A bruised kidney can lead to significant pain and discomfort. If not diagnosed and treated early, it properly may lead to serious kidney problems and even death.
Here’s an in-depth look into this common consequence of road accidents and other incidents that cause traumatic injuries to the kidneys.
What are the symptoms of a bruised kidney? The unique location of kidneys in the flank (deep inside the back of the upper abdomen) provides them with adequate protection from external forces.
In that area, they get protection form not only the abdomen itself but also from the strong back muscles, the spine, and lower rib cages.
There is a good reason for this: kidneys have a particularly large supply of blood and injury to them can cause significant bleeding.
- You can still sustain a bruised kidney, otherwise known as a kidney contusion, nevertheless as a result of direct traumatic impact to the lower back that causes damages to blood vessels in the kidney.
- You are also likely to get rib cage contusions and injuries.
This is usually attributed to car accidents but any other factor that causes a significant blow to this area can as well cause a bruised kidney.
These include a fall, physical assaults e.g. when kicked on the back, and injuries during sport activities e.g. getting hit by a hockey stick.
Most cases of bruises are as a result of blunt forces e.g. car accidents but some are serious and may lead to complications such as kidney failure, delayed bleeding, infection, and high blood pressure if the right medical treatment is not sought.
Kidney bruising is associated with bleeding inside the kidney.
Pain is the most important symptom of injury or infection. It is usually felt in the upper abdomen right away from the time of impact. It is also felt in the lower area of the back – especially the area between the ribs and flank – usually on one side.
Tenderness is also commonly experienced in the flank and abdomen areas.
Bruising (discoloration) of the skin is yet another common bruised symptom of internal bruising. It is usually experienced at the point of impact e.g. where the impact of the seat belt was absorbed.
Other symptoms of kidney contusion include nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, and muscle spasms in the lower back area.
Severe cases of contusion can also cause other secondary symptoms such as low blood pressure and anemia (usually as a result of losing too much blood).
Very severe cases of bruising and injury may even lead to death when a kidney’s attachment to blood vessels is torn leading to excessive bleeding.
Common diagnoses include:
- Urine tests
- MRI and CT scans
As part of the diagnosis, your doctor or nurse will undertake a physical examination and ask you several questions in relation to your symptoms and history of events leading to the bruising or injury.
For example; did you sustain a blow to your back or abdomen? Your doctor might also ask you about any recent illnesses.
Physical examination involves looking for evidence of excessive bleeding or hemorrhage, extreme tenderness, shock (usually by checking the rate of the heart and pressure) and signs of kidney failure.
Urinalysis is also often done to test for the presences of traces of blood in your urine. Your doctor may also require that an X-ray is done to check for more serious injuries such as fractured ribs. MRI and CT scans may also be necessary to ascertain that there is no internal bleeding.
Bruised kidney from a fall
“I suffered a bruised kidney from a fall off a tree while playing with my friends in the neighborhood yesterday. Today in the morning, I noticed some specks of blood in my urine and I am really scared.
I am afraid to tell my parents as they could get angry with me. Is this a serious condition or will it go away on its own (and luckily without having to involve my parents)?” Jim
Most bruising in the abdominal area can be caused by accidental falls.
The severity of kidney bruising and injury varies depending on the degree of impact sustained on this vital organ. Blood leaking into urine is a common symptom of kidney injuries, but it is always a good idea to have a doctor or any other medical professional check you.
Your safest course of action is to book an appointment with your doctor right away. And yes, it is also important to involve your parents in this.
Pain on sides of abdomen
Abdominal pain goes hand in hand with bruising and contusion of the kidney. This is usually attributed to the injuries sustained as well as the other sites affected by the trauma or impact.
Some patients may even complain of pain throughout their abdominal region. Some patients also report feeling pain in the flank area – between the lower rib cage and the upper end of the hip.
To ease the pain from an injured abdomen, your doctor may recommend using over the counter analgesic medications such as None-steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs the likes of ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin etc.) and Acetaminophen (Tylenol).
More severe injuries with more intense pain (hurting with slight movement) may however require a prescription of narcotic pain-relief medications. Your doctor will advise you accordingly.
Can abdominal bruises heal with treatment?
First, your doctor may aim at treating the emergency symptoms while preventing and managing any complications that arise.
For mild cases of kidney bruising, the patient is only needed to have lots of bed rest until bleeding has receded – usually for 1 to 2 weeks – while under the observation of a medical professional (in a hospital of course) who monitors the patient closely for any signs of kidney failure.
Careful observation and control of fluid intakes also forms part of the treatment for a bruised kidney. It is usually just a matter of a short time – usually about a week – before such cases of kidney bruises heal on their own.
- Treatment of more serious kidney injuries on the other hand involves measures aimed at controlling further blood loss while preventing possible shocks.
- Your doctor may give fluids intravenously to regulate blood pressure and stimulate the production of urine.
- Although rarely, surgical intervention may be necessary e.g. when the kidney is bleeding excessively and persistently, has a blood clot surrounding it, or has the blood vessels attached to it torn.
With prompt diagnosis and treatment most patients are able to recover fully and have their kidney working all perfect again.
But there are also few cases of patients who require lifelong treatment as a result of chronic kidney problems. Infection, high blood pressure, and delayed bleeding may also result from some cases of bruised kidneys.
More to know
- Drinking alcohol may cause kidneys to hurt. Pain may intensify from drinking due to a damaged kidney.
- The healing time may depend on the seriousness of the injury. A severe or deep contusion will take longer to heal compared to a mild bruise.
- You may experience long term effects especially if the injury in the kidney area is deep or serious.
- Deep tissue massage can also cause slight injuries to the abdominal area.