Where Do I Feel Kidney Pain
You feel kidney pain in the area where your kidneys are located: Near the middle of your back, just under your ribcage, on each side of your spine. Your kidneys are part of the urinary tract, the organs that make urine and remove it from your body. The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
You may feel kidney pain on only one side or both sides of your back. Having pain in these areas does not always mean there is something wrong with your kidneys. Because there are muscles, bones and other organs around your kidneys, it can be hard to tell what exactly is causing your pain. If you have constant pain you think may be caused by your kidneys, talk to your doctor.
Diagnosis Of Kidney Endometriosis
Most physicians are not familiar with endometriosis. As a result, they often misdiagnose patients with kidney cancer. This can lead to patients not receiving treatment on time, or receiving the wrong kind of treatment.
A specialist should carefully review the patients medical history, followed by a pelvic examination.
Tell-tale kidney endometriosis symptoms include lower back pain and blood in the urine that comes and goes with the menstrual cycle. Another sign of kidney endometriosis is when the patients symptoms disappear with hormonal treatment, such as birth control.
Imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging scans or contrast-enhanced computed tomography can also help visualize endometrial lesions in and around the kidneys.
However, the way to definitively diagnose kidney endometriosis is via histopathologic examination. This is the examination of kidney tissue that is obtained using a biopsy. However, this approach is very invasive and can lead to complications.
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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What Causes Kidney Failure
When the kidneys lose function suddenly , its called acute kidney failure . This type of kidney failure is often temporary. Common causes of acute kidney failure can include:
- Autoimmune kidney diseases
- A urinary tract obstruction
- Uncontrolled systemic disease like heart or liver disease
Kidney failure usually doesnt happen overnight. Chronic kidney disease refers to a group of health conditions that affect how well your kidneys function over time. If left untreated, chronic kidney disease can lead to kidney failure.
The biggest causes of kidney failure from chronic kidney disease are:
- Diabetes: Unmanaged diabetes can lead to uncontrolled blood sugar levels. Consistently high blood sugar can damage the bodys organs, including the kidneys.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure means blood travels through your bodys blood vessels with increased force. Over time, untreated high blood pressure levels can damage the kidneys tissue.
Other causes of chronic kidney disease include:
- Polycystic kidney disease, a hereditary condition where cysts grow inside your kidneys.
- Glomerular diseases, such as glomerulonephritis, which affect how well the kidneys can filter waste.
- Lupus and other autoimmune diseases that can affect multiple body systems.
Can I Be Active With Kidney Failure
Yes. Physical activity is an important part of staying healthy when you have kidney failure. Being active makes your muscles, bones, and heart stronger. Physical activity also makes your blood travel through your body faster so your body gets more oxygen. Your body needs oxygen to use the energy from food.
You may find that physical activity can also improve your mood and make you feel better.
Talk with your doctor before you start a new exercise routine. Start slowly, with easier activities such as walking at a normal pace or gardening. Work up to harder activities such as walking briskly. Aim to be active on as many days as possible.
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Upset Stomach Nausea Vomiting
Why this happens:
A severe build-up of wastes in the blood can also cause nausea and vomiting. Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss.
What patients said:
I had a lot of itching, and I was nauseated, throwing up all the time. I couldn’t keep anything down in my stomach.
When I got the nausea, I couldn’t eat and I had a hard time taking my blood pressure pills.
What Causes Hydronephrosis
Your urinary tract is composed of your kidneys, your bladder, your ureters, and your urethra, and itâs a primary means to remove excess fluid and waste from your body. Your kidneys are instrumental in filtering your blood, and your ureters are tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder, and theyâre how urine passes from the kidneys to the bladder. Issues at any point along the urinary tract can lead to hydronephrosis.â
In many cases, hydronephrosis has no clear cause. When there is a known cause, itâs either obstruction, where urine cannot leave the bladder because the urinary tract has been blocked, or reflux, when urine flows backwards into the kidney due to muscular issues.
Obstruction may occur at any point along the urinary tract, like when a ureter swells and blocks the flow of urine into the bladder, or a kidney stone blocks the urethra.
