If you notice that your ribs are starting to swell, you can almost assume that it is because there is a fracture, especially if this occurs after a traumatic event. A rib is not a body part that can be simply sprained. This means that if you are having symptoms, you can typically assume that you have broken your rib.
If your ribs start to swell after a traumatic event, you need to get to the emergency room as fast as possible in order to have the area looked at. If you do not get medical attention right away you can make the injury worse. The swelling can actually point to a rib that is broken and about to puncture an organ.
Make sure that you ice the area right after the event has occurred. This will help the swelling go down naturally. Ice packs can be used throughout the healing process in order to help keep the area cool.