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Last week I crashed hard. The bike's okay:) , but I sustained a few injuries. Besides road rash, I wrenched my shoulder, bruised my hip, and cracked a few ribs. My helmet saved me from definite concussion. My question to anyone who has ever broken their ribs is, how long before I can expect to get back on the bike? Right now breathing is painful and I don't think I could handle the bumps just yet. I was hoping to train for a century ride in mid-October. I hope my time recuperating doesn't set me back too much.
 

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Roll Out Jeremy
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The standard answer

Whether it works for you or not is six weeks....
 

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I've had two instances of cracked ribs (I'm guessing cracked over broken - when there's that much pain, it doesn't matter).
I'd say 4 weeks (maybe 5), keep the climbing and out of saddle work to as low as possible.
 

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Same Here

The Weasel said:
I've had two instances of cracked ribs (I'm guessing cracked over broken - when there's that much pain, it doesn't matter).
I'd say 4 weeks (maybe 5), keep the climbing and out of saddle work to as low as possible.
It's happened to me twice also. Five weeks the first time, six the second. But if you're a runner also, expect to wait longer to get back to running - like eight weeks.
 

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I was told as soon as I could tolerate the pain I could get back on the bike (both times).

I was back on the bike in two weeks, but just spinning easy at first.
 

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Rocket Scientist
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From someone who's broken their ribs four times in two seasons:

1) Get back on your bike right away. Seriously. I have done it both ways and now, I try to race again as soon as possible. It's painful but it really helps. The only thing that really disturbs it for me is climbing. I feel when I'm out of the saddle pulling, the ribs aren't stable at all. I hear the cracking and feel the moving around a lot more than if I'm steady in the saddle.

2) After 2 weeks, you definitely turn the corner on it. Enough healing has taken place that the two parts don't move around nearly as much.

3) Watch the soft tissue damage. Sometimes, the soft tissue damage is more painful than the actual broken ribs and takes longer to heal.

4) Don't baby it. I have found that they feel better and more quickly when you treat it as business as usual.

You should be fine for your century. I wouldn't think twice about it.
 

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depends on age & the break

+1 Fordy, 6 weeks is the stock answer. But your age & nature of the break also plays in.

Your body heals more slowly as you age. Adolescents through teens can grow a bone together in 2 weeks. Mid 20's you approach 4 wks. 30-50 gets you the 6 week estimate. "Golden Years" are so special. . .the elderly get a 12 wk "sentence." But it's all an average or a range. . .not specific like a torque wrench setting!

Nature of the break also makes a difference. If they are cracked you can be back at it a lot sooner than a complete break. Multiple rib fractures vs. one? You get the idea. Also, +1 Sherpa's comment about the soft tissue. Tearing the connective tissue between ribs (intercostal tissue) hurts a lot longer than the broken ribs.

Most orthopaedic guys will tell you it's ok to start back moderately whenever you feel up to it (assuming a simple rib fracture.) All that said, ribs hurt like hell the first couple weeks, then you'll start seeing huge improvement each week. Hang in there!
 

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What does your doctor say?

First- did you have x-rays and confirmed that the ribs are broken? I fractured 4 ribs about ten years ago and I was in the hospital for 8 days. If you fracture ribs you are apt to take shallow breaths and if you get a cold you can come down with pneumonia. I was so sore I had problems just getting out of bed. If the ribs are just bruised, that is something else. if they are indeed broken then your doctor will tell you when you can get back on your bike. For me it was 8 weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the opinions. It sounds like I have two obstacles: 1) age-I'm 40 and 2) terrain-there are no routes in my area that don't have hills. As for now, I have trouble even getting out of bed and can barely handle things I used to take for granted. I can't wait to get back on the bike though and already feel like I'm losing fitness and gaining weight. It sucks.
 

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psychorider said:
Thanks for the opinions. It sounds like I have two obstacles: 1) age-I'm 40 and 2) terrain-there are no routes in my area that don't have hills. As for now, I have trouble even getting out of bed and can barely handle things I used to take for granted. I can't wait to get back on the bike though and already feel like I'm losing fitness and gaining weight. It sucks.
Actually, you have 2 things working for you: Age & terrain both say this is the perfect time to buy a trainer. Do some web shopping & order a Kurt Kinetic. Once you are breathing easier and moving without intense pain, start doing easy spinning in front of the tv. The key word being easy spinning. The other key word is buy a trainer.

You'll thank me later! :thumbsup:
 

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Dinosaur said:
First- did you have x-rays and confirmed that the ribs are broken? I fractured 4 ribs about ten years ago and I was in the hospital for 8 days. If you fracture ribs you are apt to take shallow breaths and if you get a cold you can come down with pneumonia. I was so sore I had problems just getting out of bed. If the ribs are just bruised, that is something else. if they are indeed broken then your doctor will tell you when you can get back on your bike. For me it was 8 weeks.
They generally don't x-ray ribs because the treatment is pretty much the same whether they are broken, cracked, bruised, or whatever: essentially, you take it easy until it stops hurting. Plus it saves you the expense and the radiation exposure. As to when you can resume riding, it depnds on the severity of the injury. Your doctor can advise you. But it should be ok to ride when it doesn't hurt too much.

It's been a while since I last hurt my ribs, but I don't remember being off the bike for a long time. A couple of weeks at the most.
 

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X-rays

freethinker said:
They generally don't x-ray ribs because the treatment is pretty much the same whether they are broken, cracked, bruised, or whatever: essentially, you take it easy until it stops hurting. Plus it saves you the expense and the radiation exposure. As to when you can resume riding, it depends on the severity of the injury. Your doctor can advise you. But it should be ok to ride when it doesn't hurt too much.

It's been a while since I last hurt my ribs, but I don't remember being off the bike for a long time. A couple of weeks at the most.

It's been ten years. I had x-rays. I had 4 fractured ribs, possibly 5. All I know it that it hurt like hell (not as much as a broken hip). My doctor said I could get back on after 8 weeks. When I got back on my bike, I was fine. Mine were pretty bad, I had to use a cane to get around for awhile. All because of a blown front tire.
 
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