What is a fractured rib?
A rib fracture is a crack or break in one of the bones of the rib cage. The most common cause of a fractured rib is a direct blow to chest – and in Tkachuk’s case, it occurred when the blade of his hockey stick got stuck in the pads of a goaltender, jamming the butt-end of the stick into his chest.
Ribs can also be fractured with forceful coughing, most commonly occurring in people with a disease like osteoporosis or when cancer has weakened the bones.
What happens when a rib is fractured?
The ribs provide two man functions for your body:
1) To protect your internal organs
2) To stay stable while the muscles you use to breathe contract and expand.
When the ribs are injured, breathing and even light movement can be extremely difficult and painful.
How do you treat a rib fracture?
In a majority of cases, treatment revolves around relieving pain while the fracture heals. A combination of icing down the injury, rest and relaxation and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and helpful for pain relief.
Chest wall injuries, including rib fractures, heal slowly. It is vital that you rest as much as possible, as simple things such as breathing or light movement can put your chest to work. Rib fractures typically take four to six weeks to heal.