Column in Formsante Magazine dated 24.10.2020

Kidney pain is known to be unbearable and many people experience it. But, what causes kidney pain? How is it understood that the pain has kidney origin? How to treat kidney pain? Explaining how and in which region kidney pains are felt, Urology Specialist Assoc. Dr. Berkan Reşorlu explained the causes of kidney pain.

Kidneys are the organs located just below the rib cage on the back of the abdomen, filtering harmful wastes in the blood and allowing these wastes to be excreted in the form of urine with water. Apart from producing urine, kidneys also have other important tasks such as maintaining the body’s acid-base balance, keeping the bones strong by synthesizing vitamin D, balancing blood pressure and protecting the body against anemia.

If the diseases in these organs, which undertake many vital functions for our body, are not diagnosed and treated early, they can lead to life-threatening problems. For this reason, our body activates symptoms such as pain, high fever and nausea as a defense and warning mechanism in problems affecting our kidneys. Therefore, kidney-induced pain is important in terms of being a harbinger of an underlying disease, as well as its negative effects.


Kidney pain is mainly felt in the upper side of the abdomen (flank area), but the pain is often reflected in the back, groin and genital area. Back pain originating from the musculoskeletal system and pain caused by the organs of the abdominal digestive system (appendicitis, gallstones, pancreatic diseases, intestinal diseases, etc.) can often be confused with kidney pain.

There are some clues that distinguish kidney pain from other pains. For example, the pain caused by the musculoskeletal system is often of a character that changes with the position. The pain increases when the person bends or lifts a load. Renal pain does not change in severity with position or movement.

In cases of pain caused by the organs of the abdominal digestive system, patients often stand still due to excessive sensitivity in the abdominal area, and feel serious sensitivity by touching the abdomen. Renal pain, on the other hand, comes in writhing and waves, and the patient is constantly mobile and writhing. Especially people who have kidney stones describe their pain as the most severe pain they have experienced in their life.


Kidney stones
Kidney infection
Obstruction of kidney vessels (renal vein thrombosis)
Kidney tumors, kidney cysts
Swelling of the kidney channels due to compression (such as pregnancy)
Intrarenal bleeding

Kidney pain is the leading complaint among those. It is a very common disease and our country is one of the geographies where this disease is most common. In a study conducted in the UK, it was reported that 7-9% of the Emergency Service calls in Europe originate from kidney stones. It causes a sudden onset and very severe pain. The patient cannot stay still, he is constantly moving and writhing. Apart from pain, nausea, vomiting, weakness and blood in the urine are other complaints seen in stone patients.


First of all, the underlying disorder causing kidney pain should be identified and a treatment plan should be made accordingly. For this distinction, a detailed anamnesis (medical history) should be taken from the patient, a physical examination, and some laboratory and radiological imaging tests, if necessary, are required. If kidney stones are the cause of pain, follow-up, medication or surgical treatment may be recommended. If there is an infection, outpatient or inpatient antibiotic treatment will be required. For other underlying causes (tumor, cyst, vascular occlusion, trauma, etc.), it will be necessary to determine an appropriate treatment approach such as interventional procedure, surgical treatment or drug therapy.

Although kidney pain negatively affects the life of the person and impairs the quality of life, it is important in terms of being a harbinger of an underlying disease. It should be kept in mind that diseases such as underlying stones, vascular occlusion, infection, and cancer can result in organ loss and death if they are not diagnosed and treated early.


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