Bruised Spleen

big nookoo

White Belt
Aug 17, 2006
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Went to the doc because I felt like I had a cracked rib - my lower left side was tender, I was having trouble pulling deep breaths - and his diagnosis was a bruised spleen. His opinion was that the impact I had received in sparring jarred the organ within the ribcage, and had caused it to bruise and swell. He had me stand in front of a mirror shirtless and pointed out where my lower torso had swollen, and I have to admit I could see the difference between the left side and the right once he showed me what I was looking at.

He didn't propose any treatment (ice, heat, etc...), just time off from contact - at least two weeks, and possibly longer until the swelling goes down. He did lay out some pretty scary consequences of getting the spleen any more banged up, especially internal bleeding.

He also wasn't 100% certain either way on the cracked rib - the x-ray wasn't too clear. He sent the x-rays out for review, and he'll let me know early next week if there is a break or crack.

My questions:
Anyone else ever suffer a bruised spleen?
What was your experience like?
Healing time?
Were you able to adjust your training and work around it?
Is this a recurring thing (once bruised, always vulnerable...)?
Any other relevant info or resources to consult would be appreciated!

I'm scheduled to fight in M/T Smoker on 5/17... so I'm very interested in ways to continue to train around this injury.

Thanks in advance!

I just saw this thread... some helpful stuff in there about why it works to clobber a guy in the spleen... I swear I used the search feature before I created this thread.
Yikes... makes me want to protect my body more while sparring.
Yikes... makes me want to protect my body more while sparring.

Body shots are brutal, the majority of my injuries have come from body shots. Kind of makes you think...
I had the same thing happen but it was caused by a hard takedown. It took about 6 weeks for me to do anything.
Yikes... well the Doc sounds kind of unsure. Maybe you should get another opinion... especially since you are scheduled to fight.

They tought us in school that the spleen is probably the most fragile abdominal organ and it is VERY vascular, so it can bleed a LOT. I'de really consider a second opinion, just in case of another possible injury in the area, maybe the X Rays were poor quality, and maybe there are some things you can do to heal faster that he just doesn't know about. Sorry... sucks.. keep us posted
Yikes... well the Doc sounds kind of unsure. Maybe you should get another opinion...
I'm thinking about it... my doc is pretty good with the x-rays, and the tech he sends then out to for review is really good. The tech caught a fractured toe the doc missed (but you really can't do anything about a broken toe but buddy-tape it...). The tech is supposed to weigh in today or tomorrow, so i'll decide if I'm looking for another opinion after that.

They tought us in school that the spleen is probably the most fragile abdominal organ and it is VERY vascular, so it can bleed a LOT.
Doc was on point with this info. It's a pretty sobering discussion when they use terms like "rapidly bleed out."

Oddly enough, he only recommended two weeks of non-contact for the bruised spleen, but said four to six weeks on the potential cracked rib. I guess the calcium will take longer to re-knit than the bruising will take to subside, but I'd have thought it would go the other way - given the potential seriousness of re-injuring the spleen.
Not to scare you, but be very careful with shit like that.

We had a guy who went home after sparring and felt fine except for some soreness then collapsed when he got in. He went to the hospital with a ruptured spleen and ended up having to have it taken out. It was a nasty week for him, and a 6 month recovery.
Latest update- no cracked rib! Doc got the x-ray back from the tech, and the tech and Doc are both on the same page. Apparently, what the Doc thought was a crack in my rib was actually a whole Camel Light filter cigarette which had become lodged in my lower abdomen due to years and years of smoking...

OK, no, not really.

But the consensus is that the rib is OK. So the fight on 5/17 is a possibility, assuming the spleen is cooperating. The bruised spleen is still sore, but nothing like the day when it was bad enough that it forced me to go see the Doc. I can do light exercise like yard work... pushing and pulling aren't an ordeal like they were four days ago.

I still haven't been back to my gym or talked with my instructor to get his thoughts on the whole deal. I also haven't done anything remotely athletic in five days, so I'm dreading the dip in cardio that I'll need to make up over the next couple weeks.

Everyone's cautions are noted. I'm just talking about a smoker on 5/17, so I'm not going to rush back and risk something permanent when nothing is on the line but my pride.

Good to hear. How are your abs buddy? Aside from cardio, you need to be working on those babies. I focus most of my strength training on my abs. You know how they say the more muscle you have there, the more punishment you can take... sooo true.

IDK about 5/17. That depends on a LOT of factors. How is your cardio right NOW? because if it's not too good, you don't have enough time IMO. As soon as you get tired, you are open to a beating... and it could be your spleen area. Also, really.. how are your abs? was the guy who hurt you a freak puncher? or are you really not ready to take abuse to the body? How is your skill? If you are really skilled, you probably block well... etc. etc. etc. No one can make those decisions but you and your coaches. Just remember that you only get ONE body and good things are worth waiting for :D
The abs are decent... I'm not gonna be featured in any underwear ads any time soon, but that's probably due to the doughnuts I ingest and the abundant body hair more than fitness. Really though, I generally handle body shots pretty well. I think (well, though - before the spleen inqury) that my abs are to a level that offers adequate protection for my level of competition, which is weekly sparing and smokers w/ full pads every 3-6 months. Oddly enough, my ab area was probably at a stronger level when the injury occurred, as I'd added more strength training in anticipation of the upcoming fight, and had been doing the strength stuff for about three weeks prior... lots of CrossFit-type total body and core activation work outs - 300, etc... Dunno if over-training or fatigue was a factor - I don't think I'll ever be accused of over training. Maybe "over-smoking" or "over-loafing."

