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Thread: Cracked Rib?!?

  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: OneEyeMan's Avatar
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    Aug 2005

    Cracked Rib?!?

    I was negotiating a rock bridge last Sun when my front tire got wedged between 2 rocks.
    I fell to the left, and luckily, a tree broke my fall.
    However, it was my ribs that made contact with the tree.
    Didn't think much of it at the time as it really didn't hurt that much, so I finished the rest of the ride. The next day, Mon, I did a SS ride. Had my best SS ride ever.
    The next morning, my ribs hurt a little more, but I still didn't think anything was really wrong aside from a little bruising.
    Then Wed, I met the group for our regular Wed ride. Went about a mile or so when I couldn't take the pain any more. Every breath felt like a knife sticking into my ribs. So I went home and after whining to my wife like a little school girl for a while about the pain, she insisted I go the the ER and get checked out.
    So, Thurs, I went to the ER.
    Yep, cracked the #6 rib on the left side. Damn
    I probably made it worse with the SS ride and all that tugging on the bars during the climbs.
    Anyway, nothing a few Percocet and Aleve can't handle, but I've learned my lesson; no more riding for a while.
    It already feels better and I can take deep breaths without any pain.
    However, I sneezed once the other day and man, lemme tell ya, that's the real definition of pain.
    So, my question, for those of you who've broken ribs is, how long did you stay off the bike before you felt strong enough to ride again? I'm in decent shape for an old fart and I really don't want to lose too much conditioning. I'll still use the stationary bike at the gym. But it's the pulling up on the bars (specially on the SS) that really hurts.
    Thanks for listening to my sad story all.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    I wrecked pretty nastily sticking my front tire on a rock on the landing of a jump last Sunday, went over the bars and landed HARD on my right side (still have a softball-sized bruise on that shoulder, very pretty colors btw) and knocked the wind out of me for about 45 sec. I got up, checked the bike, and rode on for another hour or so, felt a little stiff and sore, but otherwise fine. Went to work the next day (office type work) felt a little twinge on the walk from the car, but was fine the rest of the day. Went for a ride that night, about 15 miles with the girlfriend (easy pace, 12-13mph). Still felt fine, a little sore, but fine.

    The next morning (Tues.) I felt like someone had kicked me in the chest, then stabbed me. I could barely get out of bed. I've been off work the rest of this week, taking it easy, as any movement that requires stomach muscles, twisting, bending, or other trunk-type movement = severe pain. Turns out I cracked 3 ribs, one right near the sternum -- that one hurts a LOT.

    However, the pain has steadily been decreasing this week and I figure I should be mostly pain free by next weekend. I should note that historically I heal fast, and I've been taking extra good care of myself this time, because I plan on doing my first race this June, and I'm nowhere near ready for it, so I need to get back to training and be pain-free.

    What's worked best for me has been ibuprofen (i have no insurance, so meds = muy expensive), lots of lean protein + calcium (to repair the cartilage/muscle/bone -- can't hurt as long as you don't go nuts with it), and REST. Take it easy. It's easy to string an injury out much longer than necessary by failing to rest and let it heal.

    And ditto the sneezing thing. I'd rather take a shot to the nuts.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Blister Butt's Avatar
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    Jul 2005

    third time's a charm

    I have busted ribs on two separate occasions. Two ribs the first time, three the second. It hurts like crazy for a while and can get pretty depressing. The doctor told me the number one complication from busted ribs is pneumonia, so he asked me to do a deep (excruciatingly painful) cough once an hour to prevent pneumonia during the first five days.

    After about a week the pain subsided a lot. About two weeks after that I went biking. Idiot! I rebusted the two and all the bad pain was back and I had to do the coughing thing again. About three weeks after that I though I was cool so I went on a ride and got tossed to the ground like a rag doll. Idiot! Back to square one and the doc told me that I was lucky my jagged ribs hadn't punctured a lung. About five weeks after that I went on a ride and was fine.

    Second time, with three busted bad boys, I waited about four weeks before riding again. Two were fine, but the one at the base of my rib cage ripped right apart again and that one was back to square one. I waited about two weeks and started riding again, rebreaking it about every other day. It finally knit up, but I got this big-ass bump where the break was that made me look like a carnival freak who was about to sprout a human head from his side. That led to the destruction of the little chunk of cartilage that holds your rib onto wherever they hold on to. That was the worst pain of all! It felt like what I imagine a gunshot wound would feel like. It hurt to whisper and I literally couldn't move the left side of my upper body for about three weeks.

    The doctor said I was a complete idiot and was totally responsible for the complications that had arisen. The pain of the cartilage injury kept me off my bike for six solid weeks. The big calcium deposit bump digested itself and was back to normal about a year later, leaving a little nugget there that remains promient to this day. If I poke out my rib cage, it's all deformed where the cartilage thingee and the calcium deposit were, giving me a little bit of that "Elephant Man" mystique we all want to cultivate. Good thing I'm fat and don't walk around with a jutting-out rib cage.

    Had I simply waited the allotted time before I started riding like a jerk (or had I ridden gently for a while), I would have avoided all the extra pain and frustration.

    I am certain I'll bust another rib sometime down the road. But when that happens I'm not going to act like a jackass. The body is excellent at healing itself if you'll let it.

    Let this serve as inspiration to all.

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