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Recovering from broken ribs

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  • Recovering from broken ribs

    I came off my horse last weekend, landed on my back on hard, drought-baked ground outside the sand dressage arena. Ribs 6-10 are broken ... think the right shoulder blade area and down the side a bit. I'm expecting a 4-6 week layoff from riding. I'd appreciate ideas/advice from those who've had the same type of injury about how to get more comfortable in the short term, ways to promote healing, and staying in shape for riding during the layoff, during the long term. Right now, I'm resting and doing my breathing exercises. Thanks!

  • #2
    I feel your pain - literally I'm 3 weeks into healing from 4 broken ribs -- the horse spooked while I was mounting, and then after I fell, he accidentally stepped on my chest while trying to get away.

    The first week, I was pretty much useless, but after that, I felt well enough to get up and start moving around a bit. Avoid lifting anything and keep your torso as still as possible, but if you can, walking is great -- good low-impact exercise, and the rhythm helps with your breathing. In fact, I'm finding that my abs/core are actually getting MORE toned, because my ribs feel better when I keep good posture. So I'm doing lots of sitting up straight and holding my core in while walking.

    For sleeping, elevation helps - I got a wedge pillow from Bed Bath and Beyond, and it's great. It's actually more comfortable to sleep on my side, holding a pillow around my stomach, than flat on my back. I prop some sofa cushions behind my back so I don't roll over in my sleep.

    Oh, and stay FAR away from sick people. I got a nasty head cold this week, probably brewing from when I was in the hospital, and all the coughing and nose-blowing definitely set back my healing...
    RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks for the tips, and sorry about your ribs, too. It's good to hear from someone who is a few weeks ahead of me w/similar injuries. I tried the wedge pillow but it's going back to BB&B; it's too hard for me; maybe because my breaks are on my back/side. Odd but sometimes I'm comfortable sleeping on my back; other nights that's unbearable, and I can only sleep on my left side. I added a pillow between my knees two nights ago, and that seems to help. I've been able to move around some; can't do much w/right arm.

      Please keep me posted on your progress!

      Comment


      • #4
        When I bruised my ribs the only way I could sleep was on the couch, using the arm with pillows propped up against it to sleep on to keep me upright. Lying flat in any form was too darn painful.
        Pam's Pony Place

        Pam's Pony Ponderings

        Comment


        • #5
          yeah, I think it totally depends on where and how bad your breaks are. I've been doing some reading about others' experiences (not necessarily riders, just broken ribs in athletes in general), and people's stories vary so widely. Some said they couldn't lie down for months and still had pain years later, and others said they were back to normal activities within a few weeks.

          Mine seems to be day by day -- some days are better than others. I'm pretty much pain-free now and not really taking meds regularly anymore, but this morning I woke up with a stabbing pain in one of the broken ribs, and it spent the entire morning popping and grinding every time I breathed, which hasn't happened since the first week. I must have slept funny last night and dislodged something. By mid-afternoon, it had stopped and I felt much better.

          One thing I do remember though, is that after feeling like total crap for the first 10 days or so, all of a sudden I started feeling MUCH better around day 11. When I went back for my 2-week checkup, the doc said that was pretty typical. Hopefully you're getting close to that!
          RIP Victor... I'll miss you, you big galumph.

          Comment


          • #6
            take it slowly!

            I've broken all the ribss on each side When it hapened, I thought I woul never ride again but, wih time( 12 years) and enough pain meds to be able to lie comfortably; I tarried on, teaching lessons but, not able to bend down to pick up a pole; finallyI realized that bed rest as long as possible brought about the speediest healing
            I had to find someone to muck stalls for me; initially to groom and tack up for me; I was soon able to do them and used them to gauge my progress "shmm yesterday I could brush only as far as the withers"; today I made it to the lumbar area; I'm getting better!As for riding, the best movinghorse is not he msst comfortable; look for a "leg mover"
            breeder of Mercury!

            remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

            Comment


            • #7
              Stay away from friends with sick senses of humor who will tell you jokes, only to laugh hysterically at you when you laugh then scream, moan, whimper in pain!

