Hamilton said Sunday that the injury, which forced him out of the Rangers' 12-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Saturday night, had him feeling "like I have been in a car wreck."
Hamilton would know how that feels, having been in a car accident in 2001.
And if last season's experience with a similar injury is any indication, his return may not come swiftly.
"I have no clue when I'll be back," he said Sunday. "I really don't. Your guess is as good as mine."
Last season, Hamilton, currently hitting .361 with 31 home runs, 97 RBIs and a .635 slugging percentage, was placed on the disabled list and missed 13 games after running into an outfield wall in Toronto.
There is no disabled list in September, when teams' rosters expand. But there is an AL West title the Rangers are trying to clinch as they aim for their first playoff berth since 1999 -- and the pennant that has eluded the franchise since it was founded in 1961.
"The last time it happened, I felt a lot better after a week," Hamilton said according to a report on MLB.com. "So we'll see. It's hard to put a time frame on it. Obviously there is no DL but at the same time ... how quickly can I get out there?"
Hamilton was injured Saturday in the third inning, when he hit the center-field wall and bruised the ribs on his left side while fielding a Delmon Young fly ball. He stayed in the game, but left two innings later.
X-rays on the ribs were negative and the Rangers listed Hamilton as day to day.
"Right now I want to get to a point as quickly as possible where I can swing, where I can do other things on the field [and] not going to make me have any setbacks," the All-Star outfielder said. "When I get to that point, I'll get after it."
The injury capped a difficult week for Hamilton. Last Sunday, he felt pain in his right knee as he played against the Oakland Athletics. He was moved to designated hitter Monday and Tuesday in Kansas City and then had a shot of Synvisc, a lubricant designed to relieve inflammation, after Tuesday's game.
"With those ribs, you've got to give him a few days," manager Ron Washington said. "I'm not going to question Hamilton. I'd say it is day to day."
Hamilton was given Wednesday off and was the DH on Friday in Minnesota. But late in Friday's game,
he came out after a joint in his lower back "locked up" on him. He had it adjusted and felt good enough to play Saturday in the outfield.
That didn't last long after he ran into the wall.
"It was like last year in Toronto, when my arm hit the wall and went into my ribs," Hamilton said Saturday. "I'm day to day right now. That's the way it's going to be. It will just depend on how I feel each day."
Information from ESPNDallas.com's Richard Durrett was used in this report.