A pair of kidneys is located at the posterior portion of abdomen right under the ribs. Mostly, people are unable to distinguish between back pain and kidney pain. Kidney pain is experienced in upper back and it is a sharp agonizing pain. This pain is mostly followed by urinary problems.

Kidney Pain Causes

The two most common causes of kidney pain are as follows;

  1. Kidney Stones

Kidney stones result from the accumulation of substances like uric acid, calcium, or cystine in bladder because when they are in excess they are not completely excreted from the body successfully. These stones creat hurdle in the way of smooth passage of urine from ureter thus resulting in swelling and extreme pain in the kidneys. Dehydration is one of the most common causes of kidney stones and this stones cause such a severe pain in abdomen and groin area that the sufferer can’t hold himself still.

Other Symptoms

Urinary problems like blood in urine and abnormal color of urine are common symptoms along with vomiting, nausea, and swelling on hands, feet and face.


Kidney stones can be detected through such tests as abdominal X-rays, abdominal ultrasound, abdominal CT scan, and MRI. There are a number of available options for treatment of kidney stones and it mostly depends on the size and severity of the stones. Kidney pain associated with stones can be reduced by taking following measures;

  • For stones as small as 5mm, drinking lots of water can help in their excretion.
  • Diuretics help in getting rid of stones.
  • A drug called allopurinol is good against uric acid stones.
  • For stones of larger size, there might be a need to perform Ureteroscopic surgery whereby, a long scope is inserted through urethra in the body and stone is pulled out with it.
  • Another commonly performed surgery is lithotripsy which is done by giving shock waves and hence breaking down the stones in the body which can then be easily excreted.


  • Consuming 6 to 8 glasses of water daily and increasing the use of melons and cucumbers can help reduce the risk of kidney pain caused by stones.
  • Calcium supplements should never be taken more than the prescribed amount because calcium gets accumulated to create stones and results in kidney pain.
  • To prevent the formation of uric acid stones, fish, meat and poultry should only be consumed in controlled quantities.
  1. Kidney Infections or Pyelonephritis

Pyelonephritis is a urinary tract infection (UTI) resulting from backflow of urine into ureter. This bacterial infection causes inflammation and pain in kidney. It can also be a chronic infection and those having kidney stones are at higher risk of getting this infection. It results in swelling of kidney and sharp, aching pain. The most prominent symptom is back pain.

Other Symptoms

Nocturia (frequent urination at night), painful urination and excessive urination are common urination problems observed.

Fever, chill, nausea, fatigue and vomiting are also experienced along with fatigue which leads to weight loss.


The presence of bacteria in kidney is detected through blood culture test and urine tests. The only treatment involves a strict course of antibiotics and for that matter, Amoxicillin and cephalosporin are mostly prescribed.

Renal tuberculosis, renal cancer and simple kidney cysts are the other common causes of kidney pain. Moreover, injury of kidney can also be a reason. Treatments would depend upon the symptoms and would aim at reducing the pain. Once the stones are removed or infection cured, the kidney pain would be eliminated.