Rib Pain

Dr. William Tisol explains rib plating surgery to stabilize ribs after a fracture and the benefits of surgery for the healing process.

If it’s hard to take a deep breath, twist your body, or put pressure on your chest, it’s possible you might have injured your ribs. The specialists at Aurora’s Rib Fracture and Chest Wall Pain Clinics are here to diagnose and treat your rib injury to help you heal.

Rib pain can happen on either side of your body where your rib cage is located, below your neck and above your belly button. The pain might be sharp or dull. There are many possible causes of rib pain, such as a pulled muscle, a bruised rib, an internal injury, a fractured (broken) rib, muscle spasms or inflamed cartilage. Sometimes rib pain or chest wall pain is a symptom of something more serious, like bone cancer or a heart attack.

A rib fracture is the most common chest injury in the U.S. However, only 7 percent of people with rib fractures will need to be hospitalized because of it.

Rib pain and rib fractures can happen at any age and there can be a wide variety of causes. For example:

  • The most common reason that youths injure a rib is during contact sport games, such as hockey or football.
  • For adults, car accidents are the most common cause of a rib pain.
  • Among the elderly, the most common cause of a rib fracture is falling.  

If you have unexplained rib pain, we can help determine what’s causing the issue and provide treatment options to help alleviate your pain. Call 844-896-4694 to schedule an appointment at one of our Rib Fracture and Chest Wall Pain Clinics:

Aurora Medical Center in Summit
Aurora Medical Center in Grafton

Common Treatments for Rib Pain

When you make an appointment with us, our first goal is to figure out what’s causing your rib pain. Our doctors will ask you a few questions about your pain and perform a physical exam.

Minor rib injuries, such as pulled or bruised muscles, can be treated with cold compresses and over-the-counter medicine. Sometimes, rib pain happens because your muscles, cartilage and/or ligaments are inflamed. If that’s the case, your doctor may recommend anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the pain and swelling.

If your pain started after a fall or trauma, an X-ray will help diagnose whether any of your ribs have been broken. But if you’ve been in pain for a long time and it is unrelated to trauma, your doctor may use a CT scan to help diagnose the issue.

For rib fractures, treatment depends on the type of pain and the severity of your injury. You will be presented with a variety of treatment options, surgical and non-surgical, all integrated and coordinated through a nurse navigator who will help you through every step of the process. Some of these treatments might involve integrative medicine, pain management, surgery, physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Rib Fracture Stabilization

A broken rib is a painful experience and can take six weeks to six months to heal.

But for those who’ve suffered from multiple broken ribs, complicated fractures or who have an active lifestyle, there’s a way we can help you recover faster and less painfully: rib fracture stabilization.

Performed by Aurora Health Care’s Dr. William Tisol, the technique involves putting a titanium plate across the fracture.  

Your ribs cannot be put in a cast like other broken bones because ribs are constantly moving. Every time you move or breathe, your ribs go up and down. With the rib fracture stabilization procedure, the new rib plates mimic the ribs. Each plate “moves” with the rib up and down when you breathe, but still holds firm. Most patients are out of the hospital five days after surgery and recover quickly.

Aurora Health Care is one of the only health care systems in southeastern Wisconsin where you can receive this Food and Drug Administration-approved surgery for broken ribs.

Contact Us

If you are experiencing rib pain or chest wall pain, call 844-896-4694 to schedule an appointment at one of Aurora’s rib clinics:

Aurora Medical Center in Summit
Aurora Medical Center in Grafton