Kidney Pain: Causes and Treatment

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Kidney Pain

Kidney pain in the right or left kidney can occur suddenly, although sometimes people experience discomfort for a long time and are not in a hurry to see a doctor for help. Meanwhile, pain in the kidneys almost never appears against the background of absolute health and always indicates the presence of a certain problem.

The kidneys are paired organs that resemble large beans in shape, and the weight of one kidney can reach 0.2 kg. The main function of the kidneys is to remove water and water-soluble substances from the body. This is a complex multi-stage process that ensures the normal functioning of all organ systems and allows a person to live.

According to statistics, in USA about 6% of the population suffers from kidney disease, and the vast majority of nephrological patients are women. It is important to understand that most of the kidney pathologies are very dangerous. They can be fatal. The reasons that cause them can be very diverse: an unhealthy lifestyle, physical inactivity, bad habits, burdened heredity, etc.

Very often, kidney pathologies are hidden, therefore, even a slight discomfort in the right or left kidney, as well as in the lumbar region, should be a reason for contacting a specialist.


Types of Kidney Pain and Its Location

At the doctor’s appointment, patients often indicate that they have symptoms of kidney pain. In fact, only high-quality laboratory and instrumental diagnostics will reveal the nature of pain. Nephrologists point out that the kidneys are quite patient organs and cannot hurt by themselves.

So, the capsule that surrounds the kidney can react with pain in the lumbar region. It provokes unpleasant sensations of its stretching, which is often observed with a heart attack or a pronounced inflammatory process of the organ.

Renal Colic

A separate type of pain is renal colic. Its source is not the kidney tissue, but the ureter through which the stone moves. The pain is most often one-sided, occurs unexpectedly for a person and is very intense.

The classic symptom of renal colic is severe cramping pain in the lumbar region, or in the costo-vertebral angle. It can manifest itself at night when a person is sleeping. Sometimes colic begins after exercise, after shaking (for example, while driving), after taking diuretics, or after drinking a lot of fluids.

The pain can radiate to the iliac region, to the thigh, to the intestines, to the external genitals.

Duration of renal colic from 3 to 18 hours or more. During this time, its intensity and location may change. The person himself is very restless during an attack, cannot find a place for himself. In parallel, he feels the urge to empty his bladder. Later, oliguria or anuria, thirst, dry mouth, chills develop. Sometimes colic is of such intensity that it can provoke a state of shock with a drop in blood pressure, with pale skin, with the appearance of cold sticky sweat, etc.

Other Symptoms of Kidney Pain

Sometimes pain in the kidneys can be given not to the lower back, but to the area under the lower ribs. After all, it is there that these organs are located.

As for the nature of the pain, there may be aching, pulling, cutting, stabbing, sharp pain. It can be paroxysmal, or it can be present on an ongoing basis.

Until the doctor examines the person, it will not be possible to find out the cause of the pain. Moreover, it is impossible even to say unequivocally that pain is of renal origin. After all, other organs are located nearby: intestines, spleen, liver, spine. All of them can be susceptible to a variety of pathologies and are often the source of pain, which is confused with renal pain.

Kidney Pain
Kidney Pain

Indirect signs indicating that the pain is of a renal nature can be:

  • Swelling on the face, swelling of the lower extremities, which intensifies in the morning and becomes less noticeable in the evening.
  • Headaches, weakness and fatigue, which cannot be explained.
  • An increase in body temperature both to sub-febrile levels and to high values.
  • Change in the usual color or odor of urine.

If a person develops symptoms of kidney pain, then a doctor’s consultation is mandatory.

Causes of Kidney Pain

The causes of pain in the kidney area can be varied. The etiological factors include various diseases of an infectious and non-infectious nature, diseases of adjacent organs, congenital developmental anomalies, etc…

Kidney stones (urolithiasis or urolithiasis). Kidney stones are one of the most common causes of painful sensations. This disease is widespread, and the frequency of its occurrence is increasing every year.

There are many factors influencing the development of urolithiasis: gastrointestinal tract pathology, physical inactivity, trauma, abnormalities in the development of the kidneys, dietary habits, etc. Pain in the kidneys with urolithiasis can be limited to a single episode of renal colic, and can be recurrent. In this case, urolithiasis does not always manifest itself only in colic; dull and intermittent pains may occur. This largely depends on the location of the stone and on its size. An asymptomatic course of the disease is possible.

Pyelonephritis is an infectious kidney disease that is caused by various bacteria. Both kidneys or one of them can become inflamed at the same time. The disease develops at any age.

As for the pains, they are localized in the lumbar region, most often one-sided, aggravated by tapping on the lower back. The nature of the pain is dull, its intensity may vary. At the same time, headaches occur, there is an increase in body temperature to high marks, loss of appetite, profuse sweating, etc.

