How to Sleep with Broken Ribs

How to Sleep with Broken Ribs

Sleeping with fractured ribs can be quite challenging, as the pain may significantly disrupt your sleep pattern and overall health. In this definitive guide, we'll provide you with a clear understanding of the anatomy of broken ribs, the various challenges of managing pain during sleep, and practical tips for achieving restorative sleep despite the condition.

If you're seeking relief and recovery during your healing journey, read on for some of the most reliable practices for sleeping with injured ribs, including the best sleeping positions to adapt and pain management techniques to ensure your road to recovery is as flawless and pain-free as possible.

What is a Rib Fracture?

What is a Rib Fracture?

A rib fracture is basically a medical term used for broken ribs. Unlike other types of bone fractures, patients won't probably need treatment for broken ribs other than breathing exercises, enough sleep, and ice. However, rib fractures can also cause life-threatening complications, so make sure you see a physician if symptoms persist or if you have a hard time breathing.

Types of Rib Fractures

Your healthcare provider will classify your injury depending on the type of fracture you experienced. Some of the most common break patterns include:

  • Avulsion - A tiny piece of bone is pulled from your ribs due to ligament or muscle attachment
  • Floating fracture - This occurs when your ribs are injured twice, leading to a free fracture fragment.
  • Stress fracture - This often occurs in high-level athletes due to repetitive strain.
  • Comminuted fracture - In this type, the ribs break into multiple fragments.
  • Displaced vs. non-displaced fractures - In displaced fractures, the broken bones move significantly, forming a gap around the injured part. On the other hand, the broken pieces in non-displaced fractures remain perfectly aligned without significant movement.
Types of Rib Fractures

One of the most common symptoms of broken ribs is chest pain, especially when coughing, laughing, or breathing. Depending on the injured part's location, bending your body may easily trigger sudden pain. Plus, you may notice swelling or redness around the fractured ribs.

If you've broken more than three adjacent ribs in two different places, you may experience a flail chest, a condition where the upper rib cage moves away from the chest wall, making it hard for it to hold its shape when breathing. This condition can also lead to a pulmonary contusion, causing respiratory failure and other other severe lung infections. Make sure you see a physician or seek emergency care immediately if your condition is accompanied by

  • Unusual cough (one that produces blood or mucus)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increasing shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Trouble breathing deeply

So, What Causes Broken Ribs?

We, humans, have a total of 12 pairs of ribs that protect our hearts and lungs. While these bones are designed to withstand a lot of pressure, sudden and severe blows to your back and chest region can fracture them. This can happen in trauma, including a hard fall from a height, car accident, or even contact sports. A rib fracture can also result from years of repetitive actions like swinging a golf club. Sometimes, severe coughing can also cause broken ribs, especially in the elderly, individuals with bone-weakening cancer, and those with osteoporosis.

How Broken Ribs Affect Sleep

Sleeping with multiple broken or bruised ribs comes with numerous challenges, and several factors will influence how comfortable you sleep throughout the night. The most immediate effect of bruised ribs is pain, which can worsen when you lie down, making it quite challenging to find a comfortable sleep position.

During cold weather, the body's muscles contract to prevent heat dissipation. This might trigger muscle pains that hurt an injured rib cage. What's more, people tend to cough more frequently in lower temperatures, which increases pain due to the chest cavity's rapid expansion and contraction.

After you fall asleep at night, you're no longer in charge of your body movements. This can potentially lead to sharp rib pain throughout the night as you change positions in bed and put pressure on the fractured ribs. Plus, the concern of further injuring yourself while sleeping can cause anxiety, preventing restful sleep. A broken or bruised rib can also impair breathing, which can be exacerbated when lying down, leading to disrupted sleep.

Tips for Sleeping with Broken Ribs

Creating a conducive sleeping environment is vital when dealing with fractured ribs. With the right setup, you can minimize discomfort and easily find a comfortable and supportive position that reduces rib pain and promotes healing. Here's how you can prepare for a good night's sleep.

1. Choose the Most Comfortable Sleep Position

Bruised ribs are particularly problematic during the night, especially if you're used to sleeping on your sides or stomach. Below are the recommended sleep positions that can keep you from exacerbating the pain and promote quick recovery.

