Overview of Kidney Pain

Kidney pain is located in the back and can sometimes be mistaken for muscular pain. It is usually felt on the side and lower back of the body and can range from mild to severe. It is important to differentiate between muscular or lower back pain and pain that is caused by the kidneys.

This article will discuss the signs and symptoms of kidney pain and give a comprehensive overview of the condition:

Causes of kidney pain

Kidney pain, also known as renal pain, is caused by the abnormalities or disorders of the kidneys and other organs in the urinary tract. It includes diseases affecting the kidney itself or arising from other organs near it. Kidney pain may have a variety of causes and can be acute or chronic, often causing discomfort concentrated in the mid to lower back area.

The type and intensity of kidney pain will vary depending on what’s causing it. Possible causes include:

  • Infections – Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common causes of kidney-related back pain. Symptoms may include fever, chills, organ failure and sepsis if left untreated.
  • Kidney stones – One of the primary symptoms is sharp spasms in the side and back which may radiate to the groin area.
  • Trauma – Kidney inflammation due to an external blow or trauma can cause pain which radiates around to the back area but not typically too much further down your legs.
  • Atherosclerosis – This is a condition wherein cholesterol deposits form within arterial walls restricting blood flowing to certain organs – including your kidneys – leading to intense abdominal pains which may spread towards your lower back region as well as nausea, vomiting and dizziness.
  • Hydronephrosis – This refers to more severe cases where swelling occurs in a person’s kidneys – likely due to blockages within their urinary tract – resulting in extreme discomfort felt around their mid-lower back region.

There are many other possible causes ranging from benign cysts on your kidneys, pregnancy complications or symptoms related to conditions such as cancer or diabetes mellitus so it’s important that you get checked by a medical professional if you’re experiencing any kind of kidney pains for more than 48 hours so they can accurately diagnose what has caused your discomfort.

Symptoms of kidney pain

Kidney pain is often felt in your back or side, and it can range from a mild ache to an agonizing stabbing sensation. This type of pain is typically caused by kidney stones, infections, or injury and inflammation of the kidneys.

The primary symptoms associated with kidney pain are a constant dull ache on one side of your back or abdomen that may worsen when you stand up, sit down, jump or take deep breaths. In addition to this persistent discomfort, additional signs of kidney pain may include nausea and vomiting, burning with urination and blood in the urine.

Individuals suffering from renal colic—the extreme form of kidney pain—may also experience chills, fever and groin/flank tenderness along with severe abdominal/back spasms. If you are experiencing extreme abdominal pain coupled with any of the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention as these could be signs of a potentially life-threatening condition.

Location of Kidney Pain

Pain from kidney issues is usually felt in the back, but it can also spread to the side or the groin area. It is important to know exactly where this pain is located when attempting to diagnose the problem. The location of the pain can depend on the cause of the issue and can help identify the source of the problem. This article will cover the different locations of kidney pain.

The locations of kidney pain can include:

  • Back
  • Side
  • Groin area

Pain in the lower back

Pain in the lower back, just above the hip and on either side of the spine, is a common symptom of kidney-related disorders. Kidney pain is caused by a variety of infections and injuries to the key organs. It often appears suddenly and cramping sensations can be felt if there is an infection or other disorder in the urinary tract.

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Symptoms of kidney-related pain include:

  • Lower back discomfort that radiates around to the side, flank and groin area.
  • The pain usually begins between the ribs and hips.
  • Kidney pain may remain localized to one area or it may spread out in a band-like region that can move into different areas, such as down the leg or around to your abdomen.
  • In addition, fever, chills, nausea or vomiting are some recorded symptoms of kidney stones or infection which could be experienced with any form of kidney related pain.

Pain in the upper back

Upper back pain related to the kidney may be felt on either side of the spine, depending on which kidney is affected. When caused by a urinary tract infection or another medical condition, pain often radiates from the flank (the area between the ribs and hip) to below the ribcage and above the buttocks. In many cases, pain in this area can be severe and comes in waves. It may also become worse when you sit up straight or lean forward after lying down for a long period of time, as this movement places additional pressure on the affected area. Sometimes, severe flank pain can even cause nausea or vomiting.

In addition to this type of backache, other symptoms associated with kidney problems might include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • A frequent urge to urinate

For more specific diagnosis and treatment information, it is important to consult a doctor if you experience signs or symptoms that suggest a possible kidney problem.

