Kidney Pain: Causes and symptoms

The kidneys are kidney-shaped organs located in the back of the abdomen on each side of the spine. Their main function is to remove excess fluid and waste products from the body by producing urine. Because of their location, kidney pain and back pain might become difficult to distinguish. However, kidney pain is usually deeper and higher in the back (localized under the ribs) while the muscle pain in the back due to an injury is typically lower in the back. Pain in the sides or in the middle to upper back region might be due to kidneys. Also, it is possible to only feel pain on one side if the problem is in only one kidney, and both sides if both kidneys are affected. The top 10 kidney transplant hospital in India have high-end equipment and instruments that allow accurate diagnosis of the problem. These hospitals are world-class centers with a dedicated department for kidney problems and their treatment.

 

The signs and symptoms that indicate pain is due to kidney problem:

Symptoms associated with kidney or renal pain generally include acute or chronic discomfort, aches, or sharp pain in the back, in the region between the lowest rib and the buttock. It may radiate down to the groin or toward the abdominal area, depending on the cause of the pain. 

Some people also develop symptoms and signs such as:

  • Fever

  • Blood in the urine

  • Pain during urination (dysuria)

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Constipation or diarrhea

  • Fatigue and dizziness

  • Chills

Other symptoms metallic taste in the mouth, bad breath, and shortness of breath may occur when the kidney function gets increasingly compromised. Traumatic kidney injury or kidney laceration may cause these symptoms, but mild damage initially shows no symptoms. Severe kidney injury can lead to abnormal blood pressure and pulse, as well as shock.

 

Kidney pain is a symptom itself that happens due to an underlying problem or diseases of the kidney or its associated structures. However, other diseases may also lead to kidney pain, but are not originally due to the kidneys. For example, conditions such as muscle strains in the back, spinal problems, retroperitoneal fibrosis, shingles,

aortic abdominal aneurysm, gynecological problems, and other urological causes.

 

Causes of kidney pain:

 

Kidney stones

The stones are hardened deposits of salts and minerals, that can form in kidneys, often due to concentrated urine. Pain due to kidney stones in the ureters of the kidneys usually occurs suddenly, and is sharp, severe, and may increase and decrease in waves. Kidney stones pain is referred to as renal colic.

Other symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • Pain in the side and back 

  • Persistent need to urinate

  • Pain while urinating

  • Blood in the urine

  • Nausea and vomiting

There are many treatment options for the kidney stones. If it is small enough, the stone may pass by itself. The doctor may prescribe a pain medication and suggest drinking as much as 2 to 3 quarts of water a day. A medication, an alpha blocker that relaxes the ureter, might also be given to help the stone pass more easily and less painfully.

 

However, if the stone is larger or causing damage, a more invasive procedure might be needed. This includes extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), in which sound waves are used to break a kidney stone into smaller pieces that are easier to pass; percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), in which the stone is surgically removed using small telescopes and instruments. Another procedure in which special tools passed through the urethra and bladder to either snare or break up the stone can also be used.

 

Urinary tract infection (UTI)

The infection caused by bacteria, fungi or viruses in the urinary tract is known as UTI. Although typically the lower urinary tract including urethra and bladder are involved, but the upper tract including ureters and kidneys may also get affected. Signs and symptoms of UTIs include:

Fever 

Side and upper back pain

Chills 

Frequent and persistent urge to urinate

Blood in urine

Nausea and vomiting

 

Treatment usually includes the use of antibiotics as bacterial infections are more common. 

 

Renal trauma

Renal trauma means an injury to the kidney from an outside source. Blunt trauma is caused by an impact and doesn’t penetrate the skin, while penetrating trauma is damage to the kidney caused by an object entering the body. The blunt trauma symptoms are hematuria and bruising in the area of the kidney and signs of penetrating trauma is a wound.

 

Treatment for most renal trauma commonly involves surgery and management of possible side effects of the trauma such as discomfort and high blood pressure.

 

Polycystic kidney disease (PKD)

This is a genetic disorder in which clusters of fluid-filled cysts grow on the kidneys. It is a form of chronic kidney disease that reduces kidney function and can potentially cause kidney failure. Symptoms of PKD include:

  • Pain in back and side 

  • Hematuria: blood in urine)

  • Kidney stones

  • Abnormalities related to heart valve 

  • High blood pressure

There is currently no cure for PKD and the doctor recommends only the treatment to manage the condition by treating symptoms.

 

Kidney cancer

The symptoms of kidney cancer at early stages are not very common. Symptoms at the later stage generally include:

  • Persistent pain in the side and back 

  • Hematuria 

  • Fatigue and nausea

  • Unexplained weight loss

  • Loss of appetite

 

Treatment options for kidney cancer include:

Surgery: the primary treatment for most kidney cancers include nephrectomy (removal of the entire kidney) and partial nephrectomy (removal of the tumor from the kidney). It can be done as an open surgery or laparoscopic surgery.

Other treatments for kidney cancer include immunotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy.

 


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