2. Sleep While Sitting Upright

While having fractured ribs is a very unpleasant experience, you'll recover faster if you take good care of yourself, and this includes finding the best sleep position for your condition. We recommend sleeping while sitting upright for the first few days after your injury for several reasons:

  • Facilitates easier breathing - Sleeping with bruised ribs can sometimes make it difficult and painful to breathe deeply. When you adapt to an upright position, you'll have an easy time breathing, which can even help keep complications like pneumonia at bay.
  • Reduces pressure on the injured ribs - Lying flat on your mattress can put additional pressure on the bruised region and spine. This may increase pain and discomfort, making falling or staying asleep hard. By sleeping upright, your chest region will be open and free from extra stress, minimizing rib pain and leading to a good night's sleep.
  • Prevents painful body movements - When you're deep in slumber, you can't control your body movements, meaning you can easily roll onto the broken rib, causing a sharp, painful sensation in the region. Sitting up helps limit these movements and makes it easy to maintain a stable position.
  • Promotes healing - Besides helping you sleep better, maintaining the upright position encourages better blood circulation and minimizes swelling in the chest region, which can significantly aid in the healing process.

Consider using soft and comfortable pillows to prop yourself up and maintain an upright sleeping position all night long. Make sure you follow your physician's guidelines for the best recovery practices.

3. Sleep On Your Back

Generally, sleeping on your back with fractured ribs isn't recommended due to the high potential for increased pain around the affected area. However, for those who find it necessary to use this sleep position, doing so with some elevation on the back might really come in handy. Consider sleeping with a pillow under your arms to keep you from suddenly moving to your sides. Adding a pillow under your knees also helps ease the pressure off your back.

Some of the benefits that come with sleeping on your back with a slight elevation include:

  • Promotes neutral spinal alignment - Back sleeping helps in weight redistribution, minimizing tension accumulation, and lowering rib pain levels.
  • Reduces the risk of additional injury - This position keeps patients from rolling onto the affected area, which could exacerbate the pain or cause further damage.
  • Encourages easier breathing - Being slightly elevated while sleeping on your back can promote easier breathing, especially if your bruised ribs interrupt lung expansion.
  • Allows for uninterrupted circulation of blood - Elevating your back slightly while sleeping can ensure the injured area receives a steady flow of blood, which is vital for recovery.

Keep in mind that sleeping on your back without elevation can cause stiffness and soreness. So, consider using an adjustable bed to take the pressure off the bruised part, making getting in and out of your mattress less uncomfortable. Pillows can also aid in creating a gentle incline, enhancing comfort and supporting fast recovery.

4. Sleep on an Electric Recliner Chair 

An electric recliner can help you sleep comfortably while sitting. We recommend going for a model with diverse features that you can customize to your liking. Look for functions like:

  • Button control - Takes less effort than levers to adjust your seat.
  • Multi-level reclining - Offers varied positions for reading, sleeping, and watching TV.
  • Power lift and tilt function - Helps sleepers ease out of the seat.
  • Pockets - Allows you to keep vital items within reach.

Adjustable armrests and a supportive backrest are also essential for a comfortable sleep and faster recovery. While your seat's surface should be firm enough to support your back and lumbar region, it should also be well-cushioned for optimum support.

5. Use Pillows/Wedges to Increase Comfort

Pillows can keep you from rolling over during the night, which can be painful, causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. That's why it's wise to put a pillow under your arms, especially if you're back sleeping, to prevent you from rolling onto the sides. You also want to put a couple of soft pillows under your knees to minimize the pressure on your back. Plus, you can place a wedge with multiple positions behind your neck to adjust the height of your headrest however you feel most comfortable.

In addition to providing full-body support, a body pillow can keep you from rolling onto the bruised ribs, helping you maintain a stable sleep position that supports the spine and protects the ribs. You can hug it for additional comfort and support, which makes sleeping on your uninjured side easier all night long. 

We recommend slightly squeezing two tiny pillows on the affected area to protect your rib cage as you sleep. Don't use wearable compression garments, as they can actually reduce the quality of the breaths that you're taking. 

6. Practice Deep Breathing

Fractured ribs may force you to take shallow breaths, as the pain associated with moving the chest can be quite unbearable. This can, in turn, increase your chances of developing respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia. That's why most patients are often advised to do breathing exercises as they recover.

In some instances, doctors recommend working with a respiratory therapist. Here, you may have to use a spirometer, a device that measures the total volume of air inhaled and exhaled, to clearly understand how it feels to take full, deep breaths. 

To practice deep breathing exercises, recline in your chair or sleep on your back, then slowly take a big, deep breath. As you inhale through the nose, try counting to five and then count down from five as you breathe out through the mouth. As you take deep breaths, try to pull down the air with your diaphragm into your stomach. 

To help with the pain, we recommend taking your pain relievers about 30 minutes before you start the exercise. Holding a soft pillow gently against your chest may also help exacerbate the pain. 

