Flank Pain Causes

Flank Pain Causes

Flank pain causes could be as varied as a traumatic injury to a serious underlying health problem. Read this article to get some detailed information on this topic.
HealthHearty Staff
Flank pain can be described as the pain, which is experienced only on one side of the body. It is felt either on the right side or the left side. The exact location of the pain is the area that lies in between the rib cage and the pelvis. It may or may not be a serious issue. If the pain subsides after a rest, then it is not a cause of concern. On the other hand, if it refuses to go even after rest, then it is likely that it is related to some undiagnosed health issue. The source of the pain is mostly localized, but sometimes, it could be radiated from other parts of the body. To understand the topic better, some of the flank pain causes have been summarized in the articles below.


Flank pain is mostly associated with kidney disorder. Besides, there are many other reasons too, some of which are given below.

Back Problem: This problem can occur if the back muscle gets strained due to traumatic injury or strenuous physical activity. A slipped disk or herniated disk puts pressure on the surrounding structure, and it may give rise to pain on one side of the body. Those who have spinal arthritis often experience pain in between the abdomen and the back.

Kidney Problems: As we have mentioned earlier, a number of kidney problems could be responsible for this condition. It includes kidney infection or pyelonephritis, kidney stones, renal infarction, polycystic kidney diseases, etc. It could be a symptom of kidney cancer as well. In that case, the pain is accompanied by blood in the urine.

Urinary Tract Disorder: Severe pain may be experienced when there is a ureteral stone inside the urethra. Presence of the stone causes obstruction to the passage of urine, and it results in sharp pain. An infection in the urinary tract is another reason behind this kind of pain. It happens when the infection turns severe, and the bladder and the kidneys get infected. This is one of the common causes in women, as they are more susceptible to urinary tract infection than men.

Gastrointestinal Problem: Stomach ulcers, food poisoning, irritable bowel syndrome, pancreatitis, infections like diverticulitis, caused by trapped bacteria in the colon are a few such digestive problem that cause this disorder. Here, the pain is accompanied by various gastrointestinal symptoms, like abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, etc.

Shingles Rash: When shingles rash breaks out on one side of the back, then it gives rise to a sharp pain at the site of infection. It makes the area so sensitive that even friction with clothing makes the pain unbearable. This kind of pain subsides as soon as the rash is healed, which could take several weeks.


The intensity of the pain varies from mild to severe and it depends on the underlying causes.
  • When pain is caused due to kidney problem, then the characteristic of the pain gives an indication as to which kidney has been affected. Pain in the right flank suggests that the problem lies in the right kidney. Whereas, left kidney problem lead to pain in the left flank.
  • If the cause is a minor one, then the pain is usually mild which may get aggravated with body movements, but it is not accompanied by any other symptoms.
  • In a serious condition, the pain is sharp and stabbing, and it does not increase or decrease with movements.
  • It may get extended downwards, and cause pain in the testicles in men, and in the labia in women.
  • Severe pain is accompanied by other symptoms, like fever, nausea, vomiting, difficulty in urinating, and traces of blood in the urine.

The exact cause of the pain is diagnosed with the help of physical examination, medical history, and symptoms. Then, a few laboratory tests, like blood test and x-rays are also conducted. For a mild condition, doctors recommend adequate amount of rest for the patient. It should be followed by physical therapy and exercise for complete recovery. To give relief to the spinal arthritic, pain anti-inflammatory drugs are prescribed. Infections in the kidneys and urinary tract are treated with antibiotics. If kidney stones are detected, then it is resolved by the intake of fluids and pain relieving medicines. Any other major health problems should be given proper treatment.

One of the causes of this condition is kidney cancer. That does not mean that anyone suffering from such pain should assume that he or she is suffering from kidney cancer. You can prevent most of the causes by following a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy foods, keeping the body hydrated, and exercising regularly.

Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.