Can I swim if I have a rib fracture?

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A rib fracture typically occurs due to trauma to the rib cage or certain conditions that can weaken the bones. Certain accidents, osteoporosis, cancer or engaging in contact sports or weight-bearing activities such as weight lifting are the usual causes of a rib fracture.

Swimming is also known to cause a rib fracture although it is unlikely. If an individual has a rib fracture, it is vital to rest and avoid engaging in activities that will worsen the fracture. A doctor should be consulted in order to determine if the individual can swim even with a rib fracture.

Close look on a fractured rib

The bones in the rib cage are responsible for protecting the internal organs such as the lungs and the heart from injury. A strong impact can cause one or more of the rib bones to crack which results to a rib fracture.

Rib fracture
If an individual has a rib fracture, it is vital to rest and avoid engaging in activities that will worsen the fracture.

The fractures vary in size from small-sized cracks to full breakage. The ribs that are completely broken usually have jagged points that pierce through the skin or puncture the internal organs. The indications of a fractured rib include pain while breathing, pain when bending or twisting the body and tenderness if the area is pressed on.

What are the possible complications?

A rib fracture does not always result to complications and eventually heals over time. In case where the rib is fully broken, it can result to ruptured blood vessels, puncture or tear the aorta as well as damage the liver, spleen or kidneys.

Playing sports such as swimming with a rib fracture increases the risk for complications. If an individual has a fractured rib, it is vital to consult a doctor first in order to determine the extent of the injury.

Swimming with a rib fracture

Many experts approve that swimming with a rib fracture is counterproductive to a rapid and full recovery from the injury. Even though swimming is considered as a low impact sport, the bending and twisting movement of the body while executing a stroke can worsen the injury.

In cases where the rib is completely damaged, swimming can lead to severe damage to the lungs, heart, spleen, kidney or the liver. If the individual decides to swim with a rib fracture, it must be done with permission from the doctor. The necessary precautions must be taken such as moving carefully in the water in order to prevent further injury. If pain is felt, it is important to stop swimming right away. In addition, it is best to swim in a pool with a lifeguard on watch or a friend close by since injuries while in the water usually have serious consequences.

Important considerations

Getting enough rest is vital for a rib fracture until it fully heals which usually takes at least 3-6 weeks. There is no treatment for a fractured rib but over-the-counter pain medications can be given.

The individual can resume swimming in as few as 3 weeks for mild cases. As for severe cases, it requires a longer recovery period. Only the doctor can advise the individual when it is safe to resume swimming.

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