Improving Your Posture

Rib Pain Following An Auto Accident? Whether Bone Or Muscle, A Chiropractor Can Help

Other than whiplash, broken ribs are one of the most common injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. Typically, when someone complains of chest pain in a chiropractic office following an auto accident, the chiropractor will order X-rays to determine if any ribs are separated, broken, or cracked. If the imaging doesn't show evidence of damage to the ribs, the patient may instead of what is called an intercostal injury.

However, sometimes patients are told there may be a crack that hasn't shown on the imaging and, thus, the patient will be treated as if they do have a cracked rib. Either one can be excruciatingly painful. Having both can make the smallest movements unbearable. Here's what you need to know if you are diagnosed with either or both of these conditions. 

Rib Damage vs. Intercostal Damage

The intercostal muscles are a group of muscles that are between the ribs and help form the chest wall. They are the muscles that are responsible for the mechanical aspects of breathing by helping expand and shrink the chest cavity for each breath. When these muscles or their nerves are damaged, the pain can be similar to that of a broken or cracked rib.

The main difference between these two conditions is that a broken rib can puncture a lung if the patient is not careful. Also, a slight crack in a rib could expand and break if the patient overexerts themselves or does something as simple as sneezing. Therefore, it's important to describe the pain you feel with as much detail as possible so your chiropractor will be able to determine if you have a cracked rib that is too small to be seen in X-rays. The reason for this is that it can change your treatment plan. 

Chiropractic Treatment

You may be prescribed anti-inflammatory pain medication and muscle relaxers, but chiropractic care is typically more effective for pain relief. A chiropractor can realign your rib cage by making low-impact, low-force manual adjustments. Separated and broken ribs are easier to assess and realign than cracked ribs, for obvious reasons.

For intercostal damage, your chiropractor may also recommend ice treatment, which you can do in the privacy of your home with an ice therapy machine. If there's a concern of cracked ribs or intercostal damage, your chiropractor may recommend occupational therapy or physical therapy to help you compensate for and avoid the pain of damaged ribs or intercostal muscles.

If you are seeking auto accident treatment services, start calling chiropractors in your area today.