Broken (fractured) or bruised ribs are usually caused by a fall or blow to the chest, or occasionally by severe coughing. They can be very painful, but will normally improve within about three to six weeks.

If you think you've injured your ribs, you'll often be able to look after yourself at home. Ribs can't be easily splinted or supported like other bones, so they're usually left to heal naturally.

Broken and bruised ribs are generally treated in the same way, so it's not usually necessary to have an X-ray to determine what your exact injury is.

You generally only need to seek medical advice if things get worse or don't improve, or if you were injured during a serious accident. See When to see a doctor , below,for more information.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 5 Jan 2017