Q. Last week I was wrestling and hurt my ribs. It is sore to the touch and hurts worse when I take a deep breath or laugh. I rested it for a few days but when I went back to wrestle, it hurt worse and I had to stop. How long does it take for injured ribs to heal and is there anything I can do to get better faster?
A. Rib injuries are common in contact sports such as wrestling and football. Your possible diagnosis includes a rib fracture, a rib bruise or injury to the rib muscles. I recommend you see an orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation. If an X-ray shows a rib fracture it usually takes four weeks of rest for the rib(s) to heal. A muscle strain or bruise may respond to anti-inflammatory medicine and some physical therapy to get you back sooner.
If you do have a fractured rib you should not wrestle as further trauma could result in injury to your lung or other vital organs. Previous treatments such as a rib belt or rib taping are contraindicated as these can impair breathing and lead to respiratory compromise.
Dr. Harlan Selesnick is team physician of the Miami Heat and director of Miami Sports Medicine Fellowship, Doctors Hospital. Send your questions to HarlanS@baptisthealth.net.