Glomerulonephritis. Glomerulonephritis is of an immuno-inflammatory nature, characterized to a greater extent by damage to the renal glomeruli, to a lesser extent to the renal tubules and interstitial tissue. The disease can develop on its own, or it can occur with other systemic pathologies, for example, with lupus erythematosus, with endocarditis, hemorrhagic vasculitis.

Pain with glomerulonephritis occurs in the acute period of the disease (most often it develops after 2-3 weeks from the transferred tonsillitis, tonsillitis or other streptococcal infection). The place of localization of pain is the lumbar region. Her character is most often dull and aching. In parallel, the patient’s body temperature rises, appetite disappears, and general weakness develops. An important symptom that indicates glomerulonephritis is edema. In addition, in 60% of patients, blood pressure rises with a decrease in urine output in the first 3-5 days.

Renal artery stenosis and thrombosis. Stenosis of the renal arteries is accompanied by a narrowing of the lumen of one or both arteries, as well as their branches. The most common causes of stenosis are atherosclerosis and fibromuscular dysplasia.

Pain in the kidney is most often dull, characterized by the appearance of heaviness in the lumbar region. Pain occurs periodically, and as the disease progresses, it may be present on an ongoing basis. In parallel, a person’s blood pressure rises and persistent hypertension develops.

Kidney Pain - Causes and Treatment
Kidney Pain: Causes and Treatment

Renal artery thrombosis requires immediate medical attention. Pain in the kidneys is caused by a blockage by a blood clot in one of the blood vessels of the organ. The pain is very intense, localized mainly in the lumbar region, radiating to the back, side and abdomen. In addition, a person’s blood pressure significantly rises, nausea and vomiting develop, urine is either absent or excreted in small quantities.

Kidney Cyst Polycystic. kidney disease is a congenital malformation that leads to malfunction of organs. The disease always affects both kidneys. The cysts are small, but there are a lot of them.

In adulthood, polycystic disease manifests itself in painful sensations and a feeling of heaviness in the lumbar region. Also, in the abdomen, pains of unknown etiology appear, which are explained by stretching of the kidneys. In parallel, a person experiences increased fatigue, frequent headaches. As the disease progresses, kidney disorders increase, migraines, arterial hypertension, and chronic uremia develop.

Benign and malignant kidney tumors. Benign renal tumors are oncocytoma, adenoma and hamartoma. As a rule, they do not show themselves for a long time. However, if the neoplasms are prone to rapid growth, then as the tumor grows in size, the person begins to experience unpleasant sensations. Most often, pains are aching or pulling in nature, localized in the lumbar region. Sometimes a person cannot even call these unpleasant sensations pain, but designates them as a feeling of discomfort. However, it should be remembered that all benign tumors can degenerate into malignant ones, which means that they require timely removal.

With a malignant tumor of the kidneys, pain is initially absent, and as the disease progresses, they begin to gain intensity. Severe pain most often indicates an advanced oncological process, when it is no longer possible to help a person. This is precisely the main danger of all oncological pathologies.

You should pay attention to lack of appetite, unexplained weight loss, anemia, subfebrile body temperature and any, even minor, discomfort in the kidney area.

Hydronephrosis. Hydronephrosis of the kidney is characterized by organ transformation due to impaired urine outflow. Such disorders are caused by obstruction of any part of the urinary system (tumor, blood clot, polyp, etc.), or by the failure of the bladder valves, which leads to reverse urine flow.

In acute hydronephrosis, the pain is paroxysmal, localized in the lower back and proceeding as renal colic. They radiate to the groin, to the ureter, to the perineum, and to the genitals. Urination also becomes painful, becomes more frequent, and vomiting occurs.

In chronic hydronephrosis, the pain is weak, mainly localized in the lumbar-costal angle, their character is dull. It is noteworthy that they intensify after intense physical activity or after drinking a lot of fluids.

Congenital kidney defects. As a rule, a person is aware of congenital kidney defects from an early age, since they are all diagnosed during an ultrasound scan (during infancy). Most of them do not show themselves with any symptoms. However, aching pains may occur from time to time. They can be triggered by a wide variety of factors (violation of the outflow of urine, clamping of the renal vessels or ureter, etc.).

Kidney pain can occur with malformations such as:

  • Doubling of the kidney, its pelvis or ureter.
  • Polycystic kidney disease.
  • Congenital stenosis of the ureter.
  • Irregular kidney shape (S-shaped, horseshoe-shaped, biscuit-shaped kidney).

People with kidney malformations should be more careful about any organ dysfunctions, as they are at risk for kidney disease.

