Kidneys are organs of the body that are shaped like beans and are almost the size of the fist. There are two kidneys in the body that can be found on the left and right side of the body. These are essential organs of the body that have essential functions such as balancing the fluids of the body making sure that the body is well hydrated; extracting harmful substances, toxins, and wastes from the blood; producing urine; and help in other important body functions.
Where are Kidneys Located?
The kidneys are located below the lower ribs in the back of the abdomen under the liver, one on each side of the spine. The biggest part of the liver can be found on the right side of the abdomen which explains why the left kidney is a little higher than the right kidney.
Pain that is experienced or felt in the upper abdomen or at the sides and back is also known as kidney pain or flank pain. Most issues and disorders that involve the kidney cause middle back or flank pain. The most common cause of kidney pain is kidney stones.
The kidney pain brought about by kidney stones is usually felt in the middle back.
Kidney pain or back pain may be a little bit challenging to distinguish because of the area in the back where it is felt but the accompanying symptoms and the characteristics of the pain will tell the difference. Kidney pain, as compared to the back pain, is constant and does not get better even with a movement of position or a massage in the area.
The Kidneys Functions
The kidneys are connected with the urinary tract as they are part of the urinary system. The kidneys are responsible for filtering the waste and toxins from the blood, balancing body fluids and getting rid of excess fluids, and producing urine. Urine is produced by the kidneys and goes through the urinary tract and into the bladder. The wastes and toxins are flushed out of the body as one pee.
The kidneys also contribute to keeping the blood healthy. Some of the other functions of kidneys help keep the blood healthy. Kidneys:
- Regulate blood pressure
- Remove harmful wastes and substances from the blood
- Produce erythropoietin (EPO) that is a hormone required for producing red blood cells
- Keep a balance of electrolytes in the blood
People often associate the pain, discomfort, or ache felt in the area between the hips and ribs as back pain caused by muscle-related problems or digestive problems. Although kidney pain is caused by disorders, infections, or problems in the kidney, the pain is not always felt or experienced in the same area as the kidney’s location.
Kidney pain, flank pain, or renal pain may be felt anywhere between the lower rib cage and the buttocks. Kidney pain has also a possibility to extend to the abdominal area or to the groin. The pain can also be felt on just one side of the back, either the left or the right. Sometimes, the pain can be felt on both sides of the middle back. The area where the kidney pain is felt usually depends on its underlying cause.
Some muscular-related issues or other disorders can resemble kidney pain. One way to distinguish kidney pain that is a result of kidney problems, disorders, or infections is to check for the accompanying symptoms shown by the individual that might be related to kidney problems such as fever, chills, vomiting, nausea, and changes felt when urinating.
One can tell the difference between back pain and kidney pain by trying to move the muscles in the back. Back pain increases or decreases when there is a movement in the position, when trying to move the muscles in the back, or when massaging the area where the pain is felt. Kidney pain caused by kidney problems are usually sharp and come in painful waves. There is a more constant pain felt in the back for kidney pain.
Generally, kidney or flank pain has a pain sensation that is deeper and is usually felt in the higher portion of the back right under the ribcage. Back pain caused by muscular-related problems is usually felt in the lower portion of the back.
Associated Symptoms and Signs of Kidney Pain
As mentioned earlier, one way to distinguish kidney pain from back pain is to check for the symptoms that are associated with kidney pain. Aside from the pain, ache or discomfort felt in the abdomen, middle back, groin area, or the sides of the body, kidney pain reveals other symptoms. These additional symptoms are:
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Increase in the urge to urinate
- Burning sensation felt when peeing
- Difficulties in peeing
- Urine that has strong odor
- Change in the color of urine – usually darker in color (dark yellow, brown, or red)
- Small amounts of urination
- Increase in the frequency of urination
- Lack of energy
- Getting tired easily
- Difficulty in focusing
These associated symptoms of kidney pain may vary because they depend on the underlying cause.