Unfortunately, you can break one or more ribs in a car crash. As the Mayo Clinic explains, while broken ribs cause you a lot of pain, most often they heal on their own within one or two months.
However, the jagged edges of a broken rib can lead to serious complications because they can pierce or otherwise damage one of your internal organs.
Common serious complications
The location of your rib break determines the complications it can cause. The most common include the following:
- Break of one of your top three ribs: punctured aorta, the major artery that carries blood away from your heart to the rest of your body
- Break of a middle rib: punctured or collapsed lung
- Break of one of your bottom two ribs: lacerated or punctured liver, spleen or kidneys
Any of these complications can prove life-threatening if not immediately treated. Therefore, if you feel chest pain after your car crash, especially when you take a breath, seek immediate medical intervention. Additional symptoms that indicate you require immediate medical assessment and treatment include the following:
- The center of your chest not only hurts but also feels heavy or full.
- The pain radiates from your chest to your shoulders or arms.
- The pain lasts for longer than just a few minutes.
Your risk of breaking one or more ribs in a car crash increases if you have osteoporosis, a condition common in older adults wherein your bones lose their density and consequently become more susceptible to fracture. Having a cancerous lesion in one of your ribs likewise weakens it and increases your risk of breakage.