Early this morning, news broke that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fell in her court office this week, fracturing three of her ribs.
According to the AP, the fall took place on Wednesday evening. And after experiencing some discomfort, Ginsburg, 85, went to George Washington Hospital in Washington D.C. early Thursday morning. Once admitted, tests revealed that she had fractured three ribs, likely from the fall.
This is a health issue that Ginsburg has some previous experience with—not that she let it faze her. In 2012, she broke two ribs in a fall at home, which she worked through. “At first I thought it was nothing,” she told Reuters at the time.
A fractured rib is generally easier to deal with than one that’s fully broken, but any rib injury can have a lengthy recovery time.
In most cases, “broken” ribs are actually cracked or fractured, the Mayo Clinic says, which is a good thing: The jagged edges of fully broken ribs can actually damage your blood vessels or organs, including your lungs.
Broken ribs are usually able to heal on their own within a month or two, according to the Mayo Clinic. During that time, pain control is paramount—as is preventing complications, such as a punctured lung or aorta, or lacerations to the kidneys, liver, or spleen, which may develop if a broken rib affects the lungs or other organs.
Keeping pain under control is especially important if it prevents you from taking deep breaths, because that can put you at risk for developing pneumonia. (Fun fact: this is why doctors no longer recommend using compression wraps for treating broken ribs, according to the Mayo Clinic.) Your doctor may also suggest breathing exercises to help you take deeper breaths.