Pneumothorax and broken rib

After several months of diligent following TR plan indoor through winter, buying first ever deep wheel rims and riding them twice (and o boy have they felt fast)…I fell on my back with a commuter bike on wet asphalt at 10km/h…broke a rib and suffered a big pneumothorax on right lung :dotted_line_face:…spent 6 days in hospital (3 days at intensive care and another three in trauma care)…lung seem to have inflated back to normal, but the pain still is here after 14 days…Popping 15 pills/day, couching 22h/day, when a simple walk feels like a threshold effort, being weeks (months?) away from anything remotely similar to my condition prior to accident, makes it so hard to see the light right now…

Any positive input from those with similar experience would be very appreciated.

Stay safe and be aware of surface conditions at all times :zipper_mouth_face:

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@rackopacko I had a guy whack me with a closet rod once, break a bunch of ribs on my right side, and collpse the lung. I crashed during a gravel race once and broke all the ribs on the left side of my body (except the short rib), collapsed a lung, etc. Plus I’ve had collapsed lungs related to asthma 5x. So I’ve got some experience in this area.

I would say that after the chest tube(s) come out, recovery starts to happen pretty quick but just generally it takes a long time before you feel normal after a broken rib. Just in terms of comfort. Especially after the bike race problems, I never felt like I could breath the same again…like that sort of deep relaxed breathing that happens when you’re sleeping…I never got that again.

But just in terms of discomfort, probably the first time I could sit comfortably in a recliner & just feel total comfort and be relaxed…ummm…sometime around that 3 to 4 week period after the chest tubes come out.

I hope that’s an exaggeration! Ha! I think I took 7 Norco the whole ordeal. If I had to take regular Norco (or similar) throughout the entire period of discomfort it would have been a problem for me by the time the injury was mostly healed.

:open_mouth: Heal fast @rackopacko !
I have somehow never managed to break a bone (at least not knowingly). I had someone come flying round a blind bend on a cyclepath put their bar end into my chest. I thought nothing of it and cycled the 10miles home. The next morning I couldn’t put my arm behind my back. It was like that for several weeks until I got on the bike, only then did it ease off. On hindsight I probably cracked or broke a rib. The only real thing of note really, is the body is amazing at healing it self.


About 10 years ago I managed to break both collarbones, get a pneumothorax and fracture my pelvis.

I recovered.

You will recover.

I am not going to give you a timespan.
I did try and measure everything against ‘one little victory’.
For my stretches, I tried to do it more often or stretch a bit further every day. I did try and walk a bit further every day. I remember sitting on the turbo and doing 10 minutes and then next day 11 minutes etc.

So follow your physio’s advice , but make sure that they know you are a regular cyclist and that you are used to following a training plan successfully so you will definitely follow a physio plan.

You will recover.

Best of luck!

I’ve mercifully escaped any experience with pneumothorax, but have cracked a rib in my back in a crash. Pain when not under any load went down to a manageable level within a few days and I was able to spin easy on the trainer almost straight away (it also helped ease muscle tension and aid recovery). The real killer was that I couldn’t sleep unless laying completely motionless on my back. Breathing hurt, shifting my weight woke me up, laying on my side was unbearable, and sleeping on my front didn’t work either. Took about 4 weeks before my sleep was recognisably ‘normal’ again, and just as the doctor predicted, it was almost exactly 6 weeks to the day when I was no longer in any kind of discomfort.

From what others are saying it sounds like the soft tissue injuries from the pneumothorax are significantly more painful but will also heal much faster than the ribs. Ribs are tough and a full break rather than a crack might change your timeline a bit, but whether it’s six, eight, or ten weeks that’s really not that long once you’re looking back on it ten months later. You’ll get there!

I had 3 ribs, 2 vertebrae, collarbone, and pneumothorax. I think Tylenol is the best thing to dull the pain, with the narcotics only at night so you can sleep. Don’t let yourself get too undisciplined with the narcotics; when I ran out of my prescription I found myself missing them, even though I only took a half-pill every night before bed.

I had the chest tube in for 2 days. The pneumothorax didn’t seem too bad to me, but the broken ribs make the pain from everything else pale in comparison.

My CTL went from mid-70s to 35 at its lowest. I spent a month on the indoor bike, and when I finally got outdoors again, everything ached (there’s no substitute for longer outdoor rides, I suppose).

