Suspect I've got a fracture / broken / bruised rib - where should I go?

Lovely day cycling yesterday, but the roads are a bit wet, and accidents do happen, and a day later, nope, something’s weird with my upper left side; I suspect it’s a bruised or fractured rib, but I’d like to get a professional opinion beyond Doctor Google or Doctor Forumosa.

My question: where should I go? I’m in Danshui, so my default assumption is Mackay Hospital (beside Zhuwei MRT Station). But are there smaller clinics that also can handle this kind of thing? @the_bear, you’ve talked about X-ray clinics - would that be a better place to start? There’s also a physio place down the road, and I’ve gone there for knee injuries in the past - but I suspect that’s a place I’ll wind up, rather than start.

So main question, where should I go: big hospital, or smaller nearby clinics? Secondary question, what are key words I should look for online if I try to book a time, rather than just show up and presumably wind up at the end of a very long queue? (Very limited Chinese, but if I know what I’m looking for I can usually muddle by with help from Google Translate.)

Thanks in advance!

(Questions about how the hell to get a good night’s sleep without waking up in pain every time I roll over will come later.)

I’d go straight to Mackay.

Hope you get well soon!



In all honestly, there’s absolutely no real reason to see a doctor for a broken rib if that’s it. Nothing they can do. Especially not in Taiwan where all they will give you is the acetaminophen you can get anywhere. Can’t even get the good stuff.

But since Taiwan’s NHI makes it cheap, doesn’t hurt to check it and lose out on some time.


At minimum, they’d take x-rays and LOA would have a clearer sense of:

a) the problem; and
b) how and when it will heal.



Whoah, three replies in a couple of minutes. Thanks guys!

It’s probably true that a doctor can’t give me much useful advice for how to treat a broken (bruised?) rib. But I do need a doctor to tell me if that’s what it is. This is a new one for me. I’m fairly sure I know what the procedure is - rest for a month (so much for the Apple Watch’s exercise rings!), but I want to get that diagnosis just to be sure.

Plus, I’d like to have medical evidence if this is genuinely the first broken bone of my life! Woo hoo! Always avoided that before. God damn, I jinxed myself in class a few weeks ago, using “I’ve never broken a bone” as an example in some present perfect grammar exercise. I have a feeling that flinging Freddie Mercury in a hole also led to some bad karma.

If I go to Mackay: current assumption is walk to the information desk, with “fractured rib” open in Pleco dictionary app, attempt my (dismal) best to communicate, and see what happens. To be honest that usually gets pretty good results - ah, white privilege. Any more streamlined suggestions, especially about trying to book a time slot with a specific clinic / department?

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Go for it, take advantage of the health care you pay into.

Hope you heal up soon. A broken ribs suck. Going to hurt for a good 2 weeks, the annoying constant little pain. But you’ll be alright.

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I’d go straight to emergency. You had an accident, and you’d like a diagnosis soon.



I feel a bit bad about that since it doesn’t feel urgent, but yeah, that does seem the best approach. Below are the different Mackay clinics for online registration, and none really seem appropriate. (The picture’s just a screenshot, so people who see this, don’t try to click on the different departments!)

I’d say orthopedics but I don’t know

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At Mackay you might as well present at emergency. I’ve been there before for skull fractures. You’ll go straight for an X-ray to locate any fractures then probably transfer to an orthopedic.

Your magic word otherwise is Guke 骨科 which is orthopaedic.


OK, I’ll probably head there this afternoon. I’ve got to meet some students from 12-1pm today, and then I’m free. Heading to a hospital at 8am and hoping to make a 12 noon appointment seems unduly optimistic.

I’d probably just book an appointment at orthopedics this afternoon if you can (have you been there before? I don’t remember whether Mackay lets new patients book appointments online or if you need to register first - I think it’s the former but not 100% sure).

My experience with Mackay (Shuanglian branch) is that many of the doctors tend to have a lot of patients and need to stay after the supposed clinic hours, so if you’re going for the afternoon clinic I imagine you’d be fine arriving before 4pm, even if needing to register. You’ll probably have a pretty high number if you register today anyway. I haven’t found the wait times to be too terrible though (if only because I tend to arrive 3 minutes before the closing time :sweat_smile:).

