The kidneys are a pair of bean shaped organs located one on each side of the spine in the mid section of the back. The kidneys are responsible for the removal of waste products and excess water from the blood. The kidneys also prevent toxic build up of chemicals, drugs and vitamins in the body.
A common x-ray test used to determine the cause of kidney pain is the intravenous pyelogram, or IVP. Dye is injected into the patient’s vein and x-rayed as it travels through the kidneys, ureters and bladder. This test can show any obstructions in the urinary system. It may also indicate the kidneys functioning ability to remove the dye.
There are several illnesses that cause kidney pain. Symptoms that include kidney pain indicate a problem that generally needs further investigation by a physician. Kidney pain symptoms include pain of acute onset, at waist level in the back and side. Sometimes kidney pain is also called flank pain.
Kidney stones are mineral deposits that form within the kidney. A stone can cause excruciating pain when it begins to pass through the urinary tract system. Fever, chills, blood in the urine, nausea and vomiting may be present in addition to pain. The pain associated with kidney stones generally comes in waves that last various lengths of time. X-ray imaging is used to find the location of a kidney stone. Treatment usually includes medications to relieve pain, increasing fluids to help flush out the stone and or surgery to remove the some in some cases.
A urinary tract infection that has spread to the kidneys can cause kidney pain. A urinary tract infection is most often diagnosed by a urine screening and treated with antibiotics. A kidney infection can move into the bloodstream and become life threatening if left untreated. Fever, burning and pain upon urination, urgency and or hesitancy to urinate usually (not always) accompany kidney pain if you have a urinary tract infection.
Kidney pain following an accident or blow to the flank area may indicate bruising, contusion or damage to the kidney. CT scan and urinalysis aid in diagnosing any damage to the kidneys caused by trauma. Treatment will depend on cause and severity of the injury.
There are some disease processes that cause kidney pain. Most require x-ray imaging and other special diagnostic tests to diagnose them.
An example of kidney disease is polycystic kidney disease which causes cysts to be formed in one or both kidneys. Gradually kidney tissue is lost and so is the functioning ability of the kidney.
A serious illness that may present with symptoms very much like a kidney stone is an abdominal aortic aneurysm. This is a bulging weakness in the aorta, the large blood vessel that provides blood to the lower body. If an aortic aneurysm ruptures it is almost always fatal. Palpating the abdomen for a pulsating mass is how a doctor will check for an aneurysm of this type.