Left & right flank pain causes, symptoms & treatment

flank pain

Flank pain is a pain in one side of the body between the abdomen or upper belly area and the back. Normally flank pain is the sigh of a kidney problems or kidney failure. However, since several organs are in this area, many other causes are possible. On the other hand if you have flank pain and chills, fever, blood in urine, urgent urination, frequent urination the kidney disease or kidney problems are the likely causes. Sometimes it could be a sigh of a kidney stone.

What is flank pain?

Flank pain refers to the discomfort or pain in your upper abdomen or the back side. Normally it is located above the pelvis and below the ribs and on the side. Basically flank pain refers to pain in your side and also back. Normally the flank pain is worse on one side of the body. Most of the people experience flank pain at least once in whole life. And usually flank pain is short lived. On the other hand severe or constant flank pain can be caused due to serious medical condition such as kidney failure, kidney infection, infection into urinary tract and dehydration. Normally severe flank pain can happen due to kidney stone. If you experience in chronic flank pain, then it is very important to talk with your doctor and take appropriate treatment.

Where does flank pain feel?

Flank pain usually felt in the area above your hip bone and above your rib cage and often in lower back. Flank pain may be severe or dull that you cannot get comfortable. The flank pain can stay in one area of your body or this pain can be rotate to other area. Flank pain can lighten and worsen in waves. The flank pain is normally a sign of urinary tract problems like kidney infection.

Why flank pain happen?

Normally flank pain is happen due to renal colic that indicates problems of kidney. But the tram “renal colic” does not appropriately define flank pain, because the colic implies repeated while the flank pain tends to be constant. Normally Severe flank pain may spread from the back into the groin and can cause nausea and vomiting. Flank pain can also happen due to Kidney Tumors, Renal abscesses, acute renal infarction and Retrocaval ureter.

Right flank pain

The flank region is the abdominal area between the pelvic bone and ribs on either side of the body. Usually the right flank is essentially the right lumber area- one of nine abdominal regions. Normally right flank includes area of the body twisting around the sides of abdomen to the back. On the other hand the lower part of flank area is where the fats tends to accumulate and is commonly referred to spare tire or love handle. The flank region is also known by several other term including left and right lumbar region, loins etc.

What is right flank pain?

In most cases flank pain is in due to the problems in the ureter or kidney, irrespective of whether it may occur on the left or right flank. However, there are many other causes that may also responsible for flank pain. The flank pain can move into right or left side. Normally right flank pain indicates a disorder with one or more of the organs that lying in this area. These organs include:

  1. Gall bladder.
  2. Appendix
  3. Urinary bladder.
  4. Right kidney.

Left flank pain

Left flank pain that may causes in the left side of the human body because of common pain like acute infection like severe pyelonephritis or muscular spasm. Kidney pain, kidney problems, gastrointestinal disorder, Diverticulitis, urinary tract infection may also give rise due to this pain. If the stone is develop on the left kidney, and then there may be a left side pain in patient.

What is left flank pain?

Left flank pain refers to pain that happen on the left side of the upper area of the body. Pain experienced into the upper area of the body between the hip bone and ribs which includes the upper area of the abdomen and also back. This area or portion comprises of a several different and essential organs including heart, spleen, left kidney, stomach etc.

In addition, the left flank pain can also involve the ribs or left lung that are the part of the left flank region. Normally the treatment of the left flank pain depends upon the underlying causes of pain and also the multiplicity of the organ that involved.

Left side flank pain

The abdominal area is a prone for various types of pain like right flank pain, left side flank pain, abdominal pain etc. digestive systems and some other its supporting organs are situated in this area; as a result it is a central point of different types of pain. Left side flank pain can affect the whole area or focus on only certain region of the abdomen. Left side flank pain can be triggered by several reason like kidney infection, urinary tract infection, food poisoning, bowel obstruction etc. other causes of left side flank pain are irritable bowel syndrome, left ulcerative colitis and left ectopic pregnancy.

Areas related left side flank pain

The left side flank pain contains a number of several vital organs and also some other parts of our digestive system. Normally it also contains arteries, nerve, muscle and ribs that form the rest human structure. Normally any one of these condition can be infected, inflamed, injured the normal function and can trigger severe pain in left flank side and other symptoms.

The following are some of body part or main organ that associated with left side flank pain.

