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Flank Pain

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By Medicover Hospitals / 12 Jan 2021
Home | symptoms | flank-pain
  • The pain of the inside of the abdomen or the outer muscle wall, ranging from mild and temporary to severe and requiring emergency treatment. Abdominal pain can have causes that are not due to an underlying disease. Examples include constipation, wind, overeating, stress, or muscle fatigue.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is Flank Pain?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a Doctor?
    6. Prevention
    7. FAQ's

    What is Flank Pain?

  • Flank pain refers to discomfort in the upper abdomen or the back and sides. It grows in the area below the ribs and above the pelvis. The pain usually worsens on one side of the body.
  • Flank pain refers to discomfort in the upper abdomen or the back and sides. It grows in the area below the ribs and above the pelvis. The pain usually worsens on one side of the body.
  • Most people experience flank pain at least once in their lifetime, and the discomfort is usually temporary. However, constant or severe pain in the flank may indicate a serious medical condition, such as dehydration or urinary tract infection. Kidney stones or another kidney problem can also cause persistent flank pain.
  • Although flank pain is often a symptom of a kidney problem, it can also be the result of other medical conditions if it occurs with additional symptoms. It is important to see your doctor if you have chronic or severe flank pain, especially if you have other symptoms as well.
  • Causes:

  • Flank pain can be caused by one of the following causes:
    • Arthritis
    • The back problem, such as disk disease
    • Gallbladder disease
    • Gastrointestinal disease
    • Liver disease
    • Muscle spasm
    • Kidney stone, infection, or abscess
    • Shingles
    • Spinal fracture

    Diagnosis:

  • The supplier will examine you. You will be asked questions related to your medical history, symptoms, including:
    • Pain location
    • When the pain starts, if it's still there or comes and goes, if it gets worse
    • If your pain is related to activities or bending over
    • What pain looks like, such as a dull, aching, or sharp ache
    • What other symptoms do you have
  • The following tests can be performed:
    • Abdominal scanner
    • Blood tests to check renal and liver function
    • Pulmonary radiography
    • Renal or abdominal ultrasound
    • X-ray of the lumbosacral spine
    • Tests to check the renal and bladder, such as urinalysis and urine culture, or cystourethrogram

    Treatment:

  • Rest is the primary therapy for any kind of flank pain. Minor flank pain usually resolves with a combination of rest and physical therapy. Your doctor may also recommend specific exercises you can do to quickly relieve muscle spasms.
  • Treatment of flank pain due to inflammation:

    • For flank pain due to inflammation, such as that which can occur with infections and arthritis, treatment will depend on the specific condition.
    • Kidney infections may require hospitalization. Your doctor will give you antibiotics if you have a kidney infection. They may give you these antibiotics intravenously or through your veins.
    • Physical therapy and exercise programs can often treat arthritis pain in the spine. Your physician may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication, which will reduce inflammation and discomfort. In some cases, people need surgery to correct a problem with their spine.

    Treatment for kidney stones:

    • You’ll need to take pain medications and drink lots of fluids to encourage the passing of the kidney stone. In most cases, kidney stones don’t require surgery.
    • However, your doctor may perform a minor procedure called lithotripsy if larger kidney stones can’t easily exit your body during urination. Lithotripsy involves the use of high-frequency sound waves to break up kidney stones so they can pass through the ureters.
    • The ureters are the tubes that carry urine from the kidney to the bladder. Your doctor may also use other surgical techniques to remove the stones.
    • Depending on your level of pain, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription pain relief medications. You may need to stay in the hospital. Talk to your doctor if you continue to experience intense or prolonged flank pain even after treatment.

    When to visit a Doctor?

  • Call your doctor if your fever and chills do not improve after 48 hours of home care, or if you have any of the following symptoms:
    • torticollis
    • wheezing
    • severe cough
    • shortness of breath
    • confusion
    • slowness
    • irritability
    • abdominal pain
    • painful urination
    • violent vomiting
    • frequent urination or lack of urination
    • unusual sensitivity to bright light
  • Call a pediatrician if any of the following signs appear in your child:
    • Fever in a child under 3 months
    • fever in a child aged 3 to 6 months and the child is lethargic or irritable
    • a fever in a child aged 6 to 24 months that lasts more than a day
    • fever in a child aged 24 months to 17 years that lasts over three days and does not respond to treatment

    Prevention:

  • You could be able to prevent flank pain by:
    • Consume at least 8 glasses of water a day
    • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
    • Practice safe sex and hygiene
    • Eating diet foods, mainly vegetables, fruits, and lean protein
    • Exercise at least three times a week

    Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Most people experience flank pain at least once in their lifetime, and the discomfort is usually temporary. However, constant or severe pain in the flank may indicate a serious medical condition, such as dehydration or urinary tract infection. Kidney stones or another kidney problem can also cause persistent flank pain.
  • The pancreas and liver are located deep in the abdomen, just below the rib cage. Sometimes issues with these organs cause pain in the flanks. Pain may also spread to the back. As the liver and pancreas work together to help the body digest food, a problem with one organ can eventually affect the other.
  • The pain usually comes in waves. A wave can last 20 to 60 minutes and then stop. The pain stops without resuming when the ureter relaxes or the stone passes into the bladder. A kidney infection causes swelling of the kidney tissue, which stretches the kidney capsule, causing constant aching pain.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with alternating constipation and diarrhea has been associated with pain in the right flank, and unsubtyped IBS with pain in the hypogastrium. Patients with functional abdominal pain syndrome reported the right lower flank as the primary center of the pain.
  • Citations:

  • Diagnosis of acute flank pain: value of unenhanced helical CT - https://www.ajronline.org/doi/abs/10.2214/ajr.166.1.8571915
  • Acute flank pain: comparison of non-contrast-enhanced CT and intravenous urography - https://pubs.rsna.org/doi/abs/10.1148/radiology.194.3.7862980
  • Modern Approach of Diagnosis and Management of Acute Flank Pain: Review of All Imaging Modalities - https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0302283802000647