In children, over half of hydronephrosis cases have unknown causes, and the condition clears up on its own. Very rarely, a child may be born with a ureter that has not connected to the bladder in the normal location, which is treatable with surgery.
Adults. In adults, a range of conditions can cause hydronephrosis. These can include:
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What Causes Kidney Pain
Kidneys drain urine to the bladder via tubes called ureters. Your bladder is emptied via the urethra. Problems in any of these areas can cause pain, and may be caused by:
If you have had kidney stones in the past, it may not always be necessary to have a computed tomography scan, which exposes you to radiation. Ask your doctor if a CT scan is necessary for you. For further information, visit the Choosing Wisely Australia website.
Kidney Cysts And Tumors
Fluid-filled sacs in the kidney, called renal cysts, can cause kidney swelling.
Renal cysts are usually benign but are occasionally cancerous. They may occur as single or many cysts.
Unilateral renal cystic disease is a rare disorder characterized by multiple cysts in just one kidney 2. It generally causes no symptoms and does not interfere with normal kidney function.
Kidney tumors may also cause swelling of one kidney. These tumors may be benign or cancerous. Kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute6.
In the early stages of kidney cancer, there are usually no symptoms.
Flank pain, blood in the urine and fever often appear with more advanced disease. Sometimes kidney cancer enters the renal vein or causes a blood clot to form in the renal vein, producing further swelling of the kidney.
- Fluid-filled sacs in the kidney, called renal cysts, can cause kidney swelling.
- Unilateral renal cystic disease is a rare disorder characterized by multiple cysts in just one kidney 2.
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Food Tastes Like Metal
Why this happens:
A build-up of wastes in the blood can make food taste different and cause bad breath. You may also notice that you stop liking to eat meat, or that you are losing weight because you just don’t feel like eating.
What patients said:
Foul taste in your mouth. Almost like you’re drinking iron.
I don’t have the appetite I had before I started dialysis, I must have lost about 10 pounds.
Signs Of Kidney Disease
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How Is Kidney Pain Treated
The treatment for kidney pain depends on what is causing it. Be sure to call your doctor if you have any kidney pain. Your doctor may do:
- A urine test to check for signs of infection
- Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to see if your kidneys are injured
Once you know what is causing your pain, your doctor can work with you to find the right treatment.
Other Considerations Warnings And Precautions
Because kidney enlargement often causes no symptoms, it is often discovered incidentally on an imaging study such as an an abdominal ultrasound, x-ray or CT scan. Although oversized kidneys often signal a medical problem, this is not always the case. For example, some people are born with only one kidney which grows larger than usual to compensate for lack of a second kidney. Similarly, when one kidney is damaged, the other might enlarge to compensate.
Kidney enlargement must be investigated to determine the underlying cause.Often the enlargement is temporary and does not cause permanent organ damage, such as with a kidney infection or urinary stone. If a chronic kidney disorder is diagnosed, your doctor will advise you about how best to preserve your kidney function.
Seek urgent medical attention if you experience any warning signs or symptoms, including:
- Severe or worsening flank or abdominal pain
- Fever or chills
- Sudden decrease in urine production or lack of urination
Reviewed and revised by: Tina M. St. John, M.D.
- Because kidney enlargement often causes no symptoms, it is often discovered incidentally on an imaging study such as an an abdominal ultrasound, x-ray or CT scan.
- Often the enlargement is temporary and does not cause permanent organ damage, such as with a kidney infection or urinary stone.
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Will Kidney Failure Affect My Sex Life
Kidney failure will affect your emotions, nerves, hormones, and energy levels, all of which may change your sexual relationships. Taking good care of yourself by managing your kidney disease and controlling your blood pressure and blood glucose levels can help prevent some sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction. Getting counseling may help with some emotional problems, such as anxiety and depression, which can get in the way of having satisfying sex.
You may feel shy asking questions about your sex life, but your health care team has heard the same questions from other people. Your provider is trained to help you address concerns about your sex life.
