Kidney Pain – Causes, Location,Symptoms And Treatment

Kidneys are vital organs that work as a waste management system for our bodies by taking care of the filtration and maintaining the chemical balance of our blood. However, there is a large variety of conditions that may cause kidney pain such as inflammation, infections and other issues that may affect their normal functioning. In the following paragraphs we will review a few of the most common causes of pain in this important organ, as well as some of the symptoms and treatment options available today:

Kidney infection:


Also known as Pyelonephritis, this condition is caused by an ascending urinary tract infection traveling up the urethra. In severe cases it may lead to pus accumulation around the kidney and even death. A majority of cases of Pyelonephritis are caused by bowel organisms that make their way into the urinary tract such as E. coli and Enterococcus faecalis.


Some of the most common symptoms of this affliction include high fever, feeling sick, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain that moves towards the back of the abdomen and pain while urinating. In some cases it may also cause foul-smelling urine, blood in the urine and/or increased frequency of urination. These symptoms develop in a relatively short period of time that goes from a few hours to an entire day.


Pyelonephritis is treated with antibiotics prescribed by a doctor for at least seven days. It is important to keep in mind that home remedies alone are not effective for this condition and a visit to your physician is highly advisable.

Although most cases do not require hospitalization, it is recommended in severe cases when delivering antibiotics intravenously is required in order to make sure the medicine reaches the kidneys.

This short video shows the process


Kidney stones:

Kidney stones


These solid deposits or crystal aggregations, also known as renal calculus, are formed from minerals contained in the urine of an individual. They are usually made of calcium oxalate, a compound that results from the accumulation of dissolved minerals in the kidneys. In some cases, kidney stones may block the flow of urine and cause pain due to the pressure generated by the excess fluid. According to Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, people with kidney stones have higher probabilities of suffering from chronic kidney disease.


Kidney stones are fairly common, and in many cases they may not cause symptoms for a time until one of them passes into the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder, also known as ureter. When this happens, a patient may experience a few of the following symptoms: Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen or the side of the abdomen while fluctuating in intensity, fever, nausea, vomiting, pain while urinating, abnormal urine (pink, brown or red), foul-smelling urine or having to urinate more often than usual.


The treatment alternatives depend mostly on the size of the stones. A majority of kidney stones pass through the urinary tract in less than 2 days accompanied by abundant fluid intake. A 4 mm stone has an 80% chance of passage and stones larger than 9 mm rarely pass without additional treatment. In some cases, anti-inflammatory drugs and narcotics may be used to control the pain associated with the process. A procedure known as lithotripsy is often used when a stone is too big to pass on its own. Lithotripsy consists of ultrasound shock waves used to break down kidney stones into smaller pieces that may be passed by the urinary tract. In some cases, when all the previously mentioned alternatives fail or are unavailable, surgery may be required. This may be done by passing an ureteroscope through the urethra and bladder into the ureter to remove the kidney stone in question.

This video explains kidney stones in more detail:

Polycystic Kidney Disease:

Polycystic Kidney Disease


It is a genetic disorder characterized by the growth of multiple cysts in the kidneys which results in an increase in volume of the affected organ that causes pain. You can read more about this condition here.


Although there are many patients who don´t develop any symptoms for years; a few of the most common symptoms of this condition are the following:  headaches, drowsiness, high blood pressure, abdominal pain on the side of the abdomen or in the back, swelling in the abdominal area, frequent urination, joint pain, blood in urine, urinary tract infections, kidney stones and kidney infections.


In this case, the goal is to control the symptoms and prevent further complications. Considering the disease gets worse over the years and leads to end-stage kidney failure in most cases, controlling high blood pressure is the most important aspect to consider. A few of the elements often included in treatment are: diuretics, blood pressure medicines, a low-salt diet, and antibiotics in case there is a urinary tract infection.

Kidney cancer:

Kidney cancer


This is a rare form of cancer that accounts for approximately 2% of all the cancer cases. As a kidney tumor grows, it pushes the nerves around the organ which may cause pain, among other symptoms.


Although there is a large variety of symptoms that may be associated with kidney cancer, finding blood in the urine is one of the most common symptoms of this affliction. Some other common symptoms may include: loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, persistent pain in the abdominal area and an overall feeling of tiredness.


A majority of cases of kidney cancer use surgery as the initial treatment option in order to remove a cancerous tumor from the kidney (known as a nephron-sparing surgery) or to remove the affected kidney altogether (a procedure known as a nephrectomy). Other treatment alternatives that may be considered when surgery is not viable may include treatment to heat cancer cells (known as radiofrequency ablation), treatment to freeze cancer cells (known as cryoablation) and drugs that use the immune system to fight cancer and radiation therapy.

In conclusion, there are several possible causes for kidney pain and each affliction has a set of symptoms and possible treatment options the need to be addressed carefully depending on each specific case. Whenever kidney pain is present, it is important to visit a physician in order to get a thorough medical check up to prevent complications.

Lyn Ashby is a foodie over 60 who enjoys spending time with her friends and family. She learns about nutrition, health and dieting continuously in order to improve her life and those around her. If you are interested in learning more about some of her latest discoveries, you may visit her blog over here.

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