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Urinary Disorders

Kidney Bruise

03/25/2009

Question:

I do a little boxing and I took a couple of shots to my kidney region (left flank between rib and hips). A couple of days go by and I`m feeling but last night I took a fall with a guy and landed right on the spot. Today It feels worse and more sensitive with deep breathing, coughing, etc. I`m guessing when I take in air the increased pressure on my insides is pushing against the injury. No urine irregularities or blood. The pain is pretty concentrated to the kidney area (hasn`t spread). I`m pretty sure it`s a bruise but wanted to know what a doctor would do if I came with these facts. If all I`m gonna hear is rest and drink plenty of water...well I`m already doing that. Thank you very much for being available. These type of informationals are a great service to people like me.

Answer:

From your description of the type of pain and its location, my best guess is that it is not your kidney that is bruised, but your ribs, or the tissues and muscles surrounding them.  The location of the left kidney is just beneath the lower edge of the left ribs, closer to the spine (middle of the body) than to the hip.  Very little of the left kidney actually protrudes below the lower edge of the ribs.  If the kidney were bruised, it would probably be continuously painful, because the pain is caused by the stretching of the very pain-sensitive capsule (the thin membrane covering the entire kidney) by swelling of the kidney itself.  

Typically the pain of a bruised - or even cracked - rib is worse with any kind of deep breathing and/or coughing, or anything that expands the rib cage.  Although a bruise and even a rib fracture will eventually get better on its own, seeing a doctor might accomplish the following: x-ray documentation of whether or not there's a rib fracture, pain medication if you are having a lot of trouble taking a breath, possibly an abdominal binder to provide some support to the chest.  However, you are right: rest (and staying away from boxing) will be the best course here.  If the pain spreads, or if you develop a cough, a fever, or blood in the sputum, see a doctor immediately. 

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University