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Symptoms of Bruised or Cracked Ribs

By Rena Sherwood ; Updated July 27, 2017

There are a couple of ways you can bruise or crack your ribs. You can receive a blow along the rib area, or fall heavily on your side. You can also bruise or even fracture a rib from coughing a lot, such as with bronchial pneumonia or whooping cough. The Mayo Clinic reports that your chances of cracking a rib from coughing are higher if you have osteoporosis.

Sharp Pain in Side

Bruised or cracked ribs can be very painful. Because you use your chest cavity to breathe and your lungs are always in motion, the pain is virtually constant. You may feel a greater pain when you laugh, inhale deeply, roll over onto the bruised side or cough.


Bruises often appear at the area of pain, especially if the cause of the pain was a blow or injury. Bruising only sometimes occurs if the cracking was caused by a cough.

Pain Gets Worse

MDAdvice notes that the sharp pain will often get worse as you move about, bend over or press your side.

Emergency Signs

Broken ribs can possibly puncture a lung. Oregon State University reports that if you know you have a cracked rib and have difficulty breathing or have a sudden tightness in the chest, call an ambulance.

Time Frame

The Mayo Clinic reports that it can take up to two months for a bruised or cracked rib to heal.

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