Don’t feel bad about the 10 km/hr crash – years ago I crashed at an even slower speed as I was slowing down with a front flat (I think I must have grabbed the front brake) and broke some ribs and dislocated a shoulder (lung was fine though, thankfully).

To give an idea what you might expect, here is how long it took to get CTL back up (the part labeled ‘indoors’ is just after my crash):

When you start up again, a half-hour in Zone 1 will tire you out, so just don’t get discouraged.

10 years ago I cracked 8 ribs, 1 clavicle and suffered a pneumothorax from a race crash. One night in the ER and back on the bike after a couple months iirc. No lasting ill effects that I can tell besides slightly deformed rib/chest/clavicle bones from healing.

Our bodies are amazing but, events like this do take energy to heal. No rush to get back is my advise.

some friendly internet advice from a stranger…I assume youre talking about narcotics? Thats WAAAAAAAAAYYYYY too much. #1, youre asking for addiction at 2 weeks taking that much. You can call it whatever name brand you want, its Heroin in pill form. #2, they impair breathing, especially at these doses. You need to be working on breathing. Get off the couch and walk. Accept that its gonna hurt and just do it

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Thank you @Brennus for your honest input…reading “never felt like I could breath the same again…like that sort of deep relaxed breathing that happens when you’re sleeping…I never got that again” makes it kind of blue…also…all the damage your body has suffered through seem cruel as it gets…
Still need to get my head around the thought that what seemed to be a self given cycling privilege is off the charts for couple months…oh yes…no opioids among pills…

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Thank you @HLaB …will take your “advice” literally and jump on the bike, bit by bit every day, as much as discomfort allows…someone wrote, discomfort is ok, pain isn’t…

Yes @alexfthenakis …I have exactly same sleeping problems now, 8h of undisturbed sleep seems like something from other life…finding comfortable position is impossible some times…all that makes it even harder to tamper mood swings…reading responses here makes it what i hoped it would…a bit easier…Thank you!

Ouuuha @Pipipi …that’s “impressive” list of injuries…managed to spend 20mins on trainer yesterday, so i guess i have starting stretch going for me as well :man_facepalming:
Thank you for positive and determined input.

Thank you a lot @JulianFishtown your kind and valuable thoughts and insights.

Thank you @KorbenDallas
8 ribs aaand… :cold_face: so nice to read no ill effects…2much in love with cycling makes it hard to resist the rush…thank you for positive input :+1:

Uou @Chawski, I am not sure in my knowledge about different types of medicines, also English isn’t my first language, but I think no narcotics on the list, since they(Paleksia) went off the menu on the day of leaving the hospital.
prescribed dose for every 8 hours:
1 x 400mg Brufen
2 x (actually lowered to 1) 500mg Delaron (paracetamol)
2 x (actually lowered to 1) 500mg Alogominal (metamizolum natricum monohydricum)
Been two and a half weeks since…almost no pain for 6 hours if resting and if i take full dose…walking is painful regardless, but i do it for about 1 hour every day…did 20min @close to zero watts on a trainer yesterday and it was easier than walking, but have felt it on the back later on through the day…also, thank you for internet advice, you friendly stranger :grinning:


I think you liked my post on the older thread (when I crashed in a race). Only thing I’d update is that it’s no longer my most consistent block - that was Covid Lockdown now :grinning: The trainer felt more productive than blowing up surgical gloves or balloons which was the exercise option I was also given!

fwiw I was told by the consultant at least 6 weeks but they’d prefer 8 weeks before I could go out on the bike when I broke ribs in a crash.

However, because I punctured a lung they were happy for me to get straight back up on the turbo. Started off with 2-3 weeks easy but then was fairly quick into a General Build! Probably my most consistent block ever!

Just to say, I did go out after 8 weeks, but it was another couple of weeks before I was ready for a group spin - just because I was still sore rather than mental.

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Hey, just to round the thread up…after 6 weeks and a half, my health is much, much better…almost perfect. Was able to sleep normally after one month and just got to walk normally without any pain a week ago, which took much longer than being comfortable on road bike. Started with very, very low intensity on a trainer 3 weeks after accident (that is when i completely got off the pills) and been on a bike outside a few times after 5 weeks. I lost about 15-20% of fitness and i still can’t ride above (previous) threshold, but that will be remedied before I will be finishing, yet another, base phase. I have been over dramatic when I started this thread…the pain and shallow breath were real, but so were your responses and I must express ultimate gratitude for all your kind words. I wish you all a good cycling season and all the luck needed to stay healthy and positive.