              Speedy healing!!!
              Originally posted by The Saddle
              Perhaps I need my flocking adjusted.

              Comment


              • #8
                I broke mine about 3 years ago - and still have pain if I sit crooked or lie crooked. Dr said to me to think of in in threes: 3 days when even blinking hurts. 3 weeks until you don't have to think before you move. 3 months until you are able to do most of your daily activities.

                I didn't beleive him when he said it would be 4 months before I was fit again, but I have to say he was correct. I did begin riding before that, but would often end up in pain. He also put the fear of God into me about activity and what to do if I found I couldn't get my breath AT ALL. I live rurally and he said I wasn't to be out of reach of a phone for the first 2 weeks. If I found I felt more breathless than just sore from the ribs I was to phone an ambulance RIGHT AWAY and tell them I had broken ribs. He explained about pnuemothorax

                He gave lots of other useful advice: Stay away from people who are unwell in any way - and check that no one has sniffles, coughs, colds, sore throat before they are allowed to visit.

                If you do feel a sneeze coming on, hold a cushion against your borken side with your arm and elbow. That was a really useful tip.
                Don't laugh. He actually said this seriously. I thought he was joking, but he was concerned that I was quite unstable and would move things around and create a pnuemothorax.
                Sleep sitting up or reclining - use a wedge. If you lie down, roll onto your good side and roll off the bed to stand up. If you have someone to help you, get them to put their arm along yours (good side) and hold you behind the shoulder. You do the same to them and then use them to help you up from lying or sitting.

                Hope all of that is useful. Broken ribs are not fun. I've had a few breaks and the ribs are still problematic.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  I have friends who can't help but make me laugh! And it really, really hurts. I'm back at work this week and declared my desk a no-joke, no-hug zone.

                  PhoebeTrainer, thank you for all that good advice. I had not heard about the 3s.

                  I had my 2 week checkup this week; the trauma doc said I was doing OK and the pneumothorax was gone. He also said I could walk. So yesterday I walked, slowly, to get a sandwich for lunch. Probably walked too far because, oh, boy, did it hurt about an hour later. Also, I probably should not have turned down the prescription for more pain meds.

                  Thanks to everyone for posting their experiences. It really does help!

                  Carole
                  Last edited by 20meterville; Sep. 9, 2011, 04:56 PM. Reason: add to response; fix spelling.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I broke 5 ribs 3 years ago. I had a hard time sleeping comfortably (I'm a Rt side sleeper, ribs broken on Rt side) for close to a year.

                    The cold, damp weather makes them ache.

                    The worst part initially was realizing that the pain meds made me nauseous. Vomiting with broken ribs is NO fun.

                    Hoping you heal quickly and are back at it soon.

                    I was Longeing my horse at 2 weeks out (he's really good) and was going for walking rides 3 weeks out. Back to full riding and feeling strong 2 months out.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I broke two ribs last year after my mare flipped over on me. Right during allergy season! I got back in the tack after 2 weeks(for my own mental issue of getting right back on after a fall) it was the best I could manage. Took about 6 good weeks before I reached a point of not being in constant pain, then boom, one day it was all good! No lingering aches or pains, no issues when it is damp(unlike my other broken bones, which always act up). There is nothing like the pain of broken ribs, not even child birth compares, but in my experience, all healed up well and good. I feel for you..broken ribs suck!

