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How Do You Know If Your Kidneys Hurt

Watch Out For These Two Risk Factors

How Do You Know If Your Kidneys Are Hurting?

Two riskfactors may rear their ugly heads before you notice any kidney failure symptoms,giving you a head start to get on top of this disease.

The firstone to watch for is high blood pressure . High blood pressure may be a signof kidney disease, or it may cause it. Its the chicken-or-egg dilemma, Dr.Calle says.

Diabetesis another key risk factor. Anyone who has high blood pressure and diabetesneeds to be screened for kidney diseases.

Otherimportant risk factors include:

  • Family history of kidney disease
  • Regularly taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs suchas aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen as well as proton pump inhibitors suchas omeprazole that treat reflux and other GI issues
  • A past acute kidney injury, which is when your kidneys are damagedor fail suddenly
  • Certain chemotherapy regimens

And when in doubt, check it out. Dr. Calle recommends taking any questions or concerns to a primary care physician, internist or nephrologist.

Dont rely on your Internet research, he says. Some websites are not reputable and can needlessly scare you.

When To Contact A Doctor

A person who is experiencing kidney pain should contact a doctor as soon as possible to find out what is causing it.

People must contact a doctor to diagnose and treat kidney pain. Receiving the correct treatment ensures that the kidneys do not become damaged, which can lead to kidney failure.

Doctors may order tests such as:

  • urine tests, which can help them identify any infections
  • imaging tests, such as CT or ultrasound scans
  • cytology, which can help them identify cancer cells in the urine

Shortness Of Breath After Very Little Effort

Why this happens:

Being short of breath can be related to the kidneys in two ways. First, extra fluid in the body can build up in the lungs. And second, anemia can leave your body oxygen-starved and short of breath.

What patients said:

At the times when I get the shortness of breath, it’s alarming to me. It just fears me. I think maybe I might fall or something so I usually go sit down for awhile.

I couldn’t sleep at night. I couldn’t catch my breath, like I was drowning or something. And, the bloating, can’t breathe, can’t walk anywhere. It was bad.

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Kidney And Flank Pain Causes

A number of different infections or injuries can cause kidney or flank pain. The most common causes include:

  • Kidney stones: Masses made up of crystals that form in your urine and build up in your kidneys that can cause severe pain, especially during urination. They can be passed manually or, in more serious cases, removed surgically.
  • Pyelonephritis An infection caused by bacteria traveling up from the bladder or from the blood into the kidneys.
  • Polycystic kidney disease : A genetic disease in which normal kidney tissue is replaced by cysts, PKD can cause the kidney to stop working.
  • Kidney infarction: A rare condition in which kidney blood flow is disrupted. This can lead to acute kidney injury, decreased kidney function, kidney disease, and death.
  • Hemorrhage of the kidney: A bleed in the kidney, possible from multiple causes.
  • Kidney canceror tumor: Benign or cancerous masses in the kidney. Kidney cancer is found most often in older adults, with more men affected than women.
  • Renal vein thrombosis: A clot that develops in the vein that drains blood from the kidneys.

In addition to kidney problems, upper back and side pain also can be caused by physical injury, arthritis, or gallbladder or gastrointestinal diseases. Its important to know when to seek care.

What Is The Treatment For Kidney Pain

Kidney Failure Symptoms Pain In Back
  • Kidney pain treatment depends on the underlying cause of the pain.
  • Kidney infections and kidney stones that cause pain are often treated with ibuprofen, ketorolac , acetaminophen , or occasionally with small amounts of morphine . However, these agents treat pain and not the underlying cause of pain.
  • Some patients may spontaneously pass small kidney stones and then be pain-free.
  • Infections like urinary tract infections and pyelonephritis usually require antibiotic treatments in addition to pain medications.
  • If kidney stones completely block a ureter or are about 6 mm in diameter or larger, they may require urologic surgery. Usually, recovery time is fast if kidney stones are removed by retrograde surgical techniques. However, some severe kidney lacerations may require more extensive surgery. Recovery time for these surgeries varies from weeks to months.
  • Other underlying causes of flank pain may need similar pain management and concurrent treatments. However, patients with known kidney problems and/or renal function compromise should not be treated with pain medications that are either filtered through the kidneys and/or may cause further renal damage.

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What Tests Can Help Determine The Cause Of Kidney Pain

In order to pinpoint a cause, a number of tools are available to help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis:

  • Urinalysis: This test checks for the presence of blood, white blood cells , proteins and certain molecules that are linked to various kidney disorders.
  • Imaging tests:Ultrasound or a CT scan can provide images of the physical structure of the kidneys and urinary tract. It can also tell your healthcare provider if stones are present and determine if urine flow is adequate.

