Last reviewed by Editorial Team on August 13th, 2018.
Kidney Pain Location
Your kidneys are responsible for filtering one hundred eighty liters of blood each day with the filtering process taking place fifty times a day. It is very important that when you have kidney pain you know where the pain is located so treatment can be started as soon as possible so you do not risk having any severe complication later. Many times when a person has pain in the kidney area they are not sure exactly where the pain is coming from because they are not exactly sure where their kidneys are located.
When a person has kidney pain it is usually located in your flank area which is the area that lies between the lower edge of your ribs and your hip but on the sides of your spine. Your kidneys do not simply lie in your lower abdominal area but your left kidney is slightly higher than your right kidney because of the shape and presence of your liver. This is why it is a little confusing as to exactly where your kidneys are located. To be a little more specific the area where your kidneys are located is just below your diaphragm on either side and is referred to as the Retroperitoneal Space.
Unfortunately this same area can also be a point of pain due to back spasms, problems in your spleen, liver, colon, or pancreas, or menstrual cramps. Since the area where kidney pain is usually located you should look out for other symptoms to help you decide if it is kidney pain or pain from something else. You should also see your physician for an accurate diagnosis
To help you know if the pain you are suffering is from your kidneys here are some accompanying symptoms that could indicate kidney pain.
- When urinating you experience pain or a burning sensation
- Your urine flow is irregular
- The amount of urine you are passing decreases considerably
- Urinating frequently
- Having a fever, which is an important indicator of having a kidney infection
- Having an increase in pain in the area of your back over your kidneys when this area is touched or pressed on
- Visible inflammation and swelling in this area
- Seeing a change in the color, concentration, smell of your urine
- Finding blood in your urine
- May experience vomiting and nausea
Causes of Kidney Pain
Many people think that the common cause of kidney pain is because of kidney stones but this is not always the cause. If these kidney stones remain in your kidneys they will usually do not cause any pain but when they start to push their way through your urinary tract to your bladder they can cause pain that is stabbing, severe, and sharp.
Other causes can include:
This is a form of kidney infection which can lead to inflammation of the tissues of your kidneys. If your kidneys become infected it can lead to your swollen kidneys which in turn stretch the skin that covers your kidney. This can give you a sharp aching pain and you will find yourself being very sensitive to the slightest touch in the area that is affected. With this cause you may also have a fever, nausea, and vomiting. This is the most common cause of a person having kidney pain.
Urinary tract infections (UTI)
Almost everyone has had a UTI, some more than once. It seems that women are more susceptible than men are. Usually when you have this type of infection it will only affect your bladder but it is possible that it will spread into your kidneys. If it does this is when it becomes more serious. When you have a UTI that has spread to your kidneys you will have pain in your abdominal area, fever, vomiting, and chills. When it has gone to your kidneys you will notice more frequency in urination and pain that is sharp.
It is rare to have cancerous growths in your kidneys but it does happen. The pain that happens with kidney cancer is constant and dull, not sharp, intense as with other causes of kidney pain. If you have kidney cancer it can become painful if it is not diagnosed in the early stages If not diagnosed early the formations can grow so big it can cause urine blockage. These large tumors can also push against your spine or other organs.
Polycystic kidney disease
This kidney disease is genetic. It is characterized by your kidneys containing several cysts and becoming extremely large. This will usually develop over several years. It can cause pain that is aching and dull and instead of feeling kidney pain in the back you will feel the pain in the front of your kidney area.
Your urine flow is blocked
There are many different types of conditions that can result in your urine being blocked gradually. It is not usually a kidney stone that causes this blockage because a kidney stone will cause a blockage that is sudden. When your urine slowly becomes blocked your kidney could become enlarged and can result an aching kidney with dull, not sharp, pain.
Your physician can help diagnosis what is causing your kidney pain by using tests like urine cultures and urine dipsticks. When using urine dipsticks if there is any abnormalities in your urine like changes in the concentration or acidity of your urine or the presence of protein, bacteria, blood, and other substances the urine dipsticks will change color.
Using a urine culture could help your physician see if you have a kidney infection by looking for protein or blood in your urine. When you have a urine culture done, the urine sample is allowed to grow and then it can be determined what bacteria are involved in causing your kidney infection. They can also do scans and x-rays of your urinary system and kidneys or do a biopsy to look for signs of disease.
The treatment that is administered will depend on what is causing the kidney pain. If the cause if pyelonephritis this is a serious medical condition and needs prompt treatment with antibiotics intravenously administered. Once the reason for the pain is found the treatment will usually involve taking care of the underlying problem and then the pain will go away. You should also make sure that you are drinking enough water to help keep your kidneys flushed out. You may also be given antibiotics to help get rid of the bacteria causing the infection and to help control the infection.