Get help from best doctors, anonymously
Common Specialities
{{speciality.keyWord}}
Common Issues
{{issue.keyWord}}
Common Treatments
{{treatment.keyWord}}

Flank Pain - 3 Common Causes You Must Know!

Dr. Kuldip Singh 93% (199 ratings)
Fellowship of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS), MS, MBBS
Urologist, Delhi  •  46 years experience
Flank Pain - 3 Common Causes You Must Know!

Pain on the sides of the abdomen between the ribs and the hips is also known as flank pain. A patient may experience flank pain only on one side or on both sides simultaneously. In most cases, the pain is more pronounced on one side of the body. Flank pain can usually be attributed to conditions affecting the kidneys. The two most common such conditions include:

  1. Urinary Tract Infections (UTI): When bacteria enter the urinary tract, it can cause an infection. This can be limited to the urethra or travel inwards to the bladder and kidneys. Pain in the lower flank is typically a sign of a UTI affecting the bladder while pain in the upper flank is a sign of an upper UTI. This may be accompanied by an increased urge to urinate frequently, blood in the urine or a burning sensation while urinating. UTIs can be treated with oral antibiotics but in case of recurrent UTIs, the patient must consult an urologist.
  2. Kidney StonesKidney stones can be described as crystal deposits that are formed by highly concentrated urine. The size of these crystal deposits can range from being small enough to pass through the urethra to being the size of a gold ball. Large kidney stones can be very painful. Flank pain caused by kidney stones comes and goes. The location of this pain depends on the position of the stone and hence can move through the abdomen. Drinking plenty of water can help a kidney stone move out of the body. In cases of larger stones, a surgical procedure may be needed to break the stone down into small pieces.

Another common cause of flank pain is a musculoskeletal problem. This could be in the form of a muscle tear or sprain. Lifting heavy weights, repetitive actions and a fall or trauma are common triggers for such problems. This type of pain usually worsens with any activity or action that uses these muscles. Even sneezing may aggravate this type of pain. Flank pain in the case of musculoskeletal problems usually feels like a dull ache. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and an ice pack are usually very beneficial in handling this type of flank pain.

Sometimes, flank pain can be a symptom of a much bigger problem. For example, it could be a symptom of kidney cancer, gallbladder disease, appendicitis or a blockage in the urinary tract. Hence, if this pain continues for a long time, you must consult a doctor.

2 people found this helpful