7. Limit Your Movement While in Bed

During the first few nights after treatment, you must limit twisting, turning, or stretching while sleeping. While this might be a bit hard to control during the night, try to remember that your bruised ribs are linked to many upper body parts, so any slight movement can increase your pain.

Keep an extra pillow in bed so you may brace it against the ribs when changing positions at night. Don't wrap your ribs to minimize movement, as this may only increase your risk of lung infection and collapsed lungs. 

Pain Management Strategies for Broken Ribs

Managing pain at night while sleeping with fractured ribs can be quite challenging. Here are some strategies that may deliver a pain-free sleep experience.

Take Pain Medications According to Your Doctor's Prescription

If your physician has prescribed pain relievers, make sure you follow their guidelines for how to use the drugs and contact them as soon as possible if you encounter any problems or have any questions. It's worth noting that some prescription pain medicines may make it a bit challenging to fall asleep or even stay asleep, as they can lead to sleep apnea. Opioid medications, for instance, can interfere with breathing and wake you up at night.

Try OTC Pain Relievers

If you're not using prescription drugs for your fractured ribs, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers like naproxen, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. Just make sure you check with your healthcare provider for specific recommendations on which pain medications to take and in what quantity. Don't use more or less than the recommended dosage. If you're suffering from or have had high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, heart disease, liver disease, or kidney disease, talk to your doctor to know whether you can safely use one of these drugs.

Apply Ice to the Injured Ribs

You'll be icing a lot when you're recovering from rib injuries, so it'll be good to have an ice pack on rotation all the time, and having one at the bedside when you're about to get into bed is essential. In addition to helping numb the pain, icing may also minimize the swelling.

During the first few days after your injury, you may really benefit from placing a wrapped ice pack on the bruised area for at least 20 minutes every hour. After two to three days, you can use the covered ice pack for about 10 to 20 minutes before going to bed to help relieve the pain. Avoid using heat on the broken ribs, especially if the affected area has swelled. Heat increases the blood supply to the area, which can only worsen the swelling. 

How to Get in and Out of Bed with Rib Fracture

How to Get in and Out of Bed with Rib Fracture

Suffering from broken ribs can make the easy act of climbing and getting out of your bed a painful task. It's vital to approach this task cautiously to avoid causing further damage and promote healing.

Getting Into Bed

When dealing with rib fractures, the log roll technique can help you gently get in and out of bed to avoid further injury and pain.

  1. Start by sitting on the edge of your bed while keeping the bruised side away from the mattress.
  2. With one hand holding the bed and the other squeezing a pillow on the affected part, carefully lie on the uninjured side.
  3. Slowly swing your legs onto the bed using your arm for support. Ensure your knees are bent while doing this, and control your movements.
  4. From here, gently push off your arm and roll back on your back. 

The pillow acts as a splint, so by squeezing it tight as you're rolling, you're protecting the bruised region, and this helps minimize pain and discomfort. Additionally, by using the log rule and breaking down the movement into small, doable parts, you'll be slowing down the movements that you'd subconsciously do on your own, which helps minimize the amount of intrathoracic or intra-abdominal pressure that occurs when we normally get out of bed.

Getting Out of Bed

Getting out of bed can also be challenging, mainly due to the risk of pain and further injury. These instructions can help you get out of your mattress safely:

  • First, you want to avoid twisting as much as possible, as any torsional movements can cause pain and affect the healing process.
  • While lying on your back, wrap the pillow around the rib fractures and squeeze it with your hand, acting as a splint.
  • Keep your knees bent, and then roll onto your side. Reach your opposite arm for the end of the bed as you roll your upper and lower bodies as a unit.
  • Now, push down with your left hand and right elbow as you squeeze the pillow around the injured area.
  • Lastly, swing your legs off the bed as you use your arms to prop yourself up and switch to a sitting position.

Moving slowly and avoiding any movements that could worsen your condition is crucial. If you experience increased pain when getting out of bed, seek medical attention.  

How to Recover Better from Broken Ribs at Home

Beyond the strategies mentioned above for minimizing pain, additional tips can help you achieve better sleep quality. The following tips focus on overall well-being and creating a perfect environment for sleep and quick recovery.

Get Enough Rest

Sleep plays a very pivotal role when it comes to healing after a rib injury. For starters, it can help in relieving pain, which is crucial since broken ribs can cause severe pain and discomfort, especially when moving and breathing. During sleep, the body is at rest, focusing mainly on healing and regenerating body tissues. This process is crucial for bone strength recovery and reforming damaged rib tissues. Sleep also helps in balancing body hormones involved in growth and restoration. This can aid in speeding up the healing process.

