1. Becca D
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    Becca D Member

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    Rib Injuries

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Becca D, Sep 24, 2008.

    Well, I have been looking for the symptoms of rib injuries (specifically, bruised or fractured ribs) to see what type of pain sufferers experiences.

    This is typical of what I usually get for results: "A rib injury causes pain and tenderness over the place of injury. You may have pain when you breathe, move, laugh, or cough."

    That's very unhelpful, since I already know it's painful. So here's my question (and it's aimed mostly at those of you who've actually had similar injuries): What does it feel like? Is it a sharp pain, or dull? Is it a pain you can ignore?

    Basically, I want to be able to accurately depict what having a rib injury feels like. :)
     
  2. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    There's a reason you get that broad explanation. I have never broken my ribs but I've broken my fair share of bones from Karate classes and well... things sort of fall into place after three or four casts.

    It varies really. it depends on what kind of break it is, how bad it is, and the exact position of the break. If its just a simple fracture, then you're likely to have tenderness, a constant sore feeling, and stabbing pain when your lungs expand the bone.

    If it's a bad break you can die. The Rib if hit hard and in a precise manner can puncture lungs and organs which i imagine is stabbingly painful beyond words.

    You can actually classify pain fairly easily. Stabbing pain refers specifically to fresh precise wounds (cuts, broken bones, organ pain, and the like). Dull pain is more related to healing, bruises, sores, what I like to call "ware and tare" and certain types of organ failure. This is mostly related to the structure of the nerve endings that sense pain.
     
  3. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    In general, I'd classify rib injuries as a sort of stabbing pain that flares when you breathe too deeply, like there's a rubber band covered in porcupine quills wrapped around your chest.

    As Lordofhats pointed out, an older injury will settle into more of an ache.

    For description, noting that the pain is worse when the character breathes, especially deeply, and having the character wince any time they cough or laugh will probably be sufficient to communicate a realistic wound to your audience. Unless you were planning on an elaborate surgical scene, or an in-depth examination by a doctor.

    Either way, I have to once again recommend "A Doctor's Guide to Murder and Mayhem." It really is an invaluable resource for anyone looking to write modern-era stories involving injury or death. It was specifically written for murder-mystery novelists, but it's pretty interesting on its own merits.
     
  4. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've cracked / fractured a rib in the past. It wasn't particularly serious. In terms of pain, it seemed only to hurt when I laughed or coughed and then felt like a quick stab of pain which melted away after a little while. I also found it (quite) painful to lift my arm above my head as this moved the rib cage, so any work head height was almost out of the question. If the character was fired up on adrenalin however, one or two cracked ribs shouldn't slow him down too much. He'd probably just regret it later.
     
  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I also cracked two ribs in a car accident (not my fault) and I can corroborate Gannon's description. It didn't really hurt more than a bruise would hurt if I didn't move or didn't breath too deeply. Any pressure applied to the area, by hand or other means, would evince a startlingly sharp, but short lived stab of pain. Also, as Gannon noted, lifting of either arm too high would (I can only assume) torque my rib cage enough to be painful.

    Because of the constant small movements of the rib cage, my ribs took longer to heal than my broken arm (from same said accident).
     
  6. Becca D
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    Becca D Member

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    Ok, thanks very much! This pretty much tells me what I needed to know. :)
     
  7. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    What Wreybies said is true - it took a long time to heal from constantly being irritated by daily movement. A couple of months that's for sure.
     
  8. Scattercat
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    Scattercat Active Member

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    Yeah, you can immobilize an arm or a leg. Ribs? Not so much.
     
  9. DominoGray
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    DominoGray New Member

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    I broke my ribs. The recovery period seems to be pretty swept up by other users. As I can only assume you're wanting a scenario in which a person broke their ribs and the experience of having done, I'll help you out with that portion

    It's actually incredibly basic, but when your ribs break the only thing that goes through your head is "Sweet Jesus I can't breathe; I'm going to die".

    It's a whole lot like getting winded, but it seems to last infinitely longer.
     

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