A rib belt is an elastic strap that may help reduce pain from chest muscle strain or rib fracture. The belt limits motion in the chest and can help relieve pain from the chest wall and ribs. However, if worn too long, the rib belt can sometimes cause pneumonia or other problems. This is because it reduces the air flow into your lungs.
You can help avoid this problem by opening the belt and taking several very deep breaths once an hour while you're awake. As you breathe out, purse your lips as if you if you were blowing up a balloon. If possible, actually blow up a balloon or a rubber glove. This exercise builds up pressure inside the lung and prevents collapse of the small air sacs of the lung. This exercise may cause some pain at the site of injury, which is normal. Sometimes a special device called an incentive spirometer may be given for this purpose.
Call 911 if you have:
Shortness of breath
Increasing chest pain with breathing
Dizziness, weakness, or fainting
Development or worsening of abdominal pain
When to seek medical advice
Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:
Pain over injured area increases
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider
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