You want to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. You can also nap during the daytime if you feel tired. Some of the best ways of making it easy to fall asleep and stay asleep include:

  • Ensuring your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet
  • Doing something relaxing before bed
  • Going to bed at the same time each time
  • Turning off your phones, tablets, and TVs before going to bed

Engage in Light Activities

Engage in Light Activities

Spending almost the entire day sleeping isn't a good idea when having a rib injury. Instead, try getting up and walking around the house at least once or twice every two hours. This will help get more oxygen into your system and clear mucus from the lungs. Engaging in gentle and low-impact activities, such as stretching, can also promote better sleep during the night. While staying physically active can reduce stress and improve circulation, avoiding these activities close to bedtime is vital. Also, consult your physician to ensure any activity you engage in is safe for your condition. 

Cough If You Need to Cough

Cough If You Need to Cough

Coughing is often painful when you have fractured ribs. However, it's crucial to do it, as suppressing coughs can lead to lung infections. If you feel like coughing at night, carefully sit on the edge of the bed and lean forward to cough. We recommend holding a pillow or blanket against your chest to minimize discomfort. It's always important to balance the need for coughing for overall lung health with the need for protecting your bruised ribs from further injury. So, if you're not sure about how to handle coughing with fractured ribs, consult your physician for personalized advice.

Eat Healthy Meals

Generally, broken bones need the proper nutrients in the right amount to heal correctly, so getting adequate nutrition is a great strategy. You want to ensure your diet includes fresh produce, lean protein, complex carbohydrates like whole grains, dairy products, fruits, and lots of purified water. Feel free to supplement your diet with extra nutrients, such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin K, to accelerate healing. You also want to refrain from taking things that can hinder bone healing, like refined sugars, fast food, and alcohol. Smoking may also slow the recovery process, so if you're a smoker, this is a perfect time to quit smoking. Talk to your healthcare provider about smoking cessation programs and drugs that can make it much easier for you to stop smoking.

Sleep on a Supportive Mattress

Another perfect way to sleep comfortably with broken ribs is by using a mattress that supports the body without creating extra pressure points on the fractured region. Sleep experts often recommend a medium-firm mattress, such as the Amerisleep AS3, as it delivers a nice balance of comfort and support. In addition to supporting your body evenly and cushioning your ribs, this memory foam mattress features a Bio-Pur foam layer, which excels at relieving painful pressure points and regulating temperature. This can be really comforting, especially when you're trying to keep yourself from overheating and sweating due to pain and discomfort.

What's more, the AS3 can work with an adjustable base, meaning you can easily adjust the height of your mattress to your liking without straining yourself or getting out of bed. This feature allows you to rest in a more upright posture, which minimizes pressure on your broken ribs and makes breathing easier. You'll also be glad that Amerisleep offers a hybrid model that can support heavyweight individuals. Feel free to take advantage of their 100-night trial period to test the mattress and check whether it meets your unique needs for support and comfort during recovery from rib fractures.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Overall, recovering from fractured ribs involves effective management of your sleep environment and lifestyle to reduce pain and optimize recovery. With the right approach, you can achieve a comfortable night's sleep and emerge from this painful experience with strength and resilience. Pay close attention to any concerning symptoms after treatment and seek immediate medical attention if you experience difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, persistent cough, or worsening pain. Also, if you experience new symptoms, schedule a professional medical checkup to ensure proper healing.

65 thoughts on “How to Sleep with Broken Ribs – Sleep Better & Recover”

  1. I have been searching all over the internet for information to help me in my present condition, which I so clumsily acquired Wednesday a.m. (9/22/2021) when I tripped and fell full frontal onto the floor and fractured my 6th and 7th ribs. Have sharp, (literally breath-taking) shooting pain, underneath my left breast often, and wasn’t sure about how long to wear a brace which DOES help. And also the info about what position to sleep in was very helpful. This article had everything in it that I needed and has helped so much! Thank you guys for putting out such informative and helpful information.

    1. Hi Nancy. I had a very bad experience while taking the city bus to my bank. I was on the way back on June 23, 2022, when the bus driver suddenly stopped the bus and the Kinetic energy caused my body to slam into the arm rest on the seat caused my rib to be injured. I was aware of how injured I was until I got off the bus and began feeling stabbing pains and yelping out in pain. Passers by must have thought me weird but I was really sane but in pain. Anyway, I have not yet seen my doctor but I will get x-rays when I do. I now sleep on my better side with a towel between by breasts so the injured side breast does not sag and pull at the injured area. It is still uncomfortable to get up from that position but that seems to work. I also put an ice pack on the area and where a loose fitting sports bra. Bras with underwire are not recommended. Breathing is essential to get air in your lungs so I am doing exercises to avoid getting pneumonia. This is my 4th fractured rib and hopefully my last. Hope you have healed up and are doing better.