Pain in the side

Pain in the side of the back, or referred to as flank pain, is a typical symptom of kidney pain. This type of discomfort can be localized to a specific area just below the rib cage extending to one side and downwards in the abdomen but its intensity varies greatly from person to person. It is usually worse when there is an underlying kidney issue and also increases when physical activity increases. The affected area may also be tender or sore to touch, as well as present with other symptoms such as:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Nausea
  • Frequent urination

In some cases, flank pain may even be accompanied by bloody urine. Consult with your doctor if you have any unexplained back pain that does not go away or become more severe when bearing down on it.

Diagnosis of Kidney Pain

Kidney pain is usually felt in the area where the kidneys are located in the back, near the bottom of the ribcage. When experiencing pain in the back, it is important to determine the source of the pain and address it appropriately. To do this, it is helpful to understand the various causes of pain and how these can be diagnosed.

In this article, we will look at some of the methods used to diagnose kidney pain:

Imaging tests

If you have symptoms or signs of kidney pain, such as flank pain, abdominal or back pain, or changes in urinary habits, your doctor may order imaging tests such as ultrasound, X-ray and CT scan to diagnose the condition causing your kidney pain.

Ultrasound is a noninvasive test that utilizes sound waves to create images of internal organs. Ultrasound can provide information about abdominal and flank organs as well as detect any blockages or masses in the area where kidney pain is felt.

X-ray uses minimal doses of radiation to create images of tissues and body structures. X-ray may detect abnormal bone growths near the kidneys (eg, tumors) that could be causing the pain.

Computed tomography (CT) scans are imaging tests that utilize an X-ray technology for highly detailed images of the body’s internal structures including bones, organs and other soft tissues. CT scans can help identify obstructions such as stones or cysts in the urinary tract that cause severe kidney pain. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is also used on occasion to help diagnose causes of back and flank pain related to kidney problems although it’s not performed as often since it requires an injection of contrast material which carries some risks.

Blood tests

Blood tests can be used to help diagnose the cause of kidney pain. Your doctor may order several tests including a complete blood count, urine analysis, and creatinine level.

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) measure the number of white cells in your blood stream as well as hemoglobin levels and platelet counts. The presence of white cells can be a sign of infection.
  • Urine Analysis looks for red or white blood cells or bacteria in your urine; these could indicate an infection or inflammation that is affecting your kidneys.
  • Creatinine Level measures the filtration rate in your kidneys, which can alert your doctor to any potential problems with kidney function due to blockage, obstruction, or disease.
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In addition to these three tests, other specific tests may also be ordered such as tissue chemistry analysis and glomerular filtration rate (GFR). The tissue chemistry analysis looks at different parts of the body to ensure they are functioning properly while the GFR measures how quickly waste is filtered out through the glomerulus – a tiny sack located within each nephron that filters out certain toxins from our internal organs. The higher your GFR reading is, the better it indicates that your kidneys are functioning properly.

Urine tests

Urine tests can be used to check for signs of infection, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). The health care practitioner may also order a kidney function test called the creatinine blood test, which measures levels of waste product in the body. Additionally, a “spot” urine test measuring protein content can identify proteins that can indicate the presence of certain types of kidney disease. A 24-hour urine test for proteins may be ordered if the spot urine test does not reveal any problems.

If a UTI is confirmed then further tests may include an imaging scan such as an ultrasound or CT scan to look for evidence of damaged kidneys or blocked tubes leading from your kidneys.

Treatment of Kidney Pain

Kidney pain can occur on either side of the lower back and can be sharp or dull in intensity. It is usually felt right at the level of the waist and may radiate up to the chest or lower abdomen. Treatment of kidney pain can vary depending on the underlying cause, but typically involves managing any infection, inflammation, or obstruction.

Let’s look at other treatment options in more detail:


In general, medications for kidney-related pain relief can fall into two main categories: analgesics, which are designed to reduce the intensity of the pain; and anti-inflammatory drugs, which are designed to reduce swelling and pain.

Analgesics that may be prescribed for kidney-related back pain include acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), aspirin, naproxen (Aleve) and tramadol (Ultram). For more severe cases of renal colic, stronger narcotic pain medications such as codeine or hydrocodone may also be recommended.

Anti-inflammatories that can help people to manage their kidney-related back discomfort include over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen; prescription nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as etoricoxib (Arcoxia); or corticosteroids injected directly into the muscle and bone near the area of discomfort.

It is important to consult a doctor before using any OTC medications, or before beginning a new prescription drug regimen, because certain types of medication can worsen existing kidney damage. Additionally, while narcotics are effective at relieving extreme cases of renal colic they come with significant side effects and should only be used with a doctor’s supervision.


Surgery may be the only treatment option available in some cases of kidney pain. Depending on what is causing your pain, different types of surgery may be employed to treat it.

