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Kidney Pain: Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney Pain: Symptoms and Treatment
The excruciating pain, that you experience in the middle or lower back, is actually kidney pain. Kidney disease, kidney stone and infection are the prominent causes of it. Here is information on the causes, symptoms and treatment of it.
Madhura Pandit
Last Updated: May 31, 2018
Kidneys are bean-shaped organs located at the posterior of the abdomen, just below the diaphragm. Injury or disorder in the functioning of this vital organ leads to pain. The severe pain experienced in the lower back, and caused due to kidney disorders, is known as kidney pain.

Many times, kidney pain is confused with back pain or stomach pain. This is because the pain caused due to these reasons often radiates to the back and the groin. People, therefore, often ignore kidney pain. It is essential to note that kidney pain is usually accompanied with other symptoms.

Along with shooting pain in the back, kidney pain symptoms to watch out for are:
  • Urinary disorders
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Pain in groin region
  • Swelling in hands and feet
The following is detailed information on the two prominent reasons for kidney pain.
Kidney Stones
This is one of the most common causes of severe pain in the lower back and lower abdomen. Substances like uric acid, calcium, or cystine, when in excess, do not get washed out of the body. They get accumulated in the bladder and get converted into stones. These stones get stuck in the ureter and prevent the flow of urine. This causes swelling in the kidneys and leads to severe pain. Dehydration is the most common cause of kidney stones.
Other Symptoms
  • Urinary abnormalities like blood in urine, abnormal urine color, etc., are observed.
  • Vomiting and nausea are observed, as wastes get accumulated in the blood.
  • Swelling is found on hands, feet or even on the face.
Abdominal X-ray, abdominal CT scan, MRI, and kidney ultrasound can help in detecting kidney stones. There are various techniques available to treat kidney stones. Depending on the size and severity of the stone, the doctor decides the treatment method. Kidney pain can be treated by getting rid of the stone.
  • Drinking sufficient amounts of water can help in getting rid of the stone that is small in size (5mm).
  • Medication and drugs are used to eliminate uric acid stones.
  • Diuretics help to wash away excess water and smaller stones from the body.
  • A surgery is required if the stone is larger in size. The Ureteroscopic surgery, wherein a long scope is inserted into the bladder through the urethra to pull out the stone, is a popular technique.
  • Lithotripsy is another surgical method used for removing the stone. It uses shock waves to crush the stone inside the body; which is, then, washed out of the body through urine.
  • You should drink sufficient amounts of water every day (6-8 glasses). Melons, cucumbers, grapes, etc., can be consumed as they have a high water content.
  • Calcium supplements should be taken only in the prescribed amount, as excessive calcium gets stored in the body, causing kidney stone.
  • Fish, meat, and poultry should also be consumed in limited amounts to prevent uric acid stone.
Pyelonephritis (Kidney Infection)
Pyelonephritis is a type of urinary tract infection (UTI) caused due to bacteria. The bacterial infection results in inflammation and kidney pain. The infection can be acute or chronic. The chances of kidney infection are high if a person suffers from kidney stone. The infection causes kidneys to swell, resulting in sharp, aching pain. Back/flank pain and abdominal pain are the significant symptoms.

Other Symptoms
  • Urinary disorders like painful urination, frequent urination, nocturia (excessive urination at night), etc., are observed.
  • Other symptoms like fever, chills, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting are also seen. Loss of appetite leads to weight loss.
Blood culture and other urine tests help to detect bacteria in kidneys. Completing a course of antibiotics is an effective treatment method used to get rid of bacteria and control the infection. Amoxicillin and cephalosporin are the commonly used antibiotics. In severe cases, a surgery may even be required.

Kidney infection can be prevented to a great extent by following simple precautionary measures like those mentioned here.
  • You should have adequate amounts of water every day.
  • You should avoid suppressing the urge of urination. Emptying your bladder after regular intervals is necessary to avoid infection.
  • Practicing safe sex and hygiene can also prevent Pyelonephritis.
Apart from those mentioned above, renal colic, injury, and kidney diseases (like acute or chronic kidney failure) can also cause kidney pain. Renal (kidney) failure is often termed as a 'silent disease' because hardly any early symptoms are observed. Therefore, when suffering from renal failure, you may or may not experience pain. Other causes of kidney pain are kidney cancer, renal tuberculosis, and simple kidney cysts.

Kidney disorders need to be diagnosed and treated immediately to prevent further complications. Following a proper and a healthy diet, and drinking adequate amounts of water every day can help in preventing disorders of the kidney to a great extent

Disclaimer: This information is meant for educational purposes only. It is not to be substituted for doctor's advice and consultation.