Musculoskeletal problems are the most common cause of back pain, but occasionally, back pain can be a symptom of kidney problems. If you are experiencing pain that moves towards your side and groin area, or if you have a fever or urinary symptoms, then your kidneys could be the source.
Your Kidneys and Flank Area
Your kidneys are located below your ribs, which is why a problem with these organs can often be felt in your upper back or flank, or side area.
Kidney and Flank Pain Causes
Kidney or flank pain typically feels like a dull ache on one side of your upper back. It can be caused by a number of different infections or injuries.
The most common causes of flank or kidney pain are:
- Kidney stones
- Pyelonephritis — kidney infection
- Polycystic kidney disease
- Kidney infarction
- Hemorrhage of the kidney
- Kidney cancer or tumor
- Renal vein thrombosis
In addition to kidney problems, upper back and side pain can be caused by many different things, including physical injury, arthritis, or gallbladder, or gastrointestinal diseases, so it’s important to know when to seek care.
When Should I See My Doctor About Kidney (Flank) Pain?
You should see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Constant, dull pain in one side of your back or flank
- Body aches, fatigue, fever
- Recent urinary tract infection (UTI)
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.