Anyway- I generally defend pretty well. My confidence in my defense is probably part of my problem - I'm way too willing to stand behind by guard and let shots bounce off my forearms instead of slipping or looking to counter. I'd been attempting to work on that, and I think that contributed to my injury. The kick that I ate came while I was trying an unfamiliar counter.

Going over the mental replay of the day it happened, I somehow managed to soak up a series of shots that sparing session. In addition to the round kick to my lower left ribs, I also caught a decent straight knee to the same spot while in the clinch, and later on caught a solid body hook. I still think the kick was the culprit, but the other two probably didn't help matters. Ok, now that I think about it... I'm not sure this description of how the sparing session went down matches up with my earlier claims of handling body shots pretty well or generally having good defense... maybe you're on to something here.

Smoking comment aside, my cardio was OK at the time of the injury. I have missed time due to discomfort (about a week), so I'm sure I have ground to make up. I have plenty of training scheduled in the next couple days, so I'll have a much better idea once I get through that as to where I am. I also have some one-on-one time with my instructor. I'm sure he'll let me know where I stand after that session.

I spoke to my instructor, and he's decided that if he lets me fight I'll do so with a chest protector on... our chest protectors wrap around the sides, so it should offer additional protection to the area that was most sore and swolen. He told me to touch-spar only (so I don't lose my timing) until the week before the fight, and then we'll re-evaluate.

I'm training like the fight is still on. I've done pad and bag workouts with plenty of twisting and pushing, and the side hasn't been any more sore than it would have been before the injury. I'm burning up the cardio and I'm headed to the gym later to see how my side responds to weights and resistance.

The spleen stopped really bothering me about two weeks ago, but everything else went haywire since then:

About three weeks before the fight, I pulled my hip flexor doing wallshots with a medicine ball. I gave it a few days off, then went back to pad workouts - and pulled my left groin doing knees. I thought I was done right there, since I could barely walk off the training floor.

Between the groin and hip I was pretty much on the shelf... I couldn't jog, couldn't even really skip rope, couldn't lift my left leg to do ab work... so I was pretty screwed as far as training. After about a week of couch and ice, I was to the point where I could move around, but I definitely wasn't about to go do Parkour anytime soon.

Since I had all this time on my hands, I got my motorcycle out of the garage and went riding. I managed to low-side it to the left, put my left arm out to catch myself, and sprained the crap out of it (i'm lucky I didn't break it). I also managed to roll my left ankle pretty badly in the process.

So, with one week to go before the fight, my inventory read:
Sprained Left Wrist
Strained Left Groin
Strained Left Hip
Misc. cuts & bruises (crash)
Bruised Spleen (maybe 70-75% healed).

I talk it over with my instructor, and we work up a fight strategy that is pretty much all elbows and knees since I can't jab or foot-jab, and I'm planning to go through with the fight. I'm mentally preparing myself for a long night, since I have no way to check leg kicks, and I know my opponent intends to blast my thigh non-stop. I shave my wrists so my instructor can tape the hell out of them, so that maybe I can flick a fw jabs without my hand falling off.

Twenty minutes before the fight, my instructor gets a voicemail from my opponent - he threw his back out lifting plywood into his truck, and he's not showing up. So I spent the whole night working corners and holding pads to warm up fighters.

I've got three months to recover before the next smoker. Since the bike is in pieces, I think I've got a decent shot of being healthy this time around.

Thanks to everyone who posted in this thread and PM'd me with spleen recovery advice. I really appreciate it!
Sorry for the rehash but I got excited that one of the top results in a google search was on here lol.

Anyway earlier today I was training, doing wrestling and jiu jitsu, nothing to heavy a few throws and then into some guard work, We were doing some guard passes at about 50% pace so It was pretty relaxed, I was in full guard then all of the sudden I feel a sharp pain around my lower left ribs, the guy i was rolling with wasn't actually on me at the time he was sitting up straight, so I thought it was a stitch, so did he.

Anyway I sit out and ice it, painfully manage to ride my bike home, take some codeine, have a hot bath put some tiger balm on, and ice it again.

It's a lot less painful now, I can move around a little bit, I'm going to see how I feel in the morning if it's worse I'll go to a doc.

Basically my question is, If I'm not sore over the next few days, is there anything wrong with training again? maybe not wrestling and bjj, but just hitting the bags etc ?

Last 6 months haven't treated me well, this is my first week back at training where I felt 95% well enough to train 5-6 times a week..

a sprained MCL in my left knee
bursitis in my right knee (which hasn't fully healed),
a sprained lat,
sprained shoulder
most recently a pretty serious concussion which I just got over to come back and train.

all of this has kept me out of training like I'd want to, so I've been feeling good this week being able to train... then this happens

Bit of a rant but I'm pretty pissed off at the moment