Or just say sod it and go to the ER. Good luck!

Edit: I should clarify the 4pm comment above - it seems the cutoff time for afternoon appointments is 4pm, so probably better to arrive a little earlier than that if you can’t register online:

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Ultrasound can also be used to diagnose rib fractures. If you don’t have serious pain I would not worry, but always good to have it checked out.

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As mentioned above, the doctor can’t really do anything except give pain medication, but I’d for sure get the x-rays.

Yep, I feel your pain @lostinasia . I’ve fractured multiple ribs in two separate accidents and each time it took a month for me to be able to do the simplest things without pain, like roll over in bed. Coughing and sneezing were the worst!


I wonder how many times I can change my mind about what I’m going to do today! I’ve booked an appointment with orthopedics for one of their afternoon sessions (only one doctor there today); I’m #47, which … concerns me. Well, I know they do often just reserve “alternate” numbers, so who knows what #47 means.

The process was easy: entered APRC number and birthdate (the fields are slightly misaligned: the birthdate field is next to the password one), and no password because it said don’t enter a password if you don’t have one. And it booked me. I’ve been a patient at Mackay (too) many times before, so I’m in their “regular” system, but I’m not sure if I’ve actually used their online system before.

I wouldn’t be surprised if I arrive at the hospital, see a giant queue at orthopedics, and no queue at emergency, and wind up cancelling the orthopedics appointment in lieu of emergency instead - especially since I’m not sure where precisely I should go for a first visit.

Based on all of 20 hours so far, I’ve been surprised by the difference between sitting / standing and lying down. Making & eating breakfast, sitting at a computer, feeding the cats - as you say @Andrew0409, just an annoying constant little pain. It’s why I wasn’t really concerned yesterday. But in bed? Oof. It got a lot worse, perhaps especially because I’m a side sleeper. (Well, I’m still not that concerned, but based on last night it’s definitely at the level of “OK, I’d better have a doctor look at this, just to make sure it is what I think it is.”)

EDIT: kind of a bummer this happens at the busiest time of the semester, when I’m about to face a ton of marking and paperwork. Christmas and winter weather would normally be a great time to just get stupid with computer games and TV shows and movies. But I guess if I have to be off my bike for a month, December-January in Taipei is the time to do it.

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That doesn’t sound particularly high to be honest, don’t worry. I’m sure I’ve had numbers in the 90s previously. You can actually check the clinic progress under the “outpatient service progress” option at the top of the page you posted before so you can gauge when to head there.

True, that’s their system. :grin:

I honestly don’t find the wait times to be too terrible 90% of the time. I’ve usually been seen within say 30 min at most. As I said though, I often arrive late rather than showing up when the clinic opens just to sit around, as it seems some like to do.

I don’t think getting lost should be an issue - just take a screenshot of your appointment to show people (I think the department name is written in Chinese?) and/or follow the signage/maps (mostly in English as well I think?).

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Sounds like a broken rib to me. It hurts more laying down since your chest needs to push up for lungs to breathe.

Feel better soon.

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Just out of curiosity, what actually hurts with broken/fractured ribs? Is it the bone, the damaged bone hitting the pleura/muscles/“meat”, or something else?

I seem to get costochondritis from time to time (inflammation of the cartilage around the sternum, just above the heart) when doing strenuous things like sleeping in my usual position or moving in a certain way (or occasionally something reasonable like carrying 35 kg of groceries back from Costco :sweat_smile:), and that’s a bitch to deal with, not least because it’s hard to think you’re not having a heart attack at the time. I think I’ve seen like 4 cardiologists, 2 rheumatologists, and an ER doctor now (everything normal, of course). The only solution I’ve found is…Tiger Balm. :thinking:

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The tissue in the trauma area and probably inflammation in the area. Is bad cases, the bone or pieces of bones might be poking into things in there.