The skeletal system is made up of bones and plays 3 essential roles to help the human body work properly. Due to its strength, it protects the body and tolerates the mechanical stresses to which it is subjected. It helps maintain the correct balance of numerous mineral salts in the body, such as phosphorus and calcium. Finally, it contributes to the renewal of certain cells in the human body, such as blood cells, for example.
A rib fracture is a complete or partial break of one or more ribs. The fracture may be simple, if the rib is broken into 2 pieces, or complicated, if the rib is broken into more than 2 pieces. A rib fracture can occur as a result of a blow or direct impact to the chest in people of any age. It can also occur following violent exertion in an athlete or after a violent coughing bout in a person with or without osteoporosis. In the least severe cases, a rib fracture causes localised pain, as well as breathing difficulty and discomfort in certain sleeping positions. The pain is increased by laughing or coughing. In the most severe cases (very violent accidents), a rib fracture can cause a pneumothorax following perforation of a lung or a haemorrhage if the liver is affected.
The aim of an orthopaedic solution is to relieve pain (analgesia). It is actually impossible to immobilise a rib fracture as this would prevent breathing. The fracture will heal on its own. However, light support reduces rib cage movements and eliminates the jolts caused by coughing or laughing. Wearing a thoracic belt will provide a shock-absorbing effect and prevent the onset of sudden, sharp pain (stabbing pain).
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