Flank pain affects the area on either side of the lower back, between the pelvis and the ribs. Pain in the flanks can result from several conditions, diseases and injuries. Kidney stones, infection and muscle strains are common causes of flank pain. Depending on the cause, treatment for flank pain may include rest, pain medication and antibiotics.
The flank is the area on the sides and back of your abdomen, between your lower ribs and your hips. Pain in this area is called flank pain. Several injuries, diseases and infections can cause pain in the flanks.
Flank pain can range from mild to severe. The pain can be sharp or a dull ache, and it may come and go. It’s usually worse on one side, but it can occur on both flanks.
Problems in the kidney (such as an infection or a kidney stone) are common causes of flank pain. Back injuries also cause pain that starts in the spine and travels to the flanks. Healthcare providers treat the condition that’s causing flank pain. Treatments include rest and medication.
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Flank pain is very common. Nearly everyone gets flank pain at some point.
Kidney stones are one of the most common causes of flank pain. Every year in the United States, more than half a million people receive treatment for kidney stones. One in 10 people will get a kidney stone during their lifetime.
Pain in the flanks can result from several injuries, conditions and diseases. The most common causes of flank pain include:
Your provider will examine you and gently feel the sensitive area. They will ask you where you feel pain and if it gets better or worse with certain activities. Tell them about any symptoms you’re having in addition to flank pain.
Your provider may order several tests to look for signs of kidney stones, infection, injuries or disease. These tests include:
Treatments depend on what’s causing flank pain. Depending on the cause, your provider may recommend:
You may not always be able to prevent flank pain. But you can reduce your risk of kidney problems, injuries and disease by maintaining good health. You should:
Call your healthcare provider if flank pain:
Flank pain that occurs along with other symptoms could be a sign of a serious health problem. Call your provider right away if you have flank pain and:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Flank pain is a symptom of several conditions and injuries. Rest, medications and other treatments can relieve pain and help you feel better. Call your provider if you have severe flank pain or it doesn’t get better in about a day. You should see your provider right away if you also have other symptoms, such as a fever or chills. These could be signs of a serious condition. By drinking plenty of water and maintaining a weight that's healthy for you, you can lower your risk of conditions that lead to flank pain.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/14/2021.
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