Think you might have bruised a kidney? This type of injury usually happens as a result of blunt trauma – maybe you fell or were playing a sport with your grandkids and got whacked by the ball?
Any injury to a major organ is potentially serious, and you should absolutely go to your doctor if you suspect your kidney may be bruised.
That being said, there are some remedies for a bruised kidney which may prove helpful.
Your kidneys are a pair of small organs located in the back of your abdomen.1 One of their main functions is to filter liquid waste from your body, but they are also responsible for keeping blood pressure regular, helping reabsorb nutrients, and regulating fluid levels.2
Kidneys are the organs most susceptible to injury in the urinary tract.3 Though their location often protects them, kidneys can become bruised due to trauma from car accidents, falls, or contact sports. Professional football players, for example, often suffer from bruised kidneys.
Symptoms of a Bruised Kidney
A bruised kidney is also called a renal contusion. One of the main symptoms is blood in the urine. This is called hematuria. It can be enough blood to be seen by the naked eye, or the amount of blood may be seen only by a microscope.4 Other symptoms of a bruised kidney include abdominal pain and bruising on the back of the abdomen.5
Kidney injuries can cause other, more severe symptoms. If, in addition to blood in the urine, you have nausea, vomiting, fever or increased heart rate, you should go to the emergency room immediately.
Should You See a Doctor?
Yes. If you suspect you have a kidney injury, you should see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor can determine the severity of your injury and set a course of treatment.
Most injuries to the kidneys are “low grade,” or minor.6 It’s important to know what kind of injury you’ve sustained, since some kidney trauma can be life-threatening. A bruised kidney is not serious, but bruised kidney symptoms can be similar to those of a laceration, or tear, in the kidney.7 A lacerated kidney can be serious if left untreated. Complications, such as infection, high blood pressure, and even kidney failure, can occur.8
Additionally, patients who have fallen or been involved in automobile accidents may have injuries to other parts of the body, such as the rib cage. It’s important to see a physician right away to have your injuries assessed and treated.
Tests Your Doctor May Use
Urinalysis, or a test of your urine, is one assessment your doctor may use. Urinalysis can help doctors see if you have microscopic amounts of blood in your urine.9 This gives them one part of the picture of your kidney injury.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may also order a computerized tomography (CT) scan to check the extent of your injury. This is the most common test done to determine injuries to the kidneys. During a CT scan, the patient lies on a table while images are taken. The procedure is similar to an X-ray, but more detailed.10 A CT scan takes about half an hour to complete.
Your doctor may also order an angiogram, which is a kind of x-ray taken after a special dye is injected into your blood.11 Ultrasounds are also sometimes used to determine kidney injuries.12
How to Remedy Bruised Kidney At Home
If you have a mild kidney contusion, you should be healed in about a week. In the meantime, here are some ways to help your kidneys heal at home.
Get Plenty of Rest
You may need to stay on bed rest until there is no longer blood in your urine. This can take one to two weeks.13 Bed rest means that you are lying down most of the time. Avoid strenuous activities, such as exercise and lifting heavy objects. Your doctor may have you stay overnight in the hospital so your vital signs can be observed.
Regulate Fluid Intake
Doctors advise kidney contusion patients to drink enough fluids, but not so much as to overtax your kidneys. Aim to drink around eight to 10 glasses of water each day.14 Your kidneys need water to function correctly, especially while they heal.
Kidney bruises can be painful. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you find your pain can’t be controlled by these medications, talk to your doctor about prescription pain relief.
Your doctor may ask you to make changes to your diet in order to allow your kidneys to heal. Eating a diet with too much sodium can cause your healing kidneys to work too hard.15 Limit the amount of sodium in your diet by eating less processed foods and adding less table salt to your food.
In most cases, a bruised kidney will heal on its own. However, in some cases of more severe kidney injury, surgery may be needed.
A bruised kidney can be uncomfortable, but it is usually not life-threatening. Follow your doctor’s advice carefully, as well as these remedies for a bruised kidney, and your body will heal in just a few weeks. Your doctor will conduct a follow-up examination, after which time your will likely be able to resume normal activities.