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Rib Contusion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

A rib contusion is a bruise on one or more of your ribs.

Rib Cage


Return to the emergency department if:

  • You have increased chest pain.
  • You have shortness of breath.
  • You start to cough up blood.
  • Your pain does not improve with pain medicine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a cough.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


You may need any of the following:

  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions. Do not give these medicines to children younger than 6 months without direction from a healthcare provider.
  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Deep breathing:

  • To help prevent pneumonia, take 10 deep breaths every hour, even when you wake up during the night. Brace your ribs with your hands or a pillow while you take deep breaths or cough. This will help decrease your pain.
  • You may need to use an incentive spirometer to help you take deeper breaths. Put the plastic piece into your mouth and take a very deep breath. Hold your breath as long as you can. Then let out your breath. Do this 10 times in a row every hour while you are awake.


Rest your ribs to decrease swelling and allow the injury to heal faster. Avoid activities that may cause more pain or damage to your ribs. As your pain decreases, begin movements slowly.


Ice helps decrease swelling and pain. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and place it on your bruised area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as directed.

Follow up with your doctor as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.