of applying rib plates similar to using a plate and screws for other broken bones. If an injured person has flail chest or three or more broken and displaced ribs causing additional problems such as a hemo-pneumothorax or a pneumothorax, rib plating may be a good option which can speed recovery and prevent future problems.
Video explanation of rib plating – How it is done and when it is appropriate
Pilates Rehabilitation for Broken Ribs after Healing
Have a Lawsuit and Don’t Want to Get Surgery for Your Broken Rib? Here’s What to Do
If you are reluctant to get surgery but still experience pain from your broken rib caused by an accident for which you are being represented by an attorney in a lawsuit, you should continue to see your doctor until your case is settled or goes to trial.
Although your doctor may not be able to do anything for you without surgery, every time you visit the doctor, he or she will record in your medical records that you came in complaining of pain. That medical record is the evidence needed to get you serious money for your broken rib lawsuit.