                      Editing to add: yes, walking was hard for me too, seems even a short outing left me tired and in pain. The couch was my best friend, I found it easier to sleep propped up, with no bend in my torso. And the DR scared the crap out of me with his warnings about pnemonia(sp?) setting in, and that I was no take deep breaths every few minutes.Yikes. And, to be really personal, the pain meds made me constipated, but with those ribs, I could not push. Gross, but oh man, it was very very difficult to have a bm. I think I remember that the most, having to go, but not being able to bear down and push. I thought I was going to die....
                      "Anti-intellect and marketing, pretty, pretty, who needs talent
                      Crying eyes, we're so outnumbered, fight for the right to remain silent" Buck 65

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by up-at-5 View Post
                        And, to be really personal, the pain meds made me constipated, but with those ribs, I could not push. Gross, but oh man, it was very very difficult to have a bm. I think I remember that the most, having to go, but not being able to bear down and push. I thought I was going to die....
                        Oh, yeah that was the other thing Dr said to me. Don't use codeine or any pain meds with codeine in them - causes constipation, and he added :"You do not want to be constipated".

                        He was the emergency clinic Dr at my local med centre. Sometimes they are hopeless, but he was really, really good.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I broke several ribs which sucked, but then they punctured my lung with was worse.

                          I received a stuffed monkey as a get well present and found that if I held him between my arm and my ribs, it gave me some relief.

                          also, no laughing.
                          A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame or money, but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.--G. K. Chesterton

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            That had to be tough to go through w/out the state of the art pain meds. I'm grateful for my strong stomach. I have sneezed twice ... major ouch.

                            I went to my primary care doc today. He prescribed pain meds of various strengths. One to take on a daily basis, the other as needed. I'm not fond of the narcotics, but the OTC ibuprofen wasn't enough, and was raising my usually low BP. Well, that and the pain. So our theory is control the pain better and see if the BP goes back to normal. I find that if I get a good night's sleep I'll have a pretty good day.

                            A friend is keeping my horse for me and lunging him. My retiree is still here but he's doing OK under hubby's care.

                            I guess I'm lucky to be in heat and drought stricken Texas, no worries about cold and damp until winter, most likely.

                            Thanks for your reply and I hope I can be back riding 2 months out. It sounds like you did great!


                            Originally posted by jawa View Post
                            I broke 5 ribs 3 years ago. I had a hard time sleeping comfortably (I'm a Rt side sleeper, ribs broken on Rt side) for close to a year.

                            The cold, damp weather makes them ache.

                            The worst part initially was realizing that the pain meds made me nauseous. Vomiting with broken ribs is NO fun.

                            Hoping you heal quickly and are back at it soon.

                            I was Longeing my horse at 2 weeks out (he's really good) and was going for walking rides 3 weeks out. Back to full riding and feeling strong 2 months out.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I have two comfortable couches at home. I need the cushion against my back. I can nap but not really conk out on them, though. I hug a pillow and sleep on my left side (ribs are broken on right, back side).

                              I have not found a way to be comfortable at work in my office chair. Pillows, lumbar cushions, nothing helps much.

                              I agree on the hydrocodone and the constipation. My doc prescribed stool softener to take along with it, and it helped some. File that away, just in case you need for future reference! Knock wood that we don't!

                              So looking forward to the no-pain day! Thanks for sharing!

                              Originally posted by up-at-5 View Post
                              I broke two ribs last year after my mare flipped over on me. Right during allergy season! I got back in the tack after 2 weeks(for my own mental issue of getting right back on after a fall) it was the best I could manage. Took about 6 good weeks before I reached a point of not being in constant pain, then boom, one day it was all good! No lingering aches or pains, no issues when it is damp(unlike my other broken bones, which always act up). There is nothing like the pain of broken ribs, not even child birth compares, but in my experience, all healed up well and good. I feel for you..broken ribs suck!

                              Editing to add: yes, walking was hard for me too, seems even a short outing left me tired and in pain. The couch was my best friend, I found it easier to sleep propped up, with no bend in my torso. And the DR scared the crap out of me with his warnings about pnemonia(sp?) setting in, and that I was no take deep breaths every few minutes.Yikes. And, to be really personal, the pain meds made me constipated, but with those ribs, I could not push. Gross, but oh man, it was very very difficult to have a bm. I think I remember that the most, having to go, but not being able to bear down and push. I thought I was going to die....

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                So sorry about your punctured lung. That is so dangerous and I'm sure even more painful. Mine was scratched, showed up on Xray. That's why they kept me overnight. I'm thankful it resolved itself.

