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Flank Pain


Flank (Side) pain is defined as discomfort in either side of the abdomen, between the lower ribs and pelvis. The discomfort is usually worse on one side of your body than the other. These regions constitute the flank area. A variety of illnesses, disorders, and accidents may cause flank pain. Infection, kidney stones, or muscle strains are common causes of left flank pain. Rest, pain medication and antibiotics may be used to treat flank pain depending on the cause.

Most people will have some degree of flank pain at some time in their life, and it will nearly always be minor. While minor flank pain is not dangerous, persistent or severe flank pain may signal a significant medical issue such as dehydration or a urinary tract infection. Kidney stones or any kind of renal illness may cause persistent right flank pain.

Flank pain may range in intensity from mild to severe. This kind of pain may be severe or little, and it can occur at any moment. It often affects just one side of the body, but both sides may be affected at the same time. Renal problems are one of the most common causes of flank pain. Back pain may also cause flank pain, which starts in the spine and spreads outward.

Your healthcare provider will examine by gently touching his or her fingers on the sensitive area. They will want to know where you’re experiencing discomfort and if it improves or worsens with particular activities. A variety of tests may be ordered by your doctor to search for signs of kidney stones, infection, damage, or sickness.


There are a variety of causes of flank pain – Listed below are some of them:

Kidney Problems:
Numerous urinary tract infections i.e. UTIs, including kidney as well as bladder infections, may cause severe flank pain. Fever, chills, bloating, vomiting, and blood in the urine, among other symptoms, are all frequent indications of infection and urethral blockages (such as kidney stones). Dehydration may induce urinary tract problems, which can cause flank pain.

Back Problems:
Lower back pain may be caused by a variety of illnesses, including arthritis, fractures, and anatomical abnormalities of the spine. A herniated disc, degenerative disc or pinched nerve degeneration may all cause flank discomfort. Muscle spasms in the flank or lower back are common after a severe strain.

Disease Conditions:
Gallbladder disease, kidney malignancy, liver disease, and certain gastrointestinal diseases may also produce flank pain. The most frequent cause of flank discomfort is gallbladder disease. Pain in the flanks may be an indication of renal artery disease, which develops when blood flow to the kidneys is obstructed.

Musculoskeletal Issues:
Flank pain can sometimes arise from muscle strains, injuries, or inflammation in the muscles and soft tissues surrounding the flank area.

Other Causes:
There are additional potential causes of flank pain, including hernias, spinal issues, pancreatitis, and certain vascular conditions.

Pain on both sides of the lower abdomen may be caused due to aneurysm. The lower aorta i.e. the major blood artery that transports blood out from the heart has the ability to expand and widen. If it gets to a particular size, it may explode. An aortic aneurysm in the abdomen causes pain and discomfort in the flank area.


A kidney stone, a urinary tract infection, or a back strain are all possible reasons for flank pain. Flank pain may resolve on its own. However, additional symptoms such as fever, nausea and vomiting, urinary issues, worsening discomfort, and disorientation should not be ignored. These could be flank pain symptoms of a more severe condition.


The primary flank pain treatment is rest. Minor flank pain usually goes away with rest and physical therapy. Your doctor may also recommend particular exercises to help you relieve muscle spasms rapidly.

  • Treatment for flank pain caused by inflammation, such as that caused by infections and arthritis, will depend on the exact situation. 
  • Kidney infections can necessitate hospitalization. If you have a kidney infection, your doctor will prescribe antibiotics. These antibiotics may be administered intravenously or through your veins. 
  • Physical therapy and exercise programs are frequently used to address back flank pain caused by arthritis. Your doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help with inflammation and pain. In some circumstances, surgery is required to treat a spinal issue.


Aortic dissection and aneurysms are medical emergencies that must be treated right away. Your healthcare practitioner will begin with a physical exam and stethoscope, listening to your heart.

Among the flank pain diagnostic tests available are:

  • Aortic angiography: A test that visualizes blood flow in the body.
  • Chest X-ray. 
  • Chest computed tomography (CT scan).
  • Echocardiogram: An ultrasound examination of the heart 
  • Blood tests to rule out a heart attack2

When To See A Doctor

If you are suffering flank discomfort, make an appointment with your doctor. It is crucial to see a doctor if it does not disappear within a day, or if it vanishes and then reappears. If you have flank discomfort in addition to other symptoms, this may indicate a more severe health issue.

If you have flank discomfort with the following symptoms, contact your doctor right away:

  • Blood in urine, or pain while peeing
  • Diarrhea, constipation, and bloating
  • Fever, chills, and dizziness
  • Urinary incontinence i.e. the inability to urinate on a regular basis
  • Headaches
  • Constipation and nausea
  • Rash


This blog is for informational & educational purposes only and does not intend to substitute any professional medical advice or consultation. For any symptoms or medical advice, please consult with your primary care physician, call 911, or Book an appointment with our board-certified doctors at Manhattan Medical Arts.