Kidney Pain 

image001Kidneys are considered as one of the highly metabolic organs of the body that are responsible for purification of blood and removal of toxic waste products from the body via urine. Any alteration in the anatomical or physiological functioning of the kidneys (or anywhere in the urinary system) may present with kidney pain and discomfort involving the lumbar and pelvic region. In order to manage the symptoms of kidney pain and associated urinary issues, it is very important to learn the most common renal pathologies.

Causes of Kidney Pain

Most cases of kidney pain are associated with urinary complaints like burning urination, bleeding in urine (passage of red urine), retention of urine or passage of inadequate quantities that may lead to build up of toxins in the system. Other notable symptoms that include a systemic disease include fever with rigors and chills suggesting a possible infection, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, foul smelling urine, swelling of face, hands or feet or generalized swelling.



Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are produced as a result of prolonged dehydration or excretion of too much salts leading to kidney stones that may get impacted in one of the ureters leading to pain, discomfort or inflammation. Sometimes stones grow bigger in size and erode into the lining of kidneys leading to inflammation and infection of kidney.

Kidney Infection

Kidney tissue may get infected as a result of ascending infection (from urethra or ureter to involve renal tissue) or in the setting of systemic infections that may involve kidneys via blood stream. Fever with rigors and chills is a significant symptom of most infections involving kidneys.

Kidney Cancer

Kidney cancer refers to a growth within the substance of kidneys characterized by stretching of renal capsule producing symptoms of pain and discomfort.

Polycystic Kidney

Polycystic kidney disease (characterized by formation of multiple cysts within the kidney substance) may be an acquired condition or a hereditary situation that is marked by progressive deterioration of renal functioning ultimately leading to renal failure.


With advancing age or in the setting of some medical conditions, blood vessels tend to get thicker and thereby become less capable of transferring blood to the periphery. Since kidney requires a steady blood supply, any discrepancy in oxygen delivery may produce pain and discomfort.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

The entire urinary system (that consists of urinary bladder, urethra, ureters and kidneys) is sterile, suggesting that no bacteria or viral agent can access these tissues. However, when a pathogenic agent gains access to the urinary system, kidney pain and symptoms of infection are observed (including painful urination, fever and foul smelling urine).

Remedies for Kidney Pain

In the absence of any gross abnormality or pathology, simple home remedies may help tremendously in improving the kidney pain symptoms.

1. Home Remedies

  • Change the Diet. Diet modification helps in alleviating the symptoms of pain by controlling infection and the disease process. Increase your water intake (clear fluid) and decrease the consumption of foods that may lead to production of stones. This includes turnip, cauliflower, chick pea and carrots (leading to formation of calcium oxalate crystals).
  • Stay Hydrated. Besides increasing water intake, consume fresh fruits and vegetables that are inherently rich in water content. This includes lettuce, salads, grape fruit, grapes and watermelon.
  • Eat Foods Rich in Amino Acids. Consumption of egg whites is helpful in supplying essential amino acids that remodel renal tissue and alleviate pain and discomfort. Amino acid supplementation can also be employed.
  • Try Herbal Remedies. Consumption of herbal tea and supplements alleviate infection and promote blood supply to kidneys that helps in excretion of toxins. Notable herbs in this regard are gravel root, parsley and oak bark.
  • Apply Aromatherapy. Aromatherapy with natural herbs like sandalwood, thyme, eucalyptus oil or juniper are soothing and helps in relieving severe pain and discomfort associated with chronic kidney issues.
  • Cut Down Alcohol. Long term alcohol consumption is associated with permanent changes in the kidney and metabolic system. Moreover, if you are suffering from kidney related issues, it is suggested to limit the intake since alcohol aggravates kidney pain by increasing urinary output, affecting the release of anti-diuretic hormone. Lastly, alcohol promotes weight gain, abnormal blood cholesterol levels, impaired liver functioning (and resulting higher level of toxins in blood) and hypertension leading to deterioration of renal functioning.
  • Massage the Flank Area. Flank massage promotes blood flow to the region and induces a soothing sensation. Warm compresses or warm water bottle also help (by warming the injured tissues). Enhanced blood flow as a result of warmth promote remodeling of renal tissues and help in alleviating discomforting symptoms.
  • Eat Pain Relief Foods. Any food that is high in water content is helpful in alleviating kidney pain and infection symptoms. Common relief foods are cranberries and all other berries (that act as anti-oxidants and ward off free radicals). Water melon, grapes and other water containing fruits and vegetables also alleviate pain by easing out the flow of urine and decreasing the production of inflammatory mediators.

2. Medical Treatment

A number of medical as well as surgical and interventive treatments are available to manage kidney pain. A few are listed below:

  • Over the counter pain killers are generally not effective especially when the kidney pain is due to renal stones or severe infection. Narcotics or prescription pain killers are generally needed to manage pain.
  • In case of bacterial infection, antibiotics are generally needed to control the symptoms and prevent complications.
  • Dialysis is generally indicated in case of impending renal failure.
  • For larger stones and recurrent bouts of infection and pain, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy is generally indicated.

When to See a Doctor

Kidneys are highly active organs that require immediate attention in case of any serious medical or surgical condition. Immediately report to your healthcare provider if:

  • You have constant dull pain/ severe nagging pain for more than 2 days in the kidneys (or lumbar region).
  • High grade fever with rigors and chills
  • In the setting of recent urinary tract infection.