Common surgical treatments for kidney pain include:

  • Laparoscopic nephrectomy, which is done to remove all or part of a diseased or injured kidney;
  • Open nephrectomy which involves traditional open incisions for removal of the entire or parts of a kidney; and
  • Cyst decortication that involves the removal of cysts from the body.

Another procedure sometimes required to provide relief from chronic kidney pain is cryoablation therapy, which freezes diseased tissue and can reduce symptoms of chronic pain caused by conditions such as renal cancer. Other treatments used in conjunction with surgery include radiofrequency ablation (RFA) to destroy certain tissues with intense heat and lithotripsy, a procedure that uses shock wave technology to break apart and remove large stones within the urinary tract.

If you are experiencing recurrent severe levels of kidney pain, surgery may be an effective treatment option. Speak with your healthcare provider about what type of surgical procedure may be right for you.

Home remedies

Kidney pain is usually felt in the back, just below the ribs and above the buttocks. It is sometimes mistaken for lower back pain or sciatica. Kidney pain can come from a variety of causes, but most often it is caused by a urinary tract infection or a kidney infection. Other less common causes may include urinary calculi (stones), kidney inflammation, trauma and tumors of various kinds.

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Fortunately, there are several home remedies that can help with mild-to-moderate kidney pain that do not involve prescription medication or a doctor’s office visit. Some of these remedies include:

  • Drinking lots of water: Staying hydrated helps flush harmful toxins out of your system and can help reduce discomfort from kidney pain
  • Adding lemon juice to your water: Citrus fruit has antioxidants which can help to fight infections
  • Eating potassium-rich foods: Potassium helps flush excess fluids out of the body which in turn may reduce swelling
  • Applying heat: Heat packs soothe inflamed tissue and may have a numbing effect
  • Doing gentle stretching exercises: Low impact stretching exercises promote better circulation which encourages healing in afflicted areas
  • Taking an over the counter anti-inflammatory medication: Managing inflammation within the kidneys reduces discomfort from painful symptoms.

While these home remedies may provide some relief from mild-to-moderate cases of kidney pain, those who experience more severe or chronic episodes should seek medical attention as soon as possible to ensure proper diagnosis and treatment.

Prevention of Kidney Pain

Kidney pain can be a debilitating problem that should be avoided at all costs. Fortunately, there are ways to keep your kidneys healthy and stave off the pain associated with them. Taking steps such as staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and avoiding painkillers can all help to prevent recurring kidney pain.

Let’s take a closer look at how to maintain your kidney health and prevent pain:

Drink plenty of fluids

It is essential to drink plenty of fluids in order to reduce kidney pain. Staying properly hydrated helps the kidneys process wastes more efficiently, which can in turn help reduce some of the tenderness or inflammation that are often associated with a kidney issue.

Adults should aim for between 8-10 glasses throughout the day; however, this may vary a bit depending on temperature, activity level, and underlying health issues. Lemonade, herbal teas, and non-caffeinated beverages are all good options when it comes to hydrating the body. It’s also important to remember that dietary sources such as fruits and vegetables can provide a significant portion of your daily water intake as well.

When it comes to reducing kidney pain specifically, fluids like cranberry juice have been shown to be useful in some cases; however, it’s important to remember that while there is evidence in support of this claim, individual results will vary significantly so it’s important to talk with a healthcare provider about potential treatments before beginning any kind of self-treatment plan.

Eat a healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet is key to preventing and reducing the symptoms of kidney pain. An unhealthy diet can cause your kidneys to become overworked, which can lead to kidney pain.

Eating a balanced diet of nutrient-rich foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, lean proteins and heart-healthy fats can help keep your kidneys functioning properly while also supplying them with the vitamins and minerals they need. To avoid increasing the workload of your kidneys, limit intake of processed foods high in sodium. Make sure you get adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day as well to encourage healthy urine output.

Exercise regularly

Regular exercise is an important step to take when preventing kidney pain. Physical activities can reduce stress, which decreases the risk of worsening existing kidney-related problems as well as developing new ones. Exercise also helps to maintain a healthy weight, which minimizes the amount of strain placed on both your kidneys and back. In some cases, exercising the abdominal muscles can help relieve existing back pain caused by issues in the kidneys.

When it comes to exercise and prevention of kidney pain, experts recommend low-impact activities such as walking, biking, swimming and yoga. These forms of physical activity will not place too much strain on your kidneys or back, but still provide enough movement for your body to get its much-needed cardiovascular benefits.

Additionally, acupuncture and massage treatments have been found to temporarily relieve symptoms related to kidney pain in the lower back area.

By Reiki

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