  1. The spleen.
  2. The stomach.
  3. Left half of large intestine.
  4. Left adrenal gland.
  5. Left kidney.
  6. Left urethra.
  7. Sigmoid colon.
  8. Nerves that present on the left side of abdomen.
  9. Left ovary in women.
  10. Tail and body of pancreases.
  11. Left edge of liver.
  12. Skin covering left flank side of abdomen.
  13. Left fallopian tube in women.

Flank pain location

Flank pain is a pain that is usually located in the side of the body and a region spanning from the hip to the ribs. The definition of flank pain is a pain that normally happen into the flank region of our body. Flank pain is often referred pain from the some other organ in the body. The flanks themselves do not any pain in general but the flank pain can be so problematic making it complicated for the individual who suffer from flank pain. The most common cause of stiffness and flank pain may be due to excess exercise. Normally sportsman may develop such types of pain.

What causes flank pain?

Some medical condition may cause flank pain. Major causes of flank pain are including:

Urinary calculi

Flank pain is one of the classical presenting sign any symptoms of urinary calculi. It is predominant cause of the flank pain which occurs in absence of fever. “Renal colic” the term is actually a misnomer because flank pain tends to remain constant. The acute onset of the severe flank pain that radiates to the gross or the microscopic hematuria, vomiting and nausea are not associated with an acute abdomen are symptoms which most likely indicate the renal colic caused by a renal pelvic obstruction from a calculus. The Renal colic pains rarely if ever happen without obstruction.


Pyelonephritis is one of the common causes of the flank pain. Flank pain discomfort is generally as a relatively dull ache rather than the typical renal colic pain. Chills, fever, vomiting, nausea are the most common symptoms, along with the stiff neck and headache. The patient with the pyelonephritis often tend to lie extremely still in comparison to patient with the renal colic, which move constantly in search for a comfortable position. The Extensive imaging studies may not require in cases of the obvious pyelonephritis. In some cases the ultra sonogram may be very helpful to identify hydronephrosis, because the pyelonephritis does not exhibit any renal pelvic or ureteral dilation.

Renal abscesses

It is one of the major causes of flank pain. Renal abscesses tend to cause much more severe pain than the pyelonephritis. This is happening due to the increased edema and also inflammations produced further elongate the renal capsule. Sometime the flank mass may be blatant. Normally Urinalysis often demonstrates the urinary infection. In some cases urinalysis findings can be normal. Chills and fever are common symptoms.

Consider a possible renal abscess into any patient with the pyelonephritis who does not progress with antibiotic therapy. CT scan and renal ultrasonography are the most common useful studies for making this diagnosis.

Kidney tumor

It is one of the major causes of flank pain and this is usually because of the stretching of renal capsule. When the patient has tumor and that have broken off due to the necrosis, in this state they can causes renal obstruction. On the other hand the obstruction of the urethra sometime leads to the inflammation that causes the flank pain. The extension of the tumor may also cause the flank pain, even this occur graduate and the patient hardly exhibits flank pain.

Papillary necrosis

Papillary necrosis occurs due to acute obstruction of urethra. It is another common causes if flank pain. The causes of the obstruction are sloughed papilla. This condition comes about due to abuse of liver cirrhosis, diabetes and analgesics. Normally women are likely more affected by these problems than then man. Vascular ischemia is usually responsible for sloughing of the papilla. Other causes of the papillary necrosis are sickle cells disease tuberculosis, urinary tract obstruction, systemic vasculitis and renal transplant rejection. The best treatment for papillary necrosis is nephrotomies that bypasses the obstruction and thereby relieve the pain.

Herpes zoster

Herpes zoster will causes the patient to experience a severe flank pain around the flank region. The flank pain normally comes before any changes to the skin come into view. Then the vesicles will be seen into the affected area and then the doctor will make a simple diagnosis. However, the flank pain is associated with the herpes zoster is somewhat dissimilar from that caused by the renal colic. Treatment of the herpes zoster is mainly by using analgesics for pain and also antiviral for the herpes virus.

Blood clots

It is another major cause of flank pain. The blood clot sometime causes acute renal colic attack, at the time they form a rapid ureteral obstruction. Blood clot may be from iatrogenic causes like percutaneous renal biopsies or other medical disorder such as sickle cell disease, angiomyolipomas, renal pelvis, , hemophilia and parenchymal tumors.

