Flank pain

Definition

Flank pain is pain in one side of the body between the upper belly area (abdomen) and the back.

Alternative Names

Pain - side; Side pain

Considerations

Flank pain can be a sign of a kidney problem. However, since many organs are in this area, other causes are possible. If you have flank pain and fever, chills, blood in the urine, or frequent or urgent urination, then a kidney problem is the likely cause. It could be a sign of kidney stones.

Causes

Home Care

Treatment depends on the cause.

Rest, physical therapy, and exercise may be recommended if the pain is caused by muscle spasm.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy may be prescribed for flank pain caused by spinal arthritis. You will be taught how to do these exercises at home.

Antibiotics are used to treat most kidney infections. You will also receive fluids and pain medicine. You may need to stay in the hospital.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The doctor or nurse will examine you. You will be asked questions about your medical history and symptoms, including:

The health care team monitor how many fluids you receive and how much and often you urinate.

The following tests may be done:

References

Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 116.

McQuaid K, Proctor DD. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24thed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 134.

Millham FH. Acute abdominal pain. In: Feldman M, FriedmanLS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 10.


Review Date: 1/6/2013
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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