How to Tape Cracked Ribs


Injuries to the ribs produce almost excruciating pain. The difference between a cracked rib and a broken one may be defined only as the difference of pain degree between them. A cracked rib will cause intense pain when sneezing or coughing, taking sudden moves and even breathing. In the 'old days', cracked and fractured ribs were taped in the belief that doing so would increase stability and decrease pain. However, be cautioned that many doctors don't tape or bind ribs any longer because it prevents deep breathing, which can lead to pneumonia or lung collapse. Read the following guidelines to learn how to treat a cracked rib.

Things You'll Need

  • Cloth strips or athletic binding cloth
  • Make sure what is wrong is a cracked rib. Symptoms of a cracked rib(s) may include mild to severe pain. It may be painful to breathe. If you must wrap the ribs to help relieve the pain, don't wrap too tightly, and remove bindings occasionally to take a deep breath once an hour or so. Strips of cloth or athletic wraps (the kind used to wrap boxer's hands) may be used.

  • Place a strip of binding above the injured rib. Have the injured person exhale as much air as possible, and then, starting on one side of the ribcage, completely encircle the body with the wrap one or two times. You may either tie off the binding (on the uninjured side) or continue using the same length for Step 3.

  • Repeat the wrapping process below the injured rib. Some people use a figure-eight design because it will hold its position better.

  • Visit an emergency room immediately if breathing is at all restricted, as this may lead to shortness of breath and lack of oxygen to vital organs.Cracked ribs may not show up on an x-ray, but a doctor will likely treat the injury as a break. He or she may prescribe a painkiller or suggest over-the-counter pain medications to address pain and discomfort.

  • Be patient. Cracked ribs will heal on their own. They don't have to be taped or wrapped, as mentioned above. Those suffering from a cracked rib must be patient, as it takes around six weeks for a cracked or broken rib to heal. Protect the injured area and give it plenty of rest. The healing process may be facilitated by taking a deep breath once an hour to help keep lungs clear. While this may cause extreme discomfort, it is the best way to prevent lung congestion that leads to pneumonia.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use good judgement when treating a cracked rib. Avoid further injury and allow the rib to completely heal before resuming many physical activities.
  • Don't leave tape or bindings on indefinitely. Remove and take a deep breath once an hour to prevent lung collapse or congestion that leads to pneumonia.

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  • Photo Credit Photo courtesy of Expert Village
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