Muscle pain

Muscle pain from an strain or some other injury of the back or the flank can lead to dull aching pain or discomfort in the thoracolumbar area. Muscle pain is another major cause of flank pain. The flank discomfort is exacerbated by the bending and the lifting. The patient may reveal a history of the heavy lifting or the repetitive bending at work. Anti-inflammatory drugs, heat applications and antibiotics are major treatment option to relief muscle pain.

Acute renal infraction

Although acute urinary organ pathology is assumed to be a rare disorder, the very fact that it’s nearly always misdiagnosed at initial presentation makes correct prediction of its incidence troublesome. it’s currently believed to be a comparatively common clinical entity that’s ofttimes misdiagnosed at first as acute hurting, urinary tract infection, or acute abdomen.

Acute urinary organ pathology affects each kidney and each sexes equally. The typical age of affected patients is more or less sixty five years. Bad factors for acute urinary organ pathology embody age older than fifty years associate in nursing an exaggerated risk for occlusion like patients with a previous history of a thromboembolic event and chronic cardiac arrhythmia with inadequate medicinal drug medical aid.


When the body part or lower spinal nerve roots area unit contusioned the patient can expertise flank pain. The pain is sometimes focused round the tenth to twelfth ribs. The distribution of this pain resembles that of pain. However, whereas the pain related to pain is deep and throbbing, the pain related to redness is stabbing and sharp. Any movement that makes the pain worse and it will unfold anteriorly or inferiorly. If any of the transversal processes area unit contusioned during this space, the patient will expertise flank pain. This drawback sometimes affects ladies, and in most cases is expounded to inflammatory disease, previous open nephritic surgery and a history of broken ribs. The pain in the most cases comes from scarring and injury to the intercostal nerve. This can be the foremost common explanation for flank pain that’s not associated with the nephritic system.

Other causes of flank pain

Some other common causes of flank pain including:

  1. Kidney stone.
  2. Arthritis.
  3. Diverticulitis.
  4. Appendicitis.
  5. Acute myocardial infarction.
  6. Urethral obstruction from the bullet fragments and shotgun pellets.
  7. Gastrointestinal disease.
  8. Renal vein thrombosis.
  9. Muscle spasm.
  10. Dehydration.
  11. Acute nephritis.
  12. Polycystic kidney disease.
  13. Kidney failure.
  14. Kidney abscess.
  15. Ulcer disease.
  16. Kidney infection.
  17. Adrenal tumors and hemorrhage.
  18. Colon cancer.
  19. Splenic infarction.
  20. Pneumonia.
  21. Gallbladder disease.
  22. Liver disease.

Symptoms associated with flank pain

Flank pain can be achy, cramp-like or the colicky, that meaning it comes and goes like wave. If kidney stone causes the pain then it becomes colicky and extreme. Some major symptoms of flank pain including:

  1. Rash,
  2. Fever.
  3. Dizziness.
  4. Nausea.
  5. Constipation.
  6. Diarrhea.
  7. Blood in the urine.

You have to call your doctor in right away if you experience the underlying symptoms along with the flank pain:

  1. Chills.
  2. Fever
  3. Vomiting.
  4. Nausea.
  5. Blood in urine.
  6. Prolonged pain.

Dehydration is one of the possible causes of the flank pain. Immediate medical care needed if you experience flank pain along with the underlying symptoms:

  1. Extreme thirst.
  2. Lack of sweat output.
  3. Dizziness.
  4. Fast pulse.
  5. Dry, sticky mouth.
  6. Headaches.
  7. Constipation.
  8. Decreased urine output.

Diagnosis of flank pain

During your appointment in hospital, your doctor will try to identify the factor that causing flank pain. Doctor may ask you several questions such as:

  1. When the pain began.
  2. What kind of pain you are experiencing.
  3. What other symptoms you have.
  4. How often you experience the pain.
  5. If the pain is sudden and the passing, or constant.
  6. If you have had a current a decrease in output of the urine or intake of fluids.
  7. Whether there is pain into other parts of your body.

Other test for diagnosis of flank pain including:

CT scan in abdomen

It is one of the major diagnostic tools to indentify the location of flank pain. This technique also called Computed tomography scan. Usually a diagnostic imaging technique is use with combination of X-rays. A computer technique also uses to view the internal image of the body. The location of pain can be identifying by using CT scan technique.


