Types of Kidney Pain


Kidneys are bean-shaped organs that are about the size of a fist and located at the back of the torso. They are situated under the lower part of the rib cage on each side of the backbone. Their main function is to filter waste from the blood and produce urine that is sent to the bladder. Kidney pain is discomfort in the area of the kidneys. It typically presents as a dull ache on the sides, back, or stomach area. However, pain in these areas is not always linked to the kidneys and may be caused by the back.

Types of kidney pain

There are various types of kidney pain that are generally related to different sources. Below are examples of pain types that may be associated with the kidneys. Potential causes are also included.

  • General flank pain — Flank pain is felt on the sides of the spine, between the bottom of the ribs and the hips. This type of pain can have various causes that are related to the kidneys, including a kidney infection, tumor or mass.
  • Severe, sharp or stabbing pain — A kidney stone commonly appears as pain that fluctuates in intensity and location. They can cause sharp, severe or stabbing pain. When trying to pass a kidney stone through urination, the pain may come in waves as the stone moves.
  • Persistent, dull pain — Hydronephrosis can result in pain that is dull, but persistent. This is a condition in which a blockage causes urine to back up and the kidney to swell. Although rare, it can affect both kidneys.
  • Abdominal pain — Abdominal pain may occur if cysts develop on the kidneys and begin pressing on other organs. It may also be caused by bleeding in one or both kidneys. Atheroembolic renal disease, in which an artery leading to one of the kidneys becomes blocked by plaque, may also result in abdominal pain.
  • Extreme flank pain with soreness around the rib cage — Renal vein thrombosis or a blood clot in one or both veins connected to the kidneys can cause this type of pain. There may be spasms, or pain may be severe and ongoing.
  • Pain in the back and side — Various conditions related to the kidneys can result in pain in the back and side. They include kidney stones, kidney infection, mass, cancer, ruptured cyst, or polycystic kidney disease.
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