Kidney pain is something people often mistake for back pain. In some cases, it is difficult to distinguish these two. However, there is a clear difference.
For one, kidney pain is usually deeper and higher in the back located under the ribs https://health.ucsd.edu/specialties/surgery/urology/areas-expertise/kidney-stone-center/Pages/research.aspx.
Muscle pain caused by a back injury tends to be lower in the back. In most cases, kidney pain is caused by kidney stones, infections to the urinary tract, and trauma. But there are many causes you should know.
We will talk what is causing your kidney pain, and how to relieve it https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/researchers-turn-creative-approaches-battle-kidney-stones.
Table of Contents
What causes kidney pain?
The most common cause of kidney pain is kidney stones. They are solid masses of crystallized calcium or other substances that originate in the kidneys https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/143/3/240/77956.
Kidney stones can pass through the urinary tract. Stones form when there is either decrease in urine volume or an excess of stone-forming substances in the urine https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1631259.
This condition occurs when your urine cannot drain through a ureter (the tube that carries urine from the kidneys to the bladder).
Urine backs up and accumulates into the kidneys, causing them to become swollen https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK174850/. The condition can occur suddenly, be a long-term problem, affect just one, or both kidneys.
Urinary tract infections
Symptoms of urinary tract infections include blood in urine and burning sensation when urinating https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3784967/.
Women are more prone to urinary tract infections, and some even have repeat infections https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15167824.
Microbes and bacteria can cause urinary tract infections. In some rare cases, viruses can also cause UTIs, as well as fungi.
UTIs are considered the most common infections in humans https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3370320/.
The inflammation of the kidneys and the upper urinary tract can sometimes be a life-threatening infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2099993/.
In some cases, acute pyelonephritis can lead to renal scarring https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/245559-overview.
The cause of this infection is bacterial invasion, as the bacteria reach the kidney by ascending from the lower urinary tract.
Polycystic kidney disease
This is a rare cause of kidney pain, but it is worth mentioning nevertheless.
The bad news is that polycystic kidney disease is an inherited kidney disorder https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/polycystic-kidney-disease.
That means that if one of your parents had it, chances are you going to have to cope with it as well https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/10413/autosomal-dominant-polycystic-kidney-disease.
The condition caused fluid-filled cysts to form in the kidneys that may impair the function of your kidneys.
Acute unilateral obstructive uropathy
As you can see, there are a number of conditions that can affect your kidneys, not just UTIs and kidney stones.
This condition develops blockage that prevents urine from leaving one of your kidneys https://ufhealth.org/acute-unilateral-obstructive-uropathy/research-studies.
Catheter associated UTI (CAUTI)
In some cases, while hospitalized, you might develop an urinary tract infection. That is because of indwelling catheters used in hospitals.
Bladder cancer is a rare form of cancer https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/bladder-cancer/latest-research. And the bad news is scientists have yet to find an exact cause of the cancer.
But they do know that it affects the kidneys as well, and will cause pain similar by the one caused by kidney stones.
When to see a doctor?
The moment you start noticing kidney pain, you should make an appointment with your physician.
If the cause is kidney stones and urinary tract infections, your physician might recommend using natural remedies to get rid of the problem.
We will talk about the home remedies later on.
But if you experience symptoms like constant and dull pain in one side of your back or flank, body aches, fatigue, fever, and you’ve recently dealt with urinary tract infection, make an appointment.
How to relieve kidney pain
Depending on what is causing your kidney pain, there are different methods you can try for relief.
Of course ,if the cause is a serious infection, you need to check with a physician for a proper therapy. But the good news is that most of the problems causing kidney pain can be relieved with natural remedies.
Here are some ways how you can get relief of the pain.
1. Drink a lot of water
Staying hydrated prevents formation of kidney stones. And when stones are causing your pain, staying hydrated and drinking water can help you flush them out easily https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5571765/.
Water also helps you flush out bacteria that can cause urinary tract infections.
2. Drink lemon juice
All citrus fruits can help, but lemon juice has the best nutritional value for prevention and treatment of kidney pain.
Lemons contain acid that can break up and dissolve kidney stones https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2637791/.
Fresh lemon juice is much better than lemon-flavored beverages.
Drink one glass of freshly squeezed lemons in the morning when you wake up, and then two more throughout the day.
3. Celery seeds tea
There a number of tea options that help with kidney pain.
Let’s start with celery seeds. Celery is a vegetable that supports elimination of waste.
Studies have shown that celery can increase your urine output, which is another plus https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/celery-seed.
Last, but not least, celery has antifungal properties that will fight off bacteria causing UTIs.
4. Dandelion tea
Acting as a diuretic, dandelion will help you produce more urine, flushing even more toxins out of your system https://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/dandelion.
Dandelion will help with circulation as well, another benefit for the health of your kidneys.
5. Watermelon seeds tea
Watermelon also works as a diuretic in the same way as dandelion.
The bad news is you can find watermelon only during the summer months.
But once you get your hands on watermelon, do not throw away the seeds. Use them to prepare a tea.
6. Parsley tea
We all know parsley is a proven diuretic https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11849841. And in terms of pain, it can be used both topically and orally.
For kidney pain, you are better served using it orally, by brewing tea or using it in a juice.
Of course, you can always get some pain relief in a localized area by using it topically.
7. Sage or peppermint tea
We put these two together because they work in the same way.
Their role is to relax the muscles, as well as provide antiseptic properties for your body.
And because they are natural anti-inflammatory foods, a tea made from either sage or peppermint will relieve pain and spasms caused by the kidneys.
8. Marshmallow root
You’ll notice a lot of the natural remedies for kidney pain are diuretics. That is, fruits, herbs, and veggies acting as a diuretic.
You want to stay away from over the counter diuretics.
Marshmallow tea can help reduce the pain while urinating by coating the lining of the urinary tract.
9. Cabbage leaves poultice
Cabbage has long been praised as a vegetable that can help you get rid of toxins in your body.
For kidney pain, you can apply cabbage leaves to the affected area, or, you can make a poultice.
For the poultice, you’ll need some water, gauze, cabbage leaves, onions, and bran.
Chop the onions, and then put them in a bowl with water, bran, and cabbage leave.
Boil for approximately 20 minutes, or until the water evaporates completely.
Place the poultice on the gauze, and apply to the painful area.
Tomato juice is another product that is known for its ability to eliminate infection. And in the same time, tomato juice helps reduce pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3850026/.
Make sure to use natural or organic tomato juice that has no added sugars or additives.
Of course, you can always make your own tomato juice at home https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684307/.
11. Nettle tea
Nettle tea does not directly help with kidney pain. But it helps when the pain spreads from the kidneys to the joints.
Nettle can help with joint pain, and act as a diuretic in the same time.
And being that kidney pain is usually caused by inflammation, nettle tea will help with that as well.
How to prevent kidney pain
As we talked previously, in most cases, kidney pain is caused by urinary tract infections, direct trauma, kidney stones, or kidney infection.
The good news is kidney stones and UTIs can be easily prevented by making some small, but very notable changes to your lifestyle.
Of course, direct trauma is not something you can prevent.
Here are some tips for preventing kidney pain caused by stones and infections.
- Do not hold in your urine
- Take showers as opposed to baths
- Empty your bladder as soon as possible after an intercourse
- After a bowel movement, wipe front to back. This will discourage bacterial movement into the urethra
- Gently wash the skin around your vagina and anus, do not use harsh soaps
- Do not scrub vigorously the skin around the vagina and anus
- Reduce your intake of red meat
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid use of scented products near the genitals
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