Rib Injuries in Car Accidents

Orange County Car Accident Treatment
Dr Barry Marks, Chiropractor Orange, CA

Rib Injuries in Car Accidents

rib pain car accidentA commonly seen complaint in car accident victims are rib and chest pains. From my perspective as a 25 year veteran of motor vehicle collision injury  treatment, the following are the most common factors involved in rib injuries:

  • Frontal or side impact most common
  • Rear impact if seat breaks backwards
  • Female occupants
  • Seat belt in use
  • Rib strain “Bruised ribs” is most common injury vs fracture, but car crashes are most common cause of rib fracture

The most common mechanism in a rib injury appears to be a sudden stop against the seat belt causing the body to strain against the belt resulting in injury. This mechanism can lead to strain and if severe enough fracture of the ribs.

Another mechanism is physical strain in a lateral direction due to side impact collisions. In these collision there is little to restrain the body from being whipped from side to side resulting in strains and at time fractures of the ribs.

Steering wheel injuries are less common as more and more motorists use seat belts and cars are equipped with airbags. The most common and serious injuries associated with striking the steering wheel are broken ribs and/or sternum and chest wall injuries.

Although bruised or strained ribs are less serious than fractured ribs, it is an injury that is equally painful and can last just as long.  In fact strained ribs can linger for several months.

Proper Assessment of Car Accident Rib Pain:

  • X-rays are required of any painful areas after a car accident
  • Physical examination including specific physical maneuvers to ascertain rib fracture
  • If after a period of treatment (about 4 weeks), the rib pain is unrelenting, a bone scan may be needed to rule out occult (hidden) fracture.

Treatment of Strained  Ribs After Car Accident:

Initial stages 3x/week x 4-6 weeks

  • Interferential electrical stimulation and ice
  • Cold laser therapy acute trauma and inflammation settings
  • Home applications of heat and ice 1-2x/ day

Once pain has significantly subsided add…

  • Chiropractic manipulation of ribs and thoracic spine joints
  • Exercises of thoracic musculature

More about Orange County CA Car Accident

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