What Are Common Kidney Pain Symptoms

People with kidney pain may experience different symptoms. Some of the most common kidney pain symptoms include:

  • A constant, dull ache in your back.
  • Pain in your sides, under your rib cage or in your abdomen.
  • Severe or sharp pain that comes in waves.
  • Pain that spreads to your groin area.
  • Kidney pain is often accompanied by nausea or vomiting, especially if the pain is due to kidney stones.

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Feeling Tired Or Sluggish During The Day

Everyone has a day when they feel tired maybe you didnt get enough sleep, or ate the wrong foods, or some other temporary factors are at play. But sometimes, fatigue is caused by lack of a hormone called erythropoietin, or EPO. The main function of EPO is to stimulate the production of red blood cells, and red blood cells carry energizing oxygen to cells throughout your body.

Stressed kidneys do not produce enough EPO, thereby reducing the number of red blood cells and making you feel weak and tired out.

How Do You Know If You Have Kidney Pain

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Kidney pain, or renal pain, is usually felt in your back . It can spread to other areas, like the sides, upper abdomen or groin. If you have a kidney stone, you usually feel the pain in your back, side, lower belly or groin.

Back pain due to muscle problems is usually in your lower back. Pain due to kidney problems is usually deeper and higher in your back, under your ribs.

Signs that it is a kidney problem can also include fever, vomiting, pain in your sides or painful urination.

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What About Kidney Stones Are They Involved Here Somehow

Sort of. A kidney stone isnt an infection, but a collection of salt and minerals that hardens and turns into a stone. While some stones may be small others can be much larger. They may stay in the kidney, or begin to move into the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder. When this happens, kidney stones can become extremely painful.

Kidney stones can be tricky, since they may have many of the same symptoms as a UTI or a kidney infection pain when urinating, needing to urinate often, and cloudy or strong smelling urine, blood in the urine, fever, nausea or vomiting. And while stones often pass on their own, larger stones sometimes need to be broken up, or removed.

Sometimes, kidney stones can lead to a urinary tract infection or a kidney infection, so its important to get them checked out by your doctor. And, since the symptoms are so similar, getting a checkup is probably a good idea anyway just to rule out the possibility of an infection, and to make sure the stone is moving along as it should.

When Should I See My Doctor About Kidney Pain

You should see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms:

If you suddenly experience severe kidney pain, with or without blood in your urine, you should seek emergency medical care. Sudden, severe pain can often be a sign of a blood clot or hemorrhage, and you should be evaluated immediately.

Dr. Rondon says if you notice symptoms like a change in your urines color, a fever, or if your pain doesnt improve, seek a doctor. For emergency situations, you should go to the emergency department. For other situations, contact your primary care physician for a referral to a nephrologist or urologist.

For more information on kidney pain, talk to your doctor or visit the UPMC kidney disease webpage. Do you have flank pain? Check out our article on the 3 Common Causes of Flank Pain to learn more.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 21, 2015, and was last reviewed on October 1, 2019.

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Kidney Pain Vs Back Pain: How To Differentiate

According to various data banks, the overall prevalence of low back pain was found to be 42% in India. Kidney problems too result in back pain which may be a little different from musculoskeletal back pain. In todays write up we will find out how to differentiate between the two.

Each person has got a pair of kidneys located posteriorly on the lower side of the abdomen. The kidney purifies blood for nutrients and discharges urine.

How to differentiate kidney pain from general backache:

  • Location As is the location of kidneys the pain will be felt on the posterior lower side of the abdomen usually on one side . It may rarely occur on both sides too.
  • Musculoskeletal back pain is usually felt around the lumbar region, it may pain while muscles are touched. However musculoskeletal back pain can be felt all through the back as well.

  • Radiation of pain Kidney pain may radiate to the inner thigh or lower abdomen.
  • Musculoskeletal back pain due to disc or nerve impingement may radiate to buttocks, back of the thigh, laterally to leg and ankles too.

  • Type of pain Mostly a constant steep pain or dull aching pain. The kidney stone pain may vary as the stone moves
  • The musculoskeletal back pain is mostly coming and going, peaking after high-intensity work and better with rest. Pain here too is dull aching.

  • The severity of pain Mostly a constant steep severs pain or mild aching pain .
  • The musculoskeletal back pain is not very severe.

  • Symptoms of both:
  • Prevention Of Kidney Disease

    Kidney Failure Symptoms Pain In Back

    Medication and changes to lifestyle, along with an early referral to a kidney specialist , can prevent or delay kidney failure.

