What is a Rib Separation?

What is a Rib Separation?

A rib separation is a serious injury that could result in damage to the body’s vital organs. If an individual is involved in a serious car accident, it could result in a blow to the chest. This could come from a collision with the steering wheel, dashboard, or center console. When this happens, the ribs could be seriously injured. The ribs serve several important functions. These include:

  • Protecting many of the body’s vital organs such as the heart, lungs, esophagus, trachea, and aorta
  • Guarding some of the body’s most important nerves and blood vessels from injury
  • Joining the spine and the sternum
  • Providing structure to the muscles, skin, and other bodily tissues

One of the rib injuries that an individual could suffer is a separated rib. What is a rib separation and how is this injury treated?

The Definition of a Rib Separation

While many people have heard of rib fractures, a rib separation might sound like an unusual injury. This injury is also called a costochondral separation. It occurs when the ribs become detached from the sternum. The ribs are joined to the sternum at the costochondral joint. This is a layer of cartilage that connects the ribs to the sternum. If this joint becomes damaged, it could lead to a separation between the rib and the sternum. This typically occurs following a blow to the chest, such as in a car accident or in contact sports. Like other injuries, some rib separations are more severe than others. There could also be other associated injuries to the organs inside of the rib cage.

Symptoms of a Rib Separation

If an individual has suffered a separation of one or more ribs, several symptoms could appear. Some of these include:

  • Severe chest pain that gets worse with movement or breathing
  • Difficulty breathing, particularly when taking deep breaths
  • A visible deformity of the rib cage
  • A high heart rate
  • Sweating, nervousness, and anxiety

An individual who presents with severe chest pain after a blow to the ribs will likely receive an x-ray. This could be used to help diagnose the separated rib and could assist in looking for other injuries. These could include rib fractures, damage to the esophagus, or even trauma to the heart and lungs.

Treatment of a Separated Rib

The treatment of a separated rib will depend on the severity of the injury. The most important part of the treatment process is to make sure that the individual can breathe comfortably. This means pain control through:

  • Using ice packs to relieve any swelling of the chest
  • Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • While narcotics are often avoided because of their potential to decrease the respiratory drive, they could be needed for pain control
  • Supplemental oxygen might be needed to keep the lungs open

Over time, the separation between the rib and the sternum should heal. If there are other severe injuries, such as a collapsed lung, surgery could be required. Surgery might also be needed if multiple ribs are separated, leading to a syndrome called flail chest. Depending on the severity of the cartilage tear, the treatment time could take two to three months. After seeking medical care, where else can families find help?

Contacting an Injury Lawyer

If an individual has been diagnosed with an injury of the ribs, some of the body’s most essential organs could be at risk. In some cases, rib injuries could even result in a surgical emergency. This can place families under a significant amount of stress as they wonder what to do next. During this difficult time, families should speak to a Sacramento personal injury lawyer. The assistance that could be provided by a trained attorney includes:

  • Help in reviewing the records from the accident, making sure that every detail has been carefully examined
  • Assistance in negotiating with financial institutions to ensure that all benefits are paid out on time
  • Guidance in pursuing damages related to the accident, any injuries, and even emotional distress
  • Shifting a case to trial when required

Nobody should feel like they have to face these difficult challenges by themselves. Meet with a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento following a severe accident. Your family could be entitled to a financial settlement.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a Personal Injury Lawyer in Sacramento. A rib separation results from a blow to the chest and could lead to difficulty breathing or even surgery. If your loved one has suffered a blow to the chest resulting in serious complications, please give me a call at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.

I am proud to be a lawyer in the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and in the Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Photo Citation: The picture that was used at the beginning of this article was located originally on Pixabay.

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