Anyone who has ever had kidney pain will be able to confirm what an uncomfortable feeling it is. The pain is often misjudged and not properly perceived, which can lead to serious consequences.
In our guide, we will help you to recognize kidney pain and distinguish it from other types of pain. We will also explain the causes and symptoms of kidney pain and introduce you to the best remedies.
the essentials in brief
- Staying hydrated and eating a healthy diet can help prevent kidney pain
- Because women's urethras are shorter than men's, they are more prone to inflammation, which then leads to kidney pain
- Doctors recognize kidney pain primarily because it radiates to the back and flanks of the body
Definition: what is kidney pain?
In medical jargon, kidney pain is also referred to as nephralgia, flank pain, renal pain or nephrogenic pain (“nephros” is Greek and means kidney). This refers to pain that emanates directly from the kidneys. Kidney pain is a sign of a disease based on existing disorders. Kidney pain is usually perceived as a dull, colicky stinging (1).
Background: What you should know about the reasons for kidney pain
A sharp pain shoots through your lower back and your hand moves reflexively towards your kidneys. Sometimes it's electrifying, then oppressive again. If this scenario sounds familiar to you, you are probably suffering from kidney pain. Numerous causes can lead to the otherwise normal kidneys or the area surrounding the tissues beginning to cause pain.
A doctor can determine the exact trigger. But you can do a lot to alleviate or even prevent it. We will first give you an overview of how kidney pain can occur and what diseases can be behind it.
What are the symptoms of kidney pain?
Before the actual kidney pain, you may have had to urinate either very rarely or very frequently. If the urine foams or is bloody, this is also a strong sign of kidney problems. If these problems occur, it is definitely advisable to consult a family doctor.
Kidney pain can be a real pain, but it's important to know exactly where the pain is coming from. (Image source: Andrea Piacquadio/pexels)
When you have kidney pain, you will often experience other symptoms as well. This includes, among other things:
- severe headache
- severe fatigue
Kidney pain and edema are both symptoms of something wrong with the kidneys. Then water retention can occur. Edema can be detected by pressing on suspicious parts of the body. Edema can be detected by indenting suspicious parts of the body. If you press on the spot and there is an accumulation of water, the skin does not stretch but remains pressed in (2).
What is the cause of kidney pain?
Due to the anatomical conditions, kidney pain is not always directly related to the kidney. The urinary tract or the muscles in the kidney area can also cause pain. Kidney pain can be attributed to a wide variety of causes.
Inflammation of the renal pelvis
If there is inflammation, the cause is always bacterial contamination of the area. This activates the body's defense systems and causes inflammation. They activate the body's defense system, which can result in inflammation. You may find the inflammation very painful, but the pain may not appear until much of the tissue has been affected (3).
In most cases, the cause of pelvic inflammatory disease is an ascending infection. The focus of infection is in the bladder. As a rule, women are more prone to such inflammation, since their urethra is five times shorter than that of a measure at 2.5 to 4 cm and therefore germs can penetrate more easily.
There are many ways to catch an infection. Visiting an unhygienic toilet can cause an infection, or germs can penetrate during sexual intercourse. Even during pregnancy, these inflammations are not unusual. In addition, one must note that hygiene in the intimate area is often carried out too intensively, and thus the body's own protective film in the intimate area is destroyed. This makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate.
Has there ever been a case of kidney cancer in your family? Then you should go to regular check-ups. Heredity plays a crucial role in kidney cancer. But obesity, smoking and a poor diet are also risks that can promote the development of cancer. In particular, when the body cells are exposed to a large number of pollutants, they are more susceptible.
Like all other organs, the kidneys must be supplied with sufficient blood to be able to function to their full potential. Thus, there are many blood vessels in the kidneys and thrombosis and embolism can lead to occlusion of the vessels. This stops or impairs the work of the kidney. In this context, smokers and overweight people represent a high-risk group. If the occlusion of the vessels is not detected early, the function of the kidneys can be lost completely
Kidney pain can also be caused by urinary retention. If you already have voiding disorders or a neurological condition, it is possible for urine to flow back from the bladder into the kidneys. The pain is then triggered on the one hand by the congestion and on the other hand the bacteria can be transported more easily and kidney inflammation can occur.
Stones in the kidneys can also cause pain. If there is too much potassium, sodium or magnesium in the body, these can crystallize in the urine. The body absorbs all the necessary minerals . Anything else can form into large crystals and develop into stones. Dehydration or urinary retention can lead to this formation. Since the stones cannot be excreted via the urinary tract and obstruct the outflow of urine, the resulting pressure causes pain (6,7).
Other organic causes
During pregnancy, the phenomenon that pain occurs that is not necessarily related to a disease is often evident. Depending on the attitude of the mother-to-be and the position of the child, experiences of pain are not uncommon.
In connection with stress, muscle tension and incorrect strain on the body can always occur. If kidney pain occurs in connection with physical and psychological stress, the cause does not necessarily have to be an illness. In this case, the pain can occur due to strained muscles and fascia in the kidney area.
How do I recognize kidney pain?
