Rib Fracture Care

Why Choose Us?

MUSC Health is a national leader in rib fracture care. We provide evaluation and nonsurgical care and also offer sophisticated treatments including rib fixation technology. This innovative procedure secures multiple broken ribs or ribs with multiple breaks so you can heal.

In the past, this option was available to only the sickest patients. But our experts are successfully treating less severe cases with these customizable devices. Our team is helping more people recover faster, while feeling less pain, so they can get back to their busy lives.

Chest Wall Injury Society Collaborative Center
MUSC Health is recognized as a Chest Wall Injury Collaborative Center with the Chest Wall Injury Society.

About Rib Fracture Treatment

Rib fractures (broken ribs) are cracks in bone tissue that occur after a hard hit to the chest. Causes include car accidents, sports injuries and bad falls. You may have symptoms such as chest pain that feels worse with movements such as coughing, sneezing or breathing.

Minor rib fractures often heal on their own. But if you think you have broken ribs, it’s important to seek care immediately. Timely evaluation from MUSC Health experts enables us to determine how serious the injury is and whether you need additional treatments. Read more about our emergency department.

Sometimes, cracked ribs sink inward toward the lungs, which can cause collapsed lungs and pneumonia. More severe fractures, especially injuries to many ribs or multiple cracks in one rib, require specialized care, such as rib fixation. Surgeons implant a combination of tiny plates, splints and screws to hold ribs in place while they heal.

Rib Fracture Care at MUSC Health: Why Choose Us?

MUSC Health is home to a comprehensive chest wall injury program in South Carolina with in-house rib fracture specialists. Our experience from treating a high volume of cracked ribs helps us deliver appropriate treatment for common and complex injuries. You receive the care that’s best for your individual circumstances.

Our offerings include:

  • Outpatient Care and Next-Day Telehealth Visits: Broken or fractured ribs can be a painful and serious injury, so it is important to seek care at a Level 1 Trauma Center. MUSC Health is the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving the Lowcountry and our team of experts offer inpatient and outpatient evaluation and ongoing management for rib fractures.

    If you think you have a broken or fractured rib or were discharged from another facility with a rib fracture diagnosis, MUSC Health offers next day visits via telehealth or in-person appointment to assess non-surgical care and pain management.
  • Coordinated services: The first step of rib fracture care often involves a visit to the emergency room. MUSC Health’s emergency physicians communicate with our rib fracture specialists to plan the next steps of your care. You receive timely therapies, including rib fixation surgery, when they’re likely to provide the greatest benefit.
  • Nonsurgical care: In many cases, cracked ribs heal on their own. But if you can’t have or don’t need rib fixation surgery, we can still help you feel better. Many of our patients achieve lasting pain relief without strong medications. We use a combination of therapies that may include anti-inflammatory medicines, muscle relaxers and mild pain medications.
  • Innovation and education: We share our knowledge with doctors all over the country through publications and speaking engagements. Our experts also take part in national efforts establishing new care guidelines for rib fixation surgery. And we’re training the next generation of doctors in our medical school.

Second Opinions for Rib Fracture Care With Rib Fixation Surgery

Patients from all over South Carolina look to our team for second opinions on treatments for broken ribs. We also offer hope for healing to people who have previously been told they have no treatment options. You’ll have an expert evaluation to understand your injury. If rib fixation is right for you, we’ll let you know what to expect.

National Leadership in Rib Fracture Care

MUSC Health is rewriting the book on care for broken ribs. Our participation in groundbreaking research is improving rib fixation surgery results and making it available to more patients.

Rib fixation surgery has typically only been available to patients at the highest risk of serious complications. With traditional treatment, these patients often experienced breathing problems and lung infections that required weeks of intensive care.

Now, MUSC Health is among a select group of programs working to understand the effectiveness of rib fixation surgery in patients with less severe injuries. These efforts have determined that rib fixation is safe and effective in many uncomplicated cases.

We’ve learned that using fixation surgery to restore the natural position of the ribs improves quality of life and decreases pain. Some people also experience shorter hospital stays and start feeling better days after surgery.