Kidney injury. Naturally, the resulting kidney injury will provoke the appearance of painful sensations. However, it should be clarified that the intensity of pain will not always correspond to the degree of organ damage. Sometimes, even with severe trauma, the pains can be mild, and, conversely, with minor trauma, the pains are quite intense.

So, bruises are most often manifested by mild pain in the lumbar region, and kidney ruptures are characterized by acute painful sensations. The detachment of a part of the kidney refers to severe injuries, which are characterized by extremely intense pain, up to a state of shock. Any kidney injury requires qualified medical attention.

Nephrotuberculosis is a lesion of the kidney parenchyma by mycobacterium tuberculosis. In the early stages, the infection runs latently and does not give itself away. Low back pain occurs as the disease progresses, they are of moderate intensity, are dull in nature. In the event that there is a violation of the outflow of urine, the pain proceeds as colic.

Kidney Nephroptosis. This is a condition in which an organ is displaced in one direction or another. Often, during a violation of the position of the kidney, a person experiences characteristic pains that are localized in the lumbar region and are given to the stomach.

Other Causes of Kidney Pain

It should be understood that painful sensations in the lumbar region are not always associated with kidney pathologies.

Sometimes they can occur for other reasons, including:

Carrying a baby. Pain can occur due to the fact that the growing fetus and the enlarged uterus press on the kidneys. This is especially noticeable in late pregnancy.

Osteochondrosis. If a person has degenerative changes in the vertebrae and intervertebral discs of the lumbar spine, then this can also cause painful sensations that people often confuse with pain in the kidneys. The pain is so acute that it literally fetters a person and forces him to accept his forced position. It becomes difficult for him to sit down, get up, walk. The pain is most often dull and present on an ongoing basis.

Herniated Disc. The pain syndrome that a person experiences with a herniated disc can often be confused with pain in the kidneys. Painful sensations are always acute and intense enough. They tend to radiate to the lower extremities, to the buttocks, to the groin area.

Lumbago. If osteochondrosis of the lumbar spine and disc herniation are the most well-known diseases that provoke pain in the kidney area, then there are many other pathologies of this region in which similar sensations arise. Therefore, all pain in the lumbosacral region is called lumbago. Lumbago is accompanied by acute pain and limitation of motor activity. This condition can be characterized by malformations of the spine, subluxation of the vertebra, trauma to the vertebrae, overwork and overstrain of the muscles of the lumbar region, pinched nerve, any destructive changes in the spinal column. A distinctive feature of pain in the kidneys is the fact that the pain increases when the hand is placed behind the back.

Acute Appendicitis. Although pain in the kidneys with appendicitis occurs infrequently, such a phenomenon is sometimes observed. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that the inflamed vermiform appendix in humans is located in the wrong place.

Prostatitis and prostate adenoma. Pain in prostatitis can radiate to the lower back and resemble kidney pain. However, in parallel, a man will have problems with potency, impaired outflow of urine and other symptoms that are characteristic only of prostatitis.

Bowel diseases such as: ulcerative colitis, inflammation of the diverticulum, bowel tumors can provoke low back pain.

Pain in the area of ​​the right and left kidney can be provoked not only by the pathology of these particular organs, but often the suspicion arises in relation to the kidneys. Nevertheless, one can even suspect another disease independently, because each of them is accompanied by a number of specific signs, and renal symptoms (edema, pressure surges, dysuric disorders, etc.), as a rule, are absent.

Treatment of Renal Pain

Treatment of pain in the kidney area directly depends on what provoked the cause of its occurrence. For infectious diseases, antibiotics and antiseptic drugs are required. In some cases, diuretics are prescribed. Severe pathologies require surgical intervention, for example, when it comes to kidney tumors.

Treatment of Renal Pain
Treatment of Renal Pain

Treatment of pain in the kidney area, depending on the disease:

  • Kidney stones treatment (best medicinal herbs for urolithiasis),
  • Kidney cyst treatment,
  • Pyelonephritis treatment, (pyelonephritis medicines)
  • Glomerulonephritis treatment,
  • Kidney cancer treatment.

Sometimes doctors take a wait-and-see tactic, its duration depends on the patient’s condition. So, as a rule, kidney malformations do not require treatment, if they are not complicated by any diseases.

In order to relieve pain in the kidney area, it is possible to take painkillers and antispasmodic drugs, including: Baralgin, No-shpa, Platifillin, Promedol, Atropine.

If the patient has a prolonged attack of renal colic, then he is performed novocaine blockade of the spermatic cord or uterine ligament from the side of the lesion.

When it comes to home remedies for kidney pain, such as taking hot baths, this can be quite dangerous. So, in acute kidney disease, accompanied by an increase in body temperature (for example, with pyelonephritis), any thermal procedures are contraindicated.

It is important to understand that adequate treatment of pain in the kidney area can only be carried out by a doctor after the cause of this condition is found out.