Back pain is a common complaint, particularly as people get older. While this can often be chalked up to muscle injury or stress, persistent lower back pain or flank pain can be a symptom of serious kidney disease. The quality of the pain is often an important clue to different types of kidney disease. It is important not to self-diagnose and to get to a doctor if back pain is persistent.
Types of Pain And Symptoms
Flank pain can be sudden and stabbing, or dull and achy. It can remain
localized in one spot or seem to move to different regions on your lower back
This pain can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as frequent and
painful urination, fever, nausea, and fatigue.
Be prepared to carefully define the problem for your doctor because the type
of pain and the presence of additional symptoms are important clues to
Kidney or urethral stones are one of the most common causes of flank pain,
according to Medline Plus. This pain is often very sharp and acute. It is so
severe that drug addicts often claim a history of stones when attempting to get
drugs from medical providers . The pain itself may migrate as the stone works
its way through the ureters, becoming more and more painful the further the
stone is from the bladder.
Other than pain, passing of stones can be uneventful. However, chronic
obstructions can cause irreversible damage. It is important to contact a doctor
whenever you experience this type of pain.
Dull pain is more often associated with moderately advanced chronic kidney
disease. Such diseases include diabetic nephropathy, IgA nephropathy, FSGS,
renal dysplasia, or any of the many diseases that cause scarring of the tiny
kidney filters called glomeruli.
According to the National Kidney Foundation , although flank pain is uncommon
in the early stages, it often appears in later stages of disease. The exact
cause of this pain is unknown.
Dull, achey pain can also be associated with urinary tract infections or
UTIs. The urinary tract includes the bladder, the ureters and the kidneys. If
the infection is localized in the kidneys, the infection is called
pyelonephritis. This requires prompt treatment to prevent permanent kidney
Other symptoms that are common to UTIs are painful urination, fever and
Back pain can also be indicative of kidney tumors. According to Anton J.
Bueschen, author of the chapter on flank pain appearing in the volume "Clinical
Methods", pain "is not the most common presenting symptom, and when pain is
present, it often is associated with other symptoms." Usually this type of pain
accompanies advanced tumors.