Given the high level of competition on this season’s Dancing with the Stars, injuries to the celebrities is nearly a given.
The latest occurred on Thursday, when former Wonder Years actress turned mathematician, Danica McKellar was injured during a rehearsal with partner Val Chmerkovskiy. She put this message out on Twitter:
Undaunted, Danica did rehearse on Friday but admitted: “it’s tough dancing with a broken rib.
@iamvalc choreographed an amazing routine- fingers crossed I can pull it off!”
Good luck Danica!
There are twelve pairs of ribs, connecting to the spine in the back, and by cartilage extensions (called the costal cartilages) to the breastbone (sternum) in the front. This space is called the thoracic cage. The ribcage has two main functions-the first being protection of the delicate vital organs within it – the heart and lungs.
The second is its participation in the process of breathing. Between each rib is a muscle called an intercostal muscle. Across the floor of the ribcage is the large muscular diaphragm. During an inspiration, the diaphragm contracts and flattens, and the intercostal muscles contract, pulling the ribs up and out. This action causes a partial vacuum within the thoracic cage, which pulls air into the lungs. On expiration, the muscles relax, and air is expelled from the lungs.
Blunt force is the primary cause of rib injuries, such as occurs in sports, motor vehicle accidents, or crush injuries to the chest. Injuries can occur to the soft tissues, or to the ribs themselves:
Soft tissue injuries
Soft tissue of the ribcage includes the intercostal muscles and the costal cartilage. Common injuries include:
The curved design of the ribs makes them resistant to fractures. Their ability to flex helps the bone to absorb the force of a blow. However,any bone will break if the force exerted against it is stronger than it can structurally withstand. A rib is most likely to fracture at its outer curve, which is its weakest point.
Risk factors for rib fractures include:
Treatment consists of rest, and pain relief, usually with over the counter medications like Tylenol or Ibuprofen. In the past, elastic bandages were wrapped around the chest to act as a kind of splint for the fracture. They are not used as much today as they may prevent the injured person from taking deep breaths, which could lead to pneumonia (infection in the lung).