Rib injuries: Dealing with trauma after a crash

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2022 | Accident Injury |

One kind of injury that is common after an auto collision is a rib injury. Whether you break a single rib or multiple ribs, you could be in pain and struggle with dangerous complications.

Rib injuries often occur when the force of the seat belt tightens against the chest during a collision. Sometimes, debris inside or from outside the vehicle could cause rib injuries, too. In the case that someone is not wearing a seat belt, they could suffer rib injuries from being thrown from the vehicle or thrown around inside their vehicle.

While many rib injuries will heal on their own over time and aren’t particularly dangerous, some can come with complications that could lead to significant pain and even a risk of death.

Complications to watch out for after a car crash

There are several serious complications that can arise due to rib injuries. These may include:

  • A punctured or torn aorta
  • Lung damage, such as pneumothorax, hemothorax or surgical emphysema
  • Laceration of the spleen
  • Chest infections
  • Punctured lungs
  • Lung collapses
  • Lacerations to the liver or kidneys

As you can see from this list, there are some very serious and potentially life-threatening complications that could occur if you break your ribs in an auto collision.

Even mild and moderate rib injuries need attention

Although it may seem like mild or moderate rib injuries don’t need to be addressed if they aren’t out of place, there are still risks to assess. Broken ribs are extremely painful, and there are complications that can arise even when the breaks are minor.

When a person can’t take a deep breath or cough, there is an increased risk of developing pneumonia. In fact, around 35% of those over 65 who suffer rib fractures develop pneumonia.

After a car crash, let the emergency team know if you’re having pain in the ribs or believe you have a broken rib. A quick X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan or computerized tomography (CT) scan will give the medical team a better idea of the severity of your injuries and help them build a treatment plan to help you recover safely.