What is kidney pain?

The kidneys are paired organs located toward the back of your body, partially protected by your lower ribs. Your left kidney is slightly higher than your right. Pain from the kidneys tends to occur in the flanks or in the lower back just under the ribs, although it can extend into the groin and testicles. Pain from muscle strain, arthritis, and some spinal conditions can easily be mistaken for kidney pain.

Kidney pain is caused by infection, inflammation, injury or enlargement of the kidney, or by conditions that block the flow of urine out of the kidney. Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and kidney stones are the most common causes of kidney pain. Pyelonephritis is often accompanied by other symptoms of urinary tract infection, such as burning with urination, frequent or urgent need to urinate, bloody urine, fever, and nausea with or without vomiting. Kidney stones may also cause bloody urine, fever, and nausea with or without vomiting; however, the pain tends to come and go in waves.

Stretching of the capsule around the kidney can cause pain, but many of the conditions that cause kidney enlargement develop gradually without much pain. These conditions include kidney cancer or benign tumors, polycystic kidney disease, and hydronephrosis (enlargement of the ureters, the tubes that drain the bladder).

Bleeding in the kidney can cause more rapid enlargement, but this may be easier to diagnose since it is often associated with trauma. Kidney damage due to a blocked artery is a rare cause of kidney pain, as is poststreptococcal glomerulonephritis, an uncommon complication of streptococcal infections, such as strep throat (bacterial throat infection) and impetigo.

Some conditions that cause kidney pain can have serious complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have kidney pain along with high fever, severe pain, bloody urine, cold and clammy skin, paleness, rapid breathing or heart rate, decreased or absent urine output, profuse sweating, confusion, or unconsciousness.

If your kidney pain is persistent or causes you concern, seek prompt medical care.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with kidney pain?

Kidney pain may accompany other symptoms that vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the urinary tract may also involve other body systems.

Urinary tract symptoms that may occur along with kidney pain

Kidney pain may accompany other symptoms affecting the urinary tract including:

CAUSES

What causes kidney pain?

Kidney pain is caused by infection, inflammation, injury or enlargement of your kidney or by conditions that block the flow of urine out of your kidney. Pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and kidney stones are the most common causes of kidney pain. Many of the conditions that cause kidney enlargement develop gradually without much pain.<... Read more about kidney paincauses

Medical Reviewer: Cynthia Haines, MD Last Annual Review Date: Aug 2, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System


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