      1. How long was it before you could go to sleep in a bed in a normal position? I did not fracture my ribs but damaged ribs 8 to 11 and have had laser treatment but it still pulls when I try to lie down either on my good side or my back.

      1. Hi Gabe. I had a fall at home and sustained chest injuries . Especially my rib cage which is now healing after 2 weeks but I’m experiencing a fit like feeling in my nose on and off. I went to doc who prescribed naseptin cream to put in nose. It is helping a little I think but hasn’t got rid of it yet. Then again it’s only my second day to use it. Importantly it doesn’t bother me in bed… far anyway…any comments appreciated…. cheers Kevin…

        1. Hi Kevin,
          Sorry about the fall. Hope you feel better soon. I think it’s best to use the cream according to prescription until it’s done then see if they’ll be improvement. If not, you can go back to the doctor and give him a report. In case it worsens while using the cream also stop using and go back to the doctor. Otherwise, if it doesn’t bother you in bed, I’d say your beddings are good for the situation. If you start feeling more pain in the ribs when sleeping, you can try using a weighted blanket for pain.. here are some of our favorite picks

        2. Unfortunately, one thing this article does not address is the use of braces or wrappings. You are better off not to use either in order to reduce the risk of pneumonia.

      2. I have found that the best results are from sleeping on the side with the broken ribs to help with the pressure. My ribs were actually broken and not just fractured so that may have an effect on the positioning.

        1. I was told by a nurse friend not to sleep on the side with the problem as it puts too much pressure on the ribs. I, like you, felt better sleeping on a heating pad on the affected side.

    2. Great information!! Thank you so much!!!! Your sleeping recommendations really are the best I’ve read and they really do work. Getting enough sleep is huge!! This is all very appreciated

    3. Unfortunately, one thing this article does not address is the use of braces rappings. You are better off not to use either in order to reduce the risk of pneumonia.

  2. Broken ribs 3rd and 7th it has been three weeks now . Still hurting but don’t have that sharp pain. Your information has help me understand my injury. Thank you

  3. I’m a 73 yr old female, 5 days ago I fell whilst walking my 2 small dogs. A rather excitable dog walking on a long extended lead very quickly encircled myself and my two dogs. I didn’t have a hand free to prevent my fall. I landed heavily on the pavement on my left breast. I knew immediately that I had damaged my ribs as the pain was instant and it’s been constant ever since. I’m grateful for the advice you’ve provided as it confirms what I’ve been doing thus far is the best course of action.
    I had hoped the sharp pain which occurs on movement, coughing, bending forward, raising arms to dress, brushing hair, lifting a kettle etc would have subsided by now. Sleeping is difficult I’m now going to try ice packs as you suggest. Thank you for your advice.

    1. Jenny,
      Hope you’re on the way to a full recovery. I am 73 also. I fell 6 days ago using a swivel chair to get up from the floor while exercising. I broke one rib in the back. Wow! This sucker hurts. I appreciate your comments.
      When do the stabbing pains go away when you bend, get up, roll over…
      Did you find sleep illusive?

      1. I had a bad trauma from slipping
        In the bath punctured my lung and had a drain in for a week in hospital, I have severely damaged my under right rib cage area the pain has been horrendous multi rib fractures . Been two weeks now and still bad it’s the worse pain I have had in my life .

    1. Hello sorry to heard you fell, I fell 1 day ago and I went to the hospital.
      My ribs have a hair line fractured and my muscles are tarred in between my ribs. Very very painful but I find sleeping upright a bit and on my side has help a lot and I got medication for the inflammation from the dr which is been amazing it really has helped. This is my second night and I feel better, still in lots of pain but better then two nights ago

  4. I appreciate all the information provided here. One thing I am unsure about is do rib bones broken in the back cause more symptoms?
    I am 70 yrs old and fell 6 ft from a ladder. I fell on my side breaking 7 ribs, I also caused unstructured damage to my hip. This was on Sept 27, I spent 3 days in hospital an 7 days in rehab.
    I am numb in front of the side with the broken ribs, I still can’t sleep in my adjustable bed. I had to buy a lift chair because I could not use my right arm to use my recliner.
    I assume there is still hope but getting discouraged.

    1. Hello Jeannette,

      Your condition sounds like mine and I have not found anyone who can help explain my numbness in the front and sharp stabbing pain in my back. Can’t lay down, can’t lean back. In my third week abs nothing seems to be getting better.