Kidney Pain: Causes Why Kidneys Hurt And When To Seek Care
- Medically reviewed by
Kidney pain can have many causes. It may be a sign of an infection, injury or another health problem, such as kidney stones. Because of where your kidneys are in your body, kidney pain is also often confused with back pain. Talk to your doctor to find out what is causing your kidney pain and to find the right treatment.
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What Are The Risks Of Hydronephrosis
Swelling in one or both kidneys from too much urine buildup may lead to long-term kidney damage. Partial blockages may cause loss of urine control. Severe hydronephrosis may cause a blood infection called sepsis. Sepsis is toxin buildup in your blood. It happens when your kidneys cannot flush toxins out of your body. It could also paralyze your intestines. Your kidneys could fail without treatment. These conditions may be life-threatening.
Who’s Most Likely To Get A Kidney Infection
Women and children are most at risk of developing a kidney infection, as well as other urinary tract infections such as cystitis.
Other factors can also put you more at risk of developing a kidney infection, including:
- having a condition that blocks, or obstructs, your urinary tract, such as kidney stones or an enlarged prostate children with constipation can also be at an increased risk
- being born with an abnormality in your urinary tract
- having a condition that prevents you emptying your bladder fully, such as an injury to your spinal cord this can allow bacteria in your bladder to multiply and spread
- having a weakened immune system for example, due to type 2 diabetes or as a side effect of chemotherapy
- having an infection of the prostate gland called prostatitis the infection can spread from the prostate gland into the kidneys
- having a urinary catheter
- being female and sexually active sexual intercourse can irritate the urethra and allow bacteria to travel into your bladder
- being pregnant this can cause physical changes that slow the flow of urine out of your body and make it easier for bacteria to spread to the kidneys
- having undergone female genital mutilation an illegal practice where a woman’s genitals are deliberately cut or changed for cultural, religious and social reasons
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How Do You Treat An Enlarged Kidney
In many cases, hydronephrosis is best treated by addressing the underlying cause of this condition. Infections, for example, can be treated with antibiotics to relieve the swelling and inflammation that is likely causing hydronephrosis. In cases where a kidney stone is causing the blockage, your doctor may recommend a wait-and-see approach to see if the stone is passed on its own.
In severe cases of an enlarged kidney, or in cases where the blockage isnt resolved by treating the underlying health issue, a medical intervention may be necessary. Your doctor may recommend using a catheter to drain urine from the bladder, or even a special procedure to drain urine directly out of the kidney, if lasting kidney damage is a concern.
Ultimately, your doctor will want to manage the blockage and ensure that drainage is provided before the buildup of urine causes damage requiring dialysis or a kidney transplant. In a limited number of cases, this will involve using surgery to remove a blockage that wont resolve on its own.
When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
See your doctor if you have persistent pain in the kidney area, or if you have back pain along with any of the following symptoms:
- Fever or chills.
- Nausea or vomiting such that you cannot eat or drink.
- Oddly colored pee.
- A repeated urgent need to pee that is unusual for you.
- The appearance of solid material in your pee.
- A general feeling of illness or lethargy that wont go away.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Kidney pain may be mild or severe. Sometimes its harmless, but in most cases, it means that you have a problem somewhere in your urinary system. If you develop back pain along with fever, vomiting, pain when you pee or other worrisome symptoms, see a healthcare provider right away. They can find out whats causing your kidney pain and figure out how to treat the problem.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/31/2022.
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Possible Complications Of Hydronephrosis
The most common complication of hydronephrosis is a urinary tract infection. Itâs also possible to contract a kidney infection, which is a serious â â but treatable â â condition. When a chronic obstruction is finally relieved, you might experience post-obstructive diuresis, a condition in which you urinate excessively.
Antenatal Hydronephrosis In Babies
Antenatal hydronephrosis is increasingly being found in unborn babies during routine ultrasound scans.
It’s estimated to show up on at least 1 in every 100 pregnancies.
As a parent, it can be worrying to learn your baby has a problem with their kidneys. But most cases of hydronephrosis in babies are not serious and should not affect the outcome of your pregnancy. Sometimes, babies born with ANH may need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent kidney infections, but most babies born with ANH will have no lasting problems.
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