OK, I'm an A&E doc so I suppose I should wade in to this with some sort of answer:
Rib fractures/breaks/cracks/damage to the bony bits/whatever you want to call it:
Nothing we can do to fix the broken bones/nothing needs doing to fix the broken bones, therefore firing masses of radiation at your chest is a bad thing. We will probably give you some decent painkillers (if you have been polite and not an arsehole).
Will take about 4-6 weeks to get better, probably get a bit worse before getting better and will occasionally get worse during the healing process when you sneeze/turn a bit quick.
Bruised chest wall/bruised ribs/whatever you want to call it:
As above, no treatment to fix it, no x-ray required, decent analgesia. May get a bit worse before it gets better, will take 3-4 weeks to get better.
Mutliple rib fractures (>4ish):
May well require some time in hospital as it will be **** painful and we might ask the nice anaesthetic doctors to put in some sort of nerve block.
Will leave you short of breath, will get an x-ray if we suspect it after looking/listening to you, and will probably require me to stick a great big drain in your chest to fix it (my fave ever procedure).
I think that about covers it....