When you visit a doctor, your medical history will be examined (anamnesis) to determine the kidney pain. The doctor can then draw conclusions from the patient's description of the severity of the pain and the question of side effects such as vomiting and flatulence. Your posture is also crucial for the doctor and gives clues to the origin of the pain.
With kidney pain, the patient is often not in a bent posture. A simple test of slapping the edge of the hand against the iliac crest can reveal this. The blow increases the kidney pain three fingers above the iliac crest (3).
How do you differentiate kidney pain from back pain?
It is not always easy to tell kidney pain and back pain apart. Kidney pain is usually felt on the left and right of the spine. Most patients feel pain from the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae up to the eleventh and twelfth thoracic vertebrae. The kidneys are located exactly between the third and fourth lumbar vertebrae (4).
A simple test to determine pain is a hand slap against the iliac crest.
The pain in the kidney can also radiate to other regions of the body. The back is particularly important here. These two pains are often confused with each other, although the pain in the kidneys is rather dull and inconsistent. Unlike back pain, it is not related to movement and does not occur all the time.
How can I prevent kidney pain?
In order to prevent kidney pain from occurring in the first place, one should try to take precautionary measures as far as possible. The kidneys are very sensitive to cold. Make sure your kidneys are always kept warm. Even if a short dress looks chic in winter, you shouldn't put style ahead of your health. It is very similar with drinking and the kidneys. Already a well-known wisdom says that the kidneys must be "flushed". And it really is.
However, you should keep in mind that alcoholic beverages are not doing the kidneys any favors.
Kidneys need soft drinks and ideally still water. Especially if you have a previous kidney disease or have had kidney problems in the past, a sufficient intake of liquid is of great importance. According to recommendations, you should drink two to three liters of liquid. You should also avoid over-seasoning your food with salt, since the salt is excreted through the kidneys and puts an extra strain on the organ (3).
Kidney pain: The best tips & tricks against kidney pain
But if you are already beyond prevention and are already struggling with kidney pain, then we will now show you the best home remedies and alternative treatment methods for kidney pain.
Home remedies for kidney pain
Contrary to conventional medical forms of therapy, more and more home remedies are being used for kidney pain. The advantage of home remedies is obvious, they are inexpensive, readily available and free from side effects. Especially when kidney pain occurs unexpectedly and is acute, these measures will help at least until you see a doctor:
- take a warm bath
- drink a lot
- put on a grain cushion of about 100 °C
- Make wraps from flaxseed
- position a moist moor pillow heated to 55 °C in the kidney area
- Cabbage wrap made from boiled, chopped cabbage leaves
- Lemon juice to dissolve kidney stones
- Put on a hot-water bottle, heat lamp or electric blanket
A simple procedure to alleviate kidney pain and to bridge waiting times is a special positioning. The patient lies on their back and their lower legs are elevated on a pillow.
Since the kidneys are very sensitive to cold, a heat lamp is perfect for relieving the pain. (Image source: Ismsevilla/pixabay)
Even with the alternative treatment methods, there are remedies that help against kidney pain. On the one hand, the external forms of treatment, such as putting mustard plasters on kidney pain, rubbing in pain-relieving ointments or gels or foot baths with lavender added.
Alternative medicine should always be used as a support.
For internal use, you can eat parsley or drink an infusion that is diuretic and anti-inflammatory, drink teas made from herbs such as nettle and sage, or follow a diet that cuts out a lot of salt and reduces protein and sugar.
Essential oils and aromatherapy can be used to support kidney activity. The oils can be used to rub the body, add to a bath, or inhale. Oils that have proven particularly effective in supporting kidney function include lemon, geranium, grapefruit, and juniper. The oils can either be inhaled several times a day or applied to the kidney area together with olive oil.
plants and herbs
It should be noted here that alternative healing methods with medicinal plants and herbs for kidney pain should only play a supplementary role alongside conventional medical treatment. You should always do this in consultation with your doctor, otherwise serious complications could follow. Plants and herbs can be particularly helpful in the case of inflammatory diseases of the urinary tract and kidneys (5).
|Inflammatory kidney disease||Kidney stones|
|sour thorn Parsely couch grass rootstock horsetail Verbena birch leaves nettle goldenrod||Verbena broom woodruff meadowsweet hogweed|
The herbs and plants listed here can be taken as a tea for internal treatment, for example. But decoctions made from plants such as celery or dandelion are also possible.
Diet & Nutrition
A healthy and balanced diet plays a crucial role in kidney problems. As mentioned before, the symptoms can be prevented with the right diet. But even if you are already ill and have had kidney problems, nutrition is essential (6). Depending on the cause of the pain, there are other things to consider, such as:
- Refrain from greasy foods
- reduce sugar content
- reduce salt content
- Eat foods low in protein
An adapted diet that reduces salt, fat, sugar and protein can lead to healthy kidney function.
Kidney pain can have many causes, ranging from serious illnesses to muscle tension or pregnancy. You should keep an eye on the symptoms and, depending on the duration and severity of the pain and other side effects, you should always consult a doctor.
With home remedies and alternative treatment methods, acute pain can be alleviated or pain prevented. But here, too, home remedies and alternative methods should always only support conventional medical treatment and always take place in consultation with the doctor treating you.
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