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Football and Kidney Lacerations

Kidney Pain

Football is a dangerous game.

We all have heard about the head injuries players receive that can cause long-lasting damage. We also have seen players sidelined by serious orthopedic injuries.

Now a different type of injury is taking players out of the game - kidney laceration. In the past two weeks, Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts and Keenan Allen of the San Diego Chargers have been diagnosed with the condition.

"A kidney laceration is usually caused by blunt force trauma," says Jeffrey Campsen, MD, a kidney surgeon with University of Utah Health. "It's an injury that is commonly associated with car accidents."

Kidney lacerations cause pain, usually in the upper abdomen or in the hip flank. Both Allen and Luck sought medical care after feeling pain in their sides following their injuries.

"In more severe cases, the patient may go into shock as well," says Campsen. And, "blood in the urine is also a common symptom."

That was what led to a kidney laceration diagnosis for Miles Austin of the Cleveland Browns. The receiver thought he just had a post-game before he hit the urinal.

Treatment for a kidney laceration depends on the severity of the injury. Bed rest and a control of fluid intake will suffice in less serious injuries, as the kidney is given time to heal itself.

Luck's team says he won't need surgery and will be out just two to six weeks.

But Allen's laceration appears to be more severe. He likely will be out for the rest of the season, and has undergone at least one procedure to stop bleeding.

"With a more serious injury, blood, and fluids may have to be given in order to keep the patient stable and prevent them from going into shock," says Campsen. "In the most severe cases, surgical repair may be needed."

Like other injuries in football, a kidney laceration can have a lifelong impact.

"An increased risk of hypertension can result from kidney trauma," Campsen says. "In some cases, there is an increased risk of chronic kidney disease."