RICE & MICE: Black and blue….kidneys?

Braydon Coburn missed last Monday night’s game with a bruised kidney and was back in action just a couple days later on Wednesday. Even so, bruised kidneys aren’t to be taken lightly.

The kidneys are vital to the body because they are responsible for filtering toxins out of the blood and by ridding the body of these toxins and excess fluid and salts by producing urine. Blood flows into them via a renal artery, is filtered by vessels in the kidney and leaves “clean” via a renal vein. The urine that is produced by the filtering leaves the kidney through a ureter and which carries urine into the bladder. The kidneys also help to regulate the blood pressure and secrete the hormone, Erythropoietin (EPO), which tells the bone marrow to produce more red blood cells. EPO may sound familiar because it has been used for blood doping.

The kidneys sit behind the abdomen and are protected by muscle and part of the rib cage. The right kidney is smaller and sits slightly lower than the left kidney, which is larger. They are at a level a couple of inches higher than the belly button. Bruises of the kidney are usually due to trauma, often during a fall, a car accident, or due to contact in sports. Kidneys can also be bruised when treating kidney stones.

A bruised kidney can cause pain and often blood in the urine. Since a pretty good hit is required to produce impact on the kidney, bruising of the skin on the back, abdomen or flank is common. The blood in the urine is not always visible and is sometimes only detected through a urine test or by use of a microscope.

The treatment for it is typically rest, because the kidneys usually heal on their own as well as adequate fluid intake. If the bruise is severe or there is a large amount of blood in the urine, sometimes hospitalization is required because it needs to be closely observed at least till when the bleeding is controlled.  Internal bleeding is also a possibility with these injuries.  In severe instances, surgery is requires to control bleeding and remove the damaged kidney.

Coburn most likely had mild bruising of his kidney and a few days of rest were all that was needed for him to recover. He was back in action on Wednesday night and showed no ill effect of the bruised kidney, since he logged over 24 minutes of time on ice, tops among the defensemen that were suited up for the Flyers.