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Kidney Pain: Diagnosing and Treatment

Kidney Pain: Diagnosing and Treatment

The Symptoms

Numerous problems may cause kidney pain. Because they are located toward the back of the body, pain in the kidneys is commonly mistaken for back pain. In most cases, the pain is felt in the lower back or flanks just below the ribs. In some cases, however, it can extend to the testicles or groin area. Arthritis, muscle strains, and some spinal conditions may be mistaken for kidney pain even though they are unrelated.

Causes Of Kidney Pain

In most cases, kidney pain is caused by inflammation, enlargement, injury, or infection of the kidney. There are also numerous painful conditions that occur when the flow of urine from the kidney is blocked. Of these, the most common causes are kidney stones and infections. Kidney stones are likely to cause blood in the urine, fever, and nausea while an infection is likely to include symptoms that are like a urinary tract infection such as painful, urgent urination, fever, nausea, and bloody urine.

When to Seek Medical Attention

When the capsule surrounding the kidney stretches due to enlargement, it often is not noticed right away. The pain associated with enlargement due to cancer, benign tumors, polycystic kidney disease, or hydronephrotic tends to develop slowly over an extended period. Bleeding in the kidney, however, progresses quickly and typically causes pain right away. Because there are numerous causes of kidney pain, some of which are life-threatening, it is important to seek prompt medical attention for severe or continuous pain.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options For Kidney Pain

In some cases, doctors can diagnose the source of kidney pain through a physical exam and by asking the patient questions regarding the kidney pain. More often, however, additional testing may be necessary. Common tests include laboratory work and ultrasounds of the kidneys. Other tests may be performed depending upon the nature of the underlying conditions and any existing conditions the patient may have. Some kidney problems can be treated with prescription medication while others require surgical intervention. In rare cases, a kidney transplant may be necessary.

Prognosis and Complications Of Kidney Pain

The prognosis for kidney pain largely depends upon the cause. Problems like minor injuries and infections often heal without further complications. More severe problems like cancer or problems that are not treated promptly may lead to severe complications such as acute kidney failure, the spread of infection or cancer, or even death. As a result, kidney pain should be addressed and treated immediately to reduce the likelihood of potentially life-threatening complications.

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