      Can I ask how you are doing now and what ended up working for you?

      1. Hi Jeannette and Stanley, have you tried consulting your doctor/surgeon about this? All I know is that, unfortunately, injuries and surgeries involving bones, ribs and joints usually take very long to heal (even up to 12 months). After my wrist surgery over 4 months down the line the pain felt like it did on the first day, sometimes even worse. You guys may have to persevere a bit longer before you feel some relief. But do check in with your doctor, they may have a solution. In the meantime, use the right mattress, pillow and sleeping position. Get well soon and stay positive!

  5. I am a 81 year old woman with 3 broken ribs. Poor sleep was a dehabilatating problem which affects your total state of being. Reading productive healing insights on iPhone and common sense has greatly improved my well being.

    Those are regular icing; taking it easy, no quickie turns or flourishes; walk with cane whether you think you need to or not. Not much of a druggie person now
    taking Ibuprofen AM & PM; use what I call a (grabber) bar for picking up stuff out of reach – cane helps getting objects in place for pickup. Talk slowly & breathe as deeply as possible to stop/prevent coughing. Appropriate pillow
    Against body when coughing

    And I have an old, almost older than me recliner which allowed me a good night’s sleep when I thought to sleep in it last night!

  6. I’m Mike Palay, 67 years old from the Philippines. I have undergone a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG-a tripple open heart bypass surgery) last year Sept. 01, 2020. I’m still experiencing severe chest pain causing sleepless nights every day. Everytime I move, I hear clicking and flopping of my breast bone. I surmised my breast bone has not yet totally healed. What medicines or advises do you recommend for me to do. Thank you and best regards.

    1. I also had open heart. They should have wired your breastbones together. See your primary and get x-rays asap. Should not be hearing noises from your chest.

      1. Hello, I fell over the edge edge of bathtub six weeks ago. Severe pain and inability to breathe ensued. Two days later I got x-rays. They couldn’t find a fracture but I still have pain and popping noises under my arm, breast and around back. Your information has explained a lot of my symptoms. Are these noises cartilage and should I be concerned. I am 67 with osteoporosis .

  7. This was a wonderful article. I wake up with pain worse than any in the day. I was so blessed to read that sleeping in a recliner helps. I sleep on my stomach!! And evidently makes is worse! Thank you so much for sleeping tips!!

  8. Hi Mike, my name is Adrian and I had a quadruple bypass in 2013 at age 65. I experienced the clicking and flopping as well. At times I thought my whole rib cage was moving around. It all passes with time although it seems to be taking longer in your case. I had terrible side effects from medications so I weaned myself off them. The only thing I carry with me is my nitrate spray which I hardly ever use. I found that diet and walking (2 hrs plus)helped a great deal and got me back to as normal for my age. Injuries havenever stopped me from doing anything. Hope this is helpful

  9. I’m a 60 yr old woman. I broke 11 ribs, one lung was partially collapsed. I had a broken elbow and 2 brain bleeds. That was Oct 24,2021 this is Dec 20,2021. When laying down I prop myself up but every time I raise up I have terrible pain in my chest. I don’t know why it hurts so bad.

  10. Hi I m writing this from Mozambique , I m Mr Naik, last week 22nd Dec I slipped in Bath room and got hurt ribs 7 8 and 9. As explained in article breathing , moving, slepping are difficult. Hence got this article read now I m trying these sleeping techniques from today. Thank you for some mental relief after reading this article which will be great help . Let me be optimistic to get well soon. BYE.

    1. I slipped on the shower stepped on some foam&on the bathtub floor i was hit my right back on the border…pain was not bad after a few days pain would be like stabbing took x-ray 9th rib is cracked. So the moral is b carefull some inocent thing may get u in pain&down…have to do a hike in about 6 weeks so I hope everything works out

      1. I’m 68, fell off a tippy stool in our closet today. Hit something on my left flank side. X-ray shows fractured lower rib. I’m not sure how to sleep. When I try to roll over it hurts so bad. I’m hoping I won’t be in such bad pain for long. We have a 13 day camping trip in 2 weeks!

  11. I spent 8 days in hospital with double pneumonia, collapsed lobe of left lung, pleurisy and I found out 2 days ago, bilateral Fractured ribs. In my shock and pain I completely forgot to ask how to deal with pain and sleep at night. Your article has helped and I’m still sleeping and resting lots but am beginning to see slight improvements. I’m grateful for the explanation

  12. We were in a horrific car accident last weekend, fracturing several ribs of my companion and myself. The area’s Trauma Center stabilized us and sent us home the next morning instructing us to follow up with our GP asap. I had to battle them to be seen next week! This article was informative and comforting. What should I expect my GP to ck, ask, look at? This is alot of care I had no idea I needed. I feel like I’m winging it here without guidance- except yours.

