What causes severe pain in the lower left back

Kidney pain

Brief overview

  • description: Kidney pain is stabbing or dull pain that is independent of movement, to the side of the vertebral column in the lower back, possibly spreading to the lower abdomen and groin.
  • causes: Inflammation of the renal pelvis (pyelonephritis), kidney stones, glomerulonephritis (inflammation of the kidney corpuscles), kidney tumor, cyst kidney, acute or chronic kidney failure (acute or chronic kidney failure)
  • When to the doctor Always have kidney pain clarified by a doctor. Untreated kidney diseases can lead to permanent kidney damage and secondary diseases such as edema, high blood pressure and anemia.
  • Diagnosis: Physical examination, blood and urine samples, imaging procedures such as ultrasound (sonography), computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance tomography (magnetic resonance tomography, MRI).
  • treatment: Depending on the cause, e.g. shock wave lithotripsy for kidney stones, antibiotics for inflammation, blood washing (dialysis) or kidney transplantation for kidney failure. Self-treatment for acute kidney pain (until you can reach a doctor) in the form of warmth and hydration.
  • prevention: Kidney stones can be prevented with a low-salt diet and with 2-3 liters of fluids per day.

Kidney pain: description

The kidneys are embedded in protective fat capsules to the right and left of the spine, approximately at the level of the two lowest ribs. On top of each kidney is a hormone-producing adrenal gland. Because of the close proximity of the kidneys to the spine, there will be kidney pain often confused with back pain. The discomfort manifests itself as flank pain or pain in the lower back. In addition, there are usually painful complaints in the lower abdomen.

This is where the kidneys are located:

What are the kidneys doing?

The kidneys filter the blood: Millions of tiny, sieve-like vessels (kidney corpuscles, glomeruli) extract excess fluid, salts and toxins from the body's juice. The filtered substances enter the urinary bladder via the renal pelvis and ureter. Around 180 liters of fluid are filtered out every day. Around 1.5 liters of this so-called primary urine remain and are excreted as urine.

But the kidneys not only regulate the water and salt balance, they also produce and activate important hormones: the so-called renin is involved in regulating blood pressure, while erythropoietin promotes the formation of new red blood cells in the bone marrow.

Kidney pain: causes

Kidney pain is mostly based on inflammation caused by kidney stones or ascending bladder infections. Women are affected far more often than men because of their shorter urinary tract.

The main causes of kidney pain are:

  • Pelvic inflammation: This so-called pyelonephritis usually occurs when bacteria rise into the kidneys as a result of a bladder infection. Typical symptoms are severe, sudden flank pain, fever, chills, vomiting and abdominal cramps, blood in the urine and frequent urination.
  • Kidney stones: They are formed from the salt deposits in the urine. If they slide from the renal pelvis through the narrow urinary tract to the bladder or even clog the ureters (urine congestion!), Severe, cramp-like pain can occur. Men are significantly more likely to develop kidney stones than women.
  • Inflammation of the kidney corpuscles: The kidney corpuscles (glomeruli) can become inflamed as a result of autoimmune diseases or medication. This glomerulonephritis can lead to kidney failure. Typical signs are blood in the urine, frequent urination and protein in the urine.
  • Kidney tumor: At an advanced stage, a kidney tumor can cause severe kidney pain. Other symptoms include blood in the urine and a palpable swelling.
  • Cystic kidneys: Mostly hereditary disease in which numerous fluid-filled cavities (cysts) form in the kidneys. This is often associated with flank pain, frequent urinary tract infections and high blood pressure. In the long term, a cyst kidney can lead to kidney failure.

In addition, the following ailments and diseases can be associated with kidney pain:

  • Chronic kidney failure: The kidneys slowly lose their ability to function, for example as a result of diabetes mellitus (diabetes), high blood pressure, untreated kidney stones, cystic kidneys or medication. The first possible warning signs include mild high blood pressure, foamy or red urine, and water retention in the legs. Later signs are increased infections, anemia, decreased performance and pale skin. However, kidney failure can also be completely symptom-free.
  • Acute kidney failure: The kidneys can lose their functionality within a short time due to vascular occlusions, burns or large blood loss, medication or kidney stones. The symptoms are not always clear. However, if acute kidney failure is not treated immediately, there is a risk to life!
  • Menstrual pain: Some women have period pain before or during their period, which can manifest itself as (supposed) kidney pain, among other things.

Consequences of kidney dysfunction

If the kidneys do not work properly, there is a risk of secondary diseases:

  • Water retention in the tissue (edema): When the kidneys are weak, the tissue increasingly stores water. Water retention in the legs is typical.
  • high blood pressure: The blood pressure regulating hormone renin is produced in the kidneys. An insufficient supply of the kidneys with oxygen therefore leads to high blood pressure. A narrowing of the renal artery (renal artery stenosis) is usually responsible for this.
  • Anemia: In chronic kidney failure, the kidneys release less of the hormone erythropoietin, which stimulates the production of red blood cells. The result is anemia.

