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"Could an untreated broken rib cause long term health issues?"


Fell hard over the winter and I think I cracked a rib. Never went to the doc - no insurance! Now my rib kind of aches. I'm worried it will get worse. Because I didn't get it treated, will not getting it looked at make it sore for the rest of my life?


Sorry to hear that you fell and hurt yourself so badly! Cracked ribs can be a serious problem. Even if they are not cracked, they may be significantly bruised, which can cause many of the same symptoms, such as trouble taking a deep breath and pain in the chest. It may take weeks to months for the pain and inflammation from an injury to the ribs to resolve completely.

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In some cases, the pain may not be gone even after several months. This is because, occasionally, the nerve that runs behind the ribs may be stretched, bruised, or otherwise damaged. This can lead to persistent nerve related pain in the area, which can be very difficult to treat. If common pain killers are not working for you, or if you feel that the pain is getting worse, then unfortunately there is not much that you can do for the problem on your own. This condition, when persistent, does usually require evaluation by a doctor to help get to the bottom of the cause of the persistent pain and to determine whether any treatment might be effective in clearing up the problem. Good luck with this, and I hope you get in to see a primary care doctor soon!

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