    1. My husband and I were also recently in a very bad accident – a car came at us head on. It was a highway and my husband was going highway speed -60 mph. I ended up with 10 fractured ribs and a fractured sternum – most on the left side. this was 4 weeks ago and I am starting to not be in excruciating pain – just bad pain in my sternum. (thank God we always wear our seat belts.) I was in the trauma center for 4 days. My husband’s shoulder was badly strained. I have found sleeping on the couch on the side with the fractures to be the most comfortable.

  13. HI, Thanks for your wonderful article. My four broken ribs did not heal correctly.
    They are stuck now out of place for the last week. Injury occurred a year ago.
    Is there any hope?

  14. Jenny,
    Hope you’re on the way to a full recovery. I am 73 also. I fell 6 days ago using a swivel chair to get up from the floor while exercising. I broke one rib in the back. Wow! This sucker hurts. I appreciate your comments.
    When do the stabbing pains go away when you bend, get up, roll over…
    Did you find sleep illusive?

    1. Hi Jenny
      I broke my ribs on Jan 1st
      It took me 1 1/2 weeks for the pain to go down. I was also using lidocaine patches. Now I am 3 weeks and not using any pain medication.
      And this artlcle was helpfull in sleeping as I did buy recliner and it made my pain lot lot better.
      Sleeping is the biggest challenge in rib fractures.

  15. I am Rakesh Saxena 70 year old from India.Thank God I did not break my 1,2 and 3rd rib by falling flat on my face in my drive way.My lips got cut, bruised up all over,but worst was damage to rib cage.lot of swelling developed with pain.Today is fourth day and midnight.As I was unable to sleep due to mucus uprising and pain, I searched for sleep ready and found your Article.
    I have only one word for it- excellent job.

  16. 91 fell yesterdayhours ago No XR test but sure I have fractured 2-3 ribs because of the localised pain Trying not take more pain killers because of constipation
    I know that the healing will take 4-6 weeks but when does the acute severe pain ease.

  17. I’m 56 and fell off my porch and landed on my left side on a cinder block. It knocked the wind out of me. I have several large bruises. The E.R. Doctor told me I had broken ribs 5,6,7, and they are displaced plus I have bronchitis. Sleeping is hard. I live around a lot in my sleep how do I get comfortable enough?? I’m needing sleep. I’m on pain meds a few more days along with antibiotics. Please some advise what to do so my back and ribs stop sounding like someone is trying to click them together

  18. I am no stranger to breaking bones. Breaking one or two ribs, I was able to muscle through ten hour work days delivering mail, while keeping up training for triathlon and Australian rules football. If it’s going to be painful anyway, I always had fun getting lost in the process. My fractured pelvis and hip replacement 18 months ago, I thought was the most painful thing ever, but I came back, at age 60, and had some of my best races, a 2nd, 3rd, 5th, overall, a 2nd at Nationals Aquathlon, and qualifying forIronman 70.3 worlds. Looking forward for another great year, when a slippery wet bridge, broke ALL my ribs, my collarbone, blood in the lungs, and hopefully temporary heart damage. I should point out both hips held up, as my demands on them have caused bone to grow over and secure them! I was up and walking ASAP, as a regular gait enabled regular breathing. In the trauma ward, it was easy to see, my fitness, and knowing my body, put me in front of everyone. But, sleeping is impossible. Not every night is a good one. Trauma center was ridiculous, noise, lights, etc,home, sleepless is more relaxing. I’m searching for that perfect angle. Upright is the best, but the moment you slide, ouch. Not a big fan of opioids, trying to get through with ad few as possible, but they help that initial sleep. Problem, that deep slumber equals more pain. But just like in a race, I am relentless in the face of adversity, and I can see you all are depressed by the whole thing. Done this so so many times, will do it again, the joy of what I do far out ways any temporary discomfort like this. Looking for recliners online now, day 8, about 12 hours sleep since crash, sore, but my spirits soar, we can do this, and have a beer and a laugh soon enough.

    1. “the joy of what I do far out ways any temporary discomfort like this”

      I get it. Riding my horse…can’t wait to heal and be back doing what I love.

  19. Thanks for posting this. I’m a mystery writer and was just trying to research info on broken ribs for an upcoming story, but had never thought of how it would affect the character while he was sleeping. This will make my story richer and more realistic. Thanks again!

