Kidney is located under the ribs and at the back of the abdomen. Any dull aching pain on your back or on the sides can be kidney pain. But not all the time it is due to kidney pain. There can be thousands of reasons for getting a dull pain on your back or side. Any problem in your kidneys can cause symptoms of fever, painful urination, nausea and vomiting and flank pain. Kidneys are involved in removing unwanted waste products and excess of fluids from the body. These are vital functions of the body failing which your body gets accumulated with toxins leading to complications.
Formation of kidney stones and infections of urinary tract can affect the function of kidneys. Since kidneys are located in your back below the ribs kidney pain can be felt higher in the back region. It can be felt on the left side or right side and sometimes on both the sides. Your doctor would physically examine you and order for several tests for diagnosing any problem in the kidneys. Treatment for kidney pain depends on the underlying cause. Prognosis of kidney pain is good and most of the patients recover fully if treated early.
Kidney Pain Causes :
- Various factors can cause kidney pain. Toxins and other waste products are transported through tubes by the kidney. Any blockage in these tubes can affect the normal draining function of kidneys.
- Formation of stones in the kidney, kidney disease or infection can affect the kidney causing kidney pain. Pain can be felt on your back if there are any problems in your ribs or spine. Any disease or infection of liver can cause kidney pain. Condition like hernia can also cause pain on your back.
- Some of the serious causes of kidney pain include bleeding of kidneys, formation of blood clots in kidneys, cysts or tumor formation in kidneys and polycystic kidney disease.
- Kidney pain can be sudden/acute and even sharp. It often occurs when the stone from the kidney moves and reaches the ureter (a small tube) blocking the way of kidney drainage.
- The main job of the kidneys is to flush out toxins and excess of fluid from the body in the form of urine and feces.
- Kidney plays a vital role in maintaining the right amount of certain salts like potassium. Kidney helps in controlling electrolyte metabolism of the body.
- Kidney is responsible for stimulating RBC to produce certain hormones. Further it helps in regulating blood pressure.
Kidney Pain Symptoms :
- Renal pain or kidney pain can cause discomfort and pain (ranging from dull ache to sharp intense) on your back between the buttocks and lower rib.
- For some people pain may spread to the groin area and also towards the abdomen. Some other symptoms indicating kidney problem include painful urination, fever (mild to moderate), bloody urine, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and extreme tiredness.
- If the condition of kidney is getting worse it can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, swelling or hands/feet and a strange taste (metallic) in the mouth.
- Mild damage of kidney can cause no symptoms but moderate damage can cause the above signs. Severe impairment of kidney function can cause abnormally high BP, pulse and sepsis shock.
- One should not think it can be problem in the kidney by having pain in the lower back region. Many diseases and conditions like muscle strains, spine injury, pleuritis, infections like shingles and several gynecological issues can mimic kidney pain.
Based on the symptoms, the doctor may request for blood test for checking the levels of creatinine, protein in the urine and glomerular filtration rate etc. He may verify other physical symptoms like swelling of extremities, high blood pressure and frequent urination. Kidney function test and urine test will be done. For checking kidney stone presence, CT scan is done or renal ultrasound would be done.
Treatment for kidney pain is given based on the test results and symptoms. Antibiotics are prescribed for treating urinary tract infections. Ibuprofen and Tylenol are often given for managing renal pain without any obvious cause. Medications are given for destroying kidney stones which would then be flushed out in urine.
Surgery is the option if kidney stones are bigger in size or completely blocking the ureter. It takes only couple of days for full recovery if the surgery is done with non-invasive procedures. Extensive surgery is done only for complicated issues of kidney stone wherein it may take weeks together for total recovery of the patient.
Who Are At Risk ?
People with family history of chronic diabetes or blood pressure, people with frequent urinary tract infections and those who are often exposed to toxic chemicals are at increased risk of kidney pain and diseases. You are at high risk of developing kidney stones if you are frequently eating animal proteins or refined sugar or drinking soda frequently. Those who take very little water are at increased risk of kidney stone.