    Heathy lifestyle choices to keep your kidneys functioning well include:

    • Eat lots of fruit and vegetables including legumes and grain-based food such as bread, pasta, noodles and rice.
    • Eat lean meat such as chicken and fish each week.
    • Eat only small amounts of salty or fatty food.
    • Drink plenty of water instead of other drinks. Minimise consumption of sugary soft drinks.
    • Maintain a healthy weight.
    • Stay fit. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity that increases your heart rate on five or more days of the week, including walking, lawn mowing, bike riding, swimming or gentle aerobics.
    • If you dont smoke, dont start. If you do, quit. Call the Quitline or ask your doctor for help with quitting.
    • Limit your alcohol to no more than two small drinks per day if you are male, or one small drink per day if you are female.
    • Have your blood pressure checked regularly.
    • Do things that help you relax and reduce your stress levels.

    A range of medication is available for high blood pressure. Different blood pressure medications work in different ways, so it is not unusual for more than one type to be prescribed. The dose may change according to your needs.

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    How To Relieve Kidney Pain

    This article was medically reviewed by Victor Catania, MD. Dr. Catania is a board certified Family Medicine Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his MD from the Medical University of the Americas in 2012 and completed his residency in Family Medicine at the Robert Packer Hospital. He is a member of the American Board of Family Medicine.There are 18 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 20 testimonials and 83% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 282,882 times.

    Research suggests that if you experience pain in your back between your ribs and your buttocks, or even down your sides into your groin area, you may be having kidney pain.XResearch source Although back pain is not always caused by your kidneys, you should talk to your doctor to make sure you don’t have any serious medical conditions. Experts note that treating your kidney pain will depend on its cause, and your doctor can make the best recommendations for your situation.XResearch source

    Kidney Pain Vs Back Pain

    It’s easy to confuse kidney pain for just back pain. How do you know the difference?

    Location. It could be your kidney and not your back if you feel it higher on your back. Back problems usually affect your lower back.

    Kidney pain is felt higher and deeper in your body than back pain. You may feel it in the upper half of your back, not the lower part. Unlike back discomfort, it’s felt on one or both sides, usually under your rib cage.

    It’s often constant. It probably won’t go away when you shift your body. With your back, it might lessen when you adjust your position.

    Signs that it’s your back

    Back pain:

    • Shoots down one leg
    • Is more likely to be stabbing than dull and constant
    • Gets worse or flares up when you do certain activities, like lifting a box or bending over
    • When you rest or lie down, back pain may ease up
    • Might also be muscle aches

    Other symptoms to watch for

    Depending on the cause of the pain, you could have other symptoms too. If you have these signs, contact your doctor. You could have a serious kidney problem:

    • Fever
    • Body aches
    • Tiredness

    Also, if you recently had a urinary tract infection , call your doctor. If you have blood in your urine, or if your pain is sudden and unbearable even without signs of blood in your pee, get medical care right away.

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    How Is Kidney Pain Treated

    Treatment depends on the cause, the severity of the pain and how sick you are feeling.

    You may find the pain eases with simple treatments like paracetamol. Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist.

    If you have pain that you are worried may be caused by a kidney problem, please see your doctor. If you are pregnant and you have kidney pain, see your doctor.

    You should also see your doctor if you have a pain in the back along with any of the following:

    • discoloured urine, painful urination or blood in your urine
    • feeling that you need to urinate urgently

    What Does It Feel Like When Your Kidneys Hurt

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    People often mistake kidney pain for back pain. But there are some key differences between kidney pain and how it feels compared to back pain.

    Kidney pain vs back pain

    Back pain usually affects the middle of your back, over your spine, and most commonly in the lower back. Spine-related issues can also cause back pain to sometimes radiate down your legs.

    In comparison, kidney pain is typically located higher on your back and it often feels deeper. Most of the time, kidney pain symptoms occur under your ribs, to the right or left of your spine. Kidney pain may also radiate to other areas, such as your abdomen or groin. Sometimes, hip pain is confused with kidney pain, but hip pain is lower down in your back than kidney pain.

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    Ok So How Do I Make Sure I Never Get A Uti Or A Kidney Infection

    As they say, prevention is the best cure! And there are many things you can do to ensure that youre reducing your risk for an infection, and preventing build up from occurring in the kidneys.

    • Practice good hygiene. Always wipe from front to back, keep your genital area clean, wash before and after sex. Basically, do your best to keep bacteria from even having a chance of getting into the urinary system in the first place.

    • Drink lots of water. If youre dehydrated, youre not only increasing your chance of a UTI, but youre also decreasing your urine output, meaning that more minerals have a chance to build up and settle in the urinary tract or kidneys.

    • Make sure to urinate whenever you feel you have to go. Dont hold it in. This concentrates the urine allowing bacteria to build up and spread.

    • Alter your diet if you find youre prone to kidney stones. Cut down on certain meats and shellfish and opting instead for more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid consuming too much sugar. Cut back on sodium, and eat more oxalate-rich foods .

    And if you do start experiencing any of the symptoms above, be sure to see a doctor right away. UTIs, kidney infections, and kidney stones can usually be treated fairly easily, but its important to seek medical attention before any complications develop.

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