                                The stuffed monkey sounds like a good idea. Maybe I need a pillow pet! Thanks for the tip!

                                Originally posted by lizathenag View Post
                                I broke several ribs which sucked, but then they punctured my lung with was worse.

                                I received a stuffed monkey as a get well present and found that if I held him between my arm and my ribs, it gave me some relief.

                                also, no laughing.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Agreed. A reminder to take the dulcolax and benefiber!



                                  Originally posted by phoebetrainer View Post
                                  Oh, yeah that was the other thing Dr said to me. Don't use codeine or any pain meds with codeine in them - causes constipation, and he added :"You do not want to be constipated".

                                  He was the emergency clinic Dr at my local med centre. Sometimes they are hopeless, but he was really, really good.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    I have one of those breathing/feedback devices; it was issued to me at the hospital. You inhale and this floater rises to a marker on a tube. I can't remember what it's called, and my doc told me just this a.m. (Of course, if it was for the horse I'd remember it.) My goal is 1000-1500 ml inspired volume. I sometimes make it to 1750, once to 2000. I'm to use it every few hours. It was every hour the first few weeks.

                                    Point being, it's a way to do the breathing exercises and mark progress.

                                    Originally posted by up-at-5 View Post
                                    I broke two ribs last year after my mare flipped over on me. Right during allergy season! I got back in the tack after 2 weeks(for my own mental issue of getting right back on after a fall) it was the best I could manage. Took about 6 good weeks before I reached a point of not being in constant pain, then boom, one day it was all good! No lingering aches or pains, no issues when it is damp(unlike my other broken bones, which always act up). There is nothing like the pain of broken ribs, not even child birth compares, but in my experience, all healed up well and good. I feel for you..broken ribs suck!

                                    Editing to add: yes, walking was hard for me too, seems even a short outing left me tired and in pain. The couch was my best friend, I found it easier to sleep propped up, with no bend in my torso. And the DR scared the crap out of me with his warnings about pnemonia(sp?) setting in, and that I was no take deep breaths every few minutes.Yikes. And, to be really personal, the pain meds made me constipated, but with those ribs, I could not push. Gross, but oh man, it was very very difficult to have a bm. I think I remember that the most, having to go, but not being able to bear down and push. I thought I was going to die....

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I broke 4 ribs in 6 places and punctured my lung in 2001. Funny thing was that it was off the horse I now own when I was leasing her as a 4 year old. Not many people would buy a horse after an accident like that, but I love her Long story short, I was going one way on the trail with another girl on her horse, 4-wheeler came around the bend the other way, my horse turned and bolted, and i picked the biggest rock I could find to fall off onto somehow... Luckily I was still a teen bc doctors said my chances of recovery if I had been over 50 would have been about 25%... not good.

                                      Anyways, doctor said no riding for 3 months, and no real physical activity for 1. Not sure if this was bc of my lung or the ribs or both, but I listened to him for the first month...second I started doing chores again, and got on 2 days before i was supposed to... on the same horse.

                                      Definitely, no laughing/coughing during that first month. If you do catch a cold, place a pillow over your ribs before coughing to minimize the shaking of your ribs. But, make sure to do deep breathing exercises as much as you can to keep the chest expanded. When you sleep, get a sit-up-pillow or sleep in a recliner. I didn't when I first came home from the hospital and could not for the life of me figure out how to get out of bed bc it hurt so bad. I slept in the recliner after that for about 3 weeks.

                                      Best of luck
                                      Who say's your best friend has to be human?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Dick rancis , pain meds

                                        My first ribs were 1987; not broken so, I refused pain meds( foolish, but, I was very inexperienced with pain; nearly od'd on exta strength Execedrin; a narcotic would have been more effective, and allowed me to sleep util the pain had subsided; as it was, I could not lie down to sleep , so, read my first Dick Francis books they most definitely made the night easier to endure!
                                        breeder of Mercury!

                                        remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                                        Comment

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