Kidney Pain

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What are the kidneys?

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The kidneys are two organs whose major functions are to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body and produce hormones that regulate blood pressure, red blood cell production, acid regulation and influence calcium, and electrolyte metabolism.

Where are the kidneys located?

The kidneys are bean-shaped organs (about 11 cm x 7cm x 3cm) that are located against the back muscles in the upper abdominal area. They sit opposite each other on both the left and right side of the body; the right kidney, however, sits a little lower than the left to accommodate the size of the liver.

Picture of the Location of the Kidneys
Picture of the Location of the Kidneys

What is the function of the kidneys?

The excess waste products and excess fluid are removed when the kidneys produce urine that is excreted from the body. In addition the kidneys play an important role in regulation of the body salt, potassium, and acid content. The kidneys also produce hormones that stimulate red blood cells to be produced, that help regulate blood pressure and help control calcium and electrolyte metabolism in the body.

What are the symptoms of kidney pain?

The symptom of kidney pain (also termed renal or flank pain) are discomfort (acute or chronic) or aches or sharp pain that occurs in the back between approximately the lowest rib and the buttock. Depending on the cause of the pain, it may radiate down the flank to the groin or toward the abdominal area. Some individuals may develop fever, dysuria (painful urination), blood in the urine; nausea and vomiting may occur.

Kidney pain itself is a symptom that may happen due to problems or diseases of the kidney or its associated renal structures like the ureters or bladder. However, other diseases may mimic kidney pain but are not due to the kidneys. For example, muscle strains in the back, spinal problems (fractures, abscesses), shingles, aortic abdominal aneurysm, and gynecological problems may mimic kidney or flank pain.

Although kidney pain often occurs on one side of the back, it can occur on both sides at the same time and may radiate toward the abdomen or groin.

Pain that occurs suddenly is sharp, severe and may increase and decrease in waves is often due to problems in the renal ureters (kidney stones). Pain caused by kidney stones is termed renal colic.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/29/2014

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