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Flank pain

Pain - side; Side pain

Flank pain is pain in one side of the body between the upper belly area (abdomen) and the back.

Images

Anatomical landmarks, back view
Anatomical landmarks, front view
Anatomical landmarks, side view

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Considerations

Flank pain can be a sign of a kidney problem. But, since many organs are in this area, other causes are possible. If you have flank pain and fever, chills, blood in the urine, or frequent or urgent urination, then a kidney problem is the likely cause. It could be a sign of kidney stones.

Causes

Flank pain may be caused by any of the following:

Home Care

Treatment depends on the cause.

Rest, physical therapy, and exercise may be recommended if the pain is caused by muscle spasm. You will be taught how to do these exercises at home.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy may be prescribed for flank pain caused by spinal arthritis.

Antibiotics are used to treat most kidney infections. You will also receive fluids and pain medicine. You may need to stay in the hospital.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your health care provider if you have any of the following:

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will examine you. You will be asked about your medical history and symptoms, including:

The following tests may be done:

Related Information

Fever
Kidney stones

References

Landry DW, Bazari H. Approach to the patient with renal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 114.

McQuaid KR. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 132.

Millham FH. Acute abdominal pain. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 11.

Seller RH, Symons AB. Abdominal pain in adults. In: Seller RH, Symons AB, eds. Differential Diagnosis of Common Complaints. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 1.

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Review Date: 3/12/2019  

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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