    1. 16 days ago I fell in the bathroom . I was taken to the hospital and they took x-rays I have three fractured back rib bones, #2 #3 and #6. At first I couldn’t move without severe pain. The doctor also did a CT Scan to see how bad the brakes were. I still have trouble getting comfortable. My tail bone is hurting because of sitting so much. Thank you for the suggestion I will give them a try.

  20. I am a 59 year old male who broke his strrnum on a seat belt in a car crash.

    Was a clean break with no displacement of bits.

    However, the pain is off the charts. 9/10 all the time. I have Endone tablets but I only take those to sleep. Just over 7 weeks into recovery and the pain is no better.

  21. Im 53, fell off ladder 5 weeks ago, broke 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 9th rib, each one in 2 places, so got flail chest. Horrendous pain. in Hospital for a week, morphine for 4 weeks. I sleep sat on the sofa with duvet, lucky if I get 5 hours sleep a night, usually less but it is getting easier, hopefully will try the bed in a week. Important to stay positive and know that it will get better,

  22. Great article and it has already helped me get a better sleep routine.

    I broke on the right hand side ribs 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 ( 7 of these ribs are broken more than twice) from a mountain biking crash 10 days ago. I spent 6 day in hospital.

    I’ve found that mild exercise, like walking around the block, has been great. I have also just stick to over the counter pain killers. For me understanding where I am with my pain has helped in the day and night.

    Finally I’ve done some deep relaxation and meditation, this can really help with falling asleep and maintaining natural pain control.

  23. I was t boned driver side last week. I am lucky to be alive but broke 5 ribs. I have been in excruciating pain. Pain meds barely help. I have developed a terrible cough and the pain is unbearable. I cannot sleep and have ice on now. Will try to lay on injured side . Owch

  24. Hi team I had a nasty fall on a rug that slipped under me face planted onto a concrete floor.
    Felt winded for 10 minutes but couldn’t get over the pain of my my ribs and strernump
    I Al sure I have broken several rib’s and possibly cracked my sternum.
    Problem is I contracted Covid on the same outing and can’t access medical treatment.
    Any advice would be comforting.

  25. I recently suffered a fall that may or may not have fractured my left side lower rib(s).. the pain is excruciating; my mobility is limited and can’t even think of getting to my primary.. Having read this article has helped me understand how to get some sleep and tolerate the pain. just suck it up!

  26. I had cancer in my left breast and received radiation there. Consequenty, the radiation weakened the ribs beneath that breast and made them very weak and brittle. I’m not sure how it happened but I began experiencing severe pain in that area and a trip to my doc confirmed that I have 5 fractured ribs. I also have auto immune disease so healing has been terribly slow due to the medications I must take. All of this happened six months ago, and it feels like my ribs will never heal. I still experience constant pain and feel the clicking and popping going on 24/7. Is surgery something I’ll eventually have to look forward to, to get back to normal?

  27. How long was it before you could go to sleep in a bed in a normal position? I did not fracture my ribs but damaged ribs 8 to 11 and have had laser treatment but it still pulls when I try to lie down either on my good side or my back.


  29. Hi Gabe,
    My mother in law was in a car accident 10 weeks ago. She broke several ribs (the dr plated 2) fractured her shoulder on her opposite side, fractured sternum, a few vertebrae and has a concussion. She is seeing a few different dr’s but how she should be sleeping, pain management etc doesn’t seen like it is being addressed. I’m going to print this article and see if it will help her to go in the right direction. Thank you.

  30. I broke 2 ribs in a fall around 4 weeks ago how long do I need to wait until I can start doing things around my house normal and be back to active

    1. Hi Esther, sorry about the incident. I hope you get better soon. The best person to answer this question should be your surgeon (if you had surgery) or a chiropractor. However, generally, ribs, bones, joints can take up to 12 months to fully recover. In two to 3 months you should be able to do lighter chores but don’t push yourself too hard. Your pain severity should help you determine how strong you currently are for certain activities.

  31. I fractured my 8 and 9 ribs a week ago. Sleep has been thee worst for me. Constant waking up in pain and agony all night. I thought to myself maybe I should sleep upright and then googled it and found your article. Thank you! Here’s to my first night hopefully sleeping somewhat more comfortably

  32. I am 72 fell January 19th the day after I had hand surgery I fell on my left side same side as hand surgery I broke the first 5 ribs in my back on left side I have been having horrible pain I use ice and heat I sleep on my right side now up and down all night I was given meloxicam and ambien I still have major pain in my left breast and a huge bump on my shoulder blade I can’t find a doctor that will check my ribs to see if they are healing my primary said no doctor treats ribs I am at loss can you help?

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