Hesperian Health Guides

Hesperian Health Guides

Chest Wounds and Broken Ribs

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HealthWiki > New Where There Is No Doctor > First Aid > Chest Wounds and Broken Ribs


Tenderness to the touch, or stabbing pain with breathing or coughing after an injury to the chest may be a broken rib. Feel along the rib with your fingers. If there is a spot where it sticks up under the skin, or where it dips in and is very
a driver in a car that has crashed.
A fall or crushing injury can break many ribs at once.
tender, it is broken. If only one rib is broken and it is not poking in or out of the body, give pain medicine. The person should avoid lifting and hard work for a few weeks. It will heal without any special treatment. Remind the person to take deep breaths every few hours. This hurts, but keeps the lungs working.

Many broken ribs (flail chest)

  1. Tape a thick pad, or folded piece of clothing over the broken ribs.


  2. Lay the person in whatever position best helps them breathe.
  3. Watch for signs of shock and get help.

Deep chest wounds

A gunshot, stab wound, explosion, or badly broken rib can cause air to leak in and out of the lungs.

  1. Immediately cover the opening with anything airtight, like a bandage covered in petroleum jelly, a folded plastic bag, or a banana leaf.
  2. Tape only 3 sides so air can get out but not get in.
  3. a square bandage taped at the top and sides to a person's chest.
  4. Lay the person in whatever position best helps them breathe. Get help.


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