Cystoscopy is a thin tube that connects with a camera and light on the end. During Cystoscopy technique this tube is inserted through urethra and into bladder to view the internal image of body. Urethra is a tube normally carries urine out of bladder. Camera are displayed the internal image to identify the infection area. These tests are normally done due to urinary tract infection, renal infection, urinary problems and blockage.


Urinalysis is a laboratory test that done to detect the problems that appears in your abdomen. This test is very important to identify kidney disease or urinary defect. It is one kinds of urine test to detect flank pain. Doctor may propose to Urinalysis for:

  1. Abdominal pain.
  2. Back pain.
  3. Blood in the urine.
  4. Diabetes.
  5. Kidney disease.
  6. Liver disease.
  7. Painful urination.
  8. Urinary tract infection.

Urine culture

It is another diagnostic tool to detect flank pain. Urine culture is a clinical test that can detect the presence of bacteria in urine. Urine culture test can identify and find out the germ that may causes urinary tract infection. The bacterium which usually causes urinary tract infection can come into the urinary tract through the urethra. In sterilized environment of urinary tract, these bacteria may grow rapidly and develop into an infection.

Abdominal ultrasound

Abdominal ultrasound is a type of imaging test. This test is used to examine the organ into abdomen including, kidney, liver, spleen, gallbladder and pancreas. The blood vessels that are lead to some of these organs also can be looked at with abdominal ultrasound. Ultrasound machine produce image of internal organ and structure into the body. The Ultrasound machine normally sends out high-frequency sound waves to create an image of internal organ. Unlike with X-ray and CT scan, abdominal ultrasound test does not expose you for ionizing radiation.

An abdominal ultrasound can indicate so other conditions such as:

  1. Abdominal aortic aneurysm.
  2. Abscess.
  3. Appendicitis.
  4. Cholecystitis.
  5. Gallstones.
  6. Hydronephrosis.
  7. Kidney stones.
  8. Pancreatitis (inflammation in pancreas).
  9. Spleen enlargement.

Some other test to diagnose flank pain

There have also some diagnostic technique to diagnose flank pain such as:

  1. Abdominal X-ray.
  2. An intravenous pyelogram or IVP.
  3. Blood test.
  4. Blood chemistry test.
  5. Voiding cystourethrography.
  6. Retrograde ureteropyelography.
  7. Lumbosacral spine x-ray.

Medication for flank pain

Some medication for flank pain including:

Pain medication

Some pain medications that may help to decrease or relieve you flank pain. You should not wait until your flank pain becomes severe. It is urgent treatment for flank pain.


Antibiotics medication may help to treat urinary tract infection that caused by bacteria. Antibiotics medication is also very helpful to reduce flank pain.

Take your drugs as directed.

Decision your primary tending supplier if you think that your drugs aren’t serving to or if you have got facet effects. Tell him if you’re allergic to any drugs. Keep an inventory of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you are taking. Embrace the amounts, and once and why you are taking them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your drugs list with you just in case of associate emergency.

Treatment of flank pain


Rest is the primary treatment of flank pain. Typically Minor flank pain can be treated with combination of physical therapy and rest. Sometime doctor recommended performing daily physical exercise to rapid relief from muscle spasm.

Anti-inflammatory medication

If the pain caused by inflammation like arthritis, pinched nerves and infections, then the treatment will be depend upon the condition. When the condition is determined as the form of arthritis in your spine, then doctor may suggest to done physical exercise programs and physical therapy. For sever inflammation doctor can prescribe some anti-inflammatory medication. This anti-inflammatory medication will help you to relief from pain and inflammation. Sometime antibiotics medication is required that depend upon the condition of inflammation.

Antibiotics and hospitalization

Both kidney stones and kidney infections mat required Antibiotics medication and hospitalization. Sometime doctor prescribe antibiotics, if you have kidney infection. But in some cases, you may receive those antibiotics intravenously. On the other hand if you have kidney stone, then you have to drink a lot of fluids that encourage the passing of kidney stone. In most cases surgery does not required for kidney stone.


Lithotripsy technique are use when the kidney stone does not pass, and this technique are use to break the stone in small pieces with high frequency sound waves. If the stone are broken down by the Lithotripsy technique, then they can easily pass through the ureters. Sometime surgical technique can be use to remove the stone.

Flank pain prevention

Flank pain could be prevented by following some technique including:

  1. Drinking plenty of fluids every day.
  2. Avoid alcohol.
  3. Practicing safe sex and hygiene.
  4. Healthy life style.
  5. Take healthy foods.

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