Kidney pain is felt in your sides, back, belly or groin. It’s often mistaken for back pain. Kidney pain can be caused by kidney stones, kidney infection, an injury or kidney cancer. Kidney pain treatment depends on the underlying cause.
Kidney pain (renal pain) is discomfort near your kidneys. Your kidneys are two bean-shaped organs located just below your ribcage, on each side of your spine. Kidney pain doesn’t always mean there’s a problem with your kidneys specifically — but it does usually indicate an issue somewhere in your urinary system.
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People often mistake kidney pain for back pain. But there are some key differences between kidney pain and how it feels compared to back pain.
Back pain usually affects the middle of your back, over your spine, and most commonly in the lower back. Spine-related issues can also cause back pain to sometimes radiate down your legs.
In comparison, kidney pain is typically located higher on your back and it often feels deeper. Most of the time, kidney pain symptoms occur under your ribs, to the right or left of your spine. Kidney pain may also radiate to other areas, such as your abdomen or groin. Sometimes, hip pain is confused with kidney pain, but hip pain is lower down in your back than kidney pain.
Your kidneys are connected to your bladder and ureters (the tubes that carry pee from your kidneys to your bladder). Problems with any of these areas can result in pain and discomfort. Possible causes of kidney pain include:
People with kidney pain may experience different symptoms. Some of the most common kidney pain symptoms include:
Kidney pain treatment depends on the condition that’s causing it. For example, if you have kidney pain due to an infection, your healthcare provider will prescribe antibiotics. If you have kidney pain due to stones, then you may need to have treatment to remove them.
In order to pinpoint a cause, a number of tools are available to help your healthcare provider make a diagnosis:
If you have kidney pain that doesn’t go away, the first thing you should do is call your healthcare provider to schedule an appointment or go to the emergency room if you have symptoms such as uncontrolled pain, severe nausea or vomiting, fevers or chills, or an inability to pee. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to ease discomfort:
In general, water is the best. Drinks that are high in sugar can lead to diabetes and those with lots of salt or caffeine can cause dehydration, both of which can lead to kidney damage over time.
See your doctor if you have persistent pain in the kidney area, or if you have back pain along with any of the following symptoms:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Kidney pain may be mild or severe. Sometimes it’s harmless, but in most cases, it means that you have a problem somewhere in your urinary system. If you develop back pain along with fever, vomiting, pain when you pee or other worrisome symptoms, see a healthcare provider right away. They can find out what’s causing your kidney pain and figure out how to treat the problem.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/31/2022.
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