Diseases with this symptom

Find out here about the diseases that can cause the symptom:

Kidney pain: symptoms

Kidney pain can be recognized by the fact that, unlike back pain, it is not dependent on movement. In addition, they are usually not persistent, but occur in a cramp-like manner. They spread laterally along the spine to the lower abdomen and the groin - on one side if only one kidney is damaged or sick, and on both sides if both kidneys are affected.

Kidney pain: when do you need to see a doctor?

Kidney pain should always be clarified by a doctor, unless it is due to menstrual cramps or harmless kidney stones. Because bacterial infections that have risen from the urinary tract or the bladder and cause kidney inflammation cannot be brought under control with home remedies alone. In the worst case, the symptoms are alleviated, but the pathogen is not eliminated and the foundation for chronic kidney disease is laid.

Kidney pain often only occurs when the kidney is already damaged. To prevent worse damage, you should therefore always consult a doctor in the event of pain in the kidney area.

A doctor's visit is particularly urgent if:

  • the kidney pain persists for several days
  • the urine is red in color (hematuria)
  • Fever, chills, and spasmodic kidney pain occur together
  • Vomiting and diarrhea are added
  • no more urine is produced (lack of urge to urinate), or the urine can no longer be excreted (urinary retention)
  • the heartbeat slows down, dizziness and loss of consciousness occur
  • water collects in the legs or other parts of the body

Kidney pain: that's what the doctor does

Kidney pain does not go away on its own. Only when a kidney stone passes can the colic-like symptoms subside spontaneously as soon as the kidney stone has passed the ureter. As a rule, however, an examination and treatment by the doctor is required to determine the cause of the kidney pain and to eliminate it.

Nine tips for healthy kidneys

  • High performance filter

    Kidneys are hard workers: Among other things, they filter and detoxify the body's entire amount of blood around 300 times a day - that's up to 15 bathtubs of blood. Everyone can do something to keep the organs fit. Here are nine simple tips to keep your kidneys healthy.
  • Keep yourself fit

    Exercise improves cardiovascular function and thus also protects your kidneys. Find a sport that you enjoy. So exercise doesn't become a chore for you. The following applies: It is better to exercise regularly and in smaller units than for three hours at a time about every two weeks.
  • Check your blood sugar

    High blood sugar levels are generally bad for the blood vessels. The sugar also forms complexes with proteins, which are deposited in tiny blood vessel clusters in the kidneys, the so-called glomeruli. Regularly checking whether the values ​​are correct helps to identify slowly developing diabetes in good time. Anyone who already suffers from diabetes can protect their kidneys with good blood sugar levels.
  • Measure your blood pressure

    In the long run, high blood pressure damages the blood vessels considerably. Even if you don't feel it: Elevated values ​​are no trivial matter, even for the kidneys.
  • Eat healthy

    A balanced diet provides your body with all the important vitamins and minerals. Beware of salt: large amounts of this popular condiment put too much strain on the kidneys. Make sure you eat low-salt. It is better to season with fresh herbs!
  • Drink enough

    Kidneys need water in order to be able to work properly - this is the only way to drain enough urine out of the body, and thus also pollutants. It should be 1.5 liters a day - even more during exercise and in the heat.
  • Refrain from cigarettes

    Smoking is poison, especially for the blood vessels. Those who manage to give up cigarettes are also doing something for their kidneys. Because the organs have to filter the toxins contained in tobacco from the blood - and that is a great burden.
  • Avoid being overweight

    Obesity is a risk factor for many diseases - including kidney weakness. The organs benefit from a body shape that is not too lush. Therefore, try to lose extra pounds. This works best with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Only take pain medication for a short time

    The kidneys, as filter organs, also have the task of removing active pharmaceutical ingredients from the body. They are particularly sensitive to constant bombardment with painkillers. You should therefore only take over-the-counter pain relievers for a short period of time.
  • Have your kidney function checked

    It is particularly useful to monitor kidney function if you belong to a risk group. This includes all people over 60 years of age, diabetics, people with high blood pressure, overweight people and people who have family members with kidney disease.

Kidney Pain: Finding the Cause

The doctor will first give you a thorough understanding of your Medical history ask (anamnesis). Among other things, he will have your complaints detailed, ask how long they have existed and whether there are any illnesses (acute cystitis, diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure, etc.). How often and how much water you urinate is also important for the diagnosis.

The anamnesis is followed by the physical examination at. This allows the doctor to recognize other symptoms such as fever, high blood pressure, water retention or abnormal heart sounds.

A Blood analysis can provide evidence of inflammation. In the case of kidney pain, an examination is also mandatory Urine sample.Changes in the urine can indicate kidney disease early on. For example, foamy urine indicates that there is protein in the urine (proteinuria), which can indicate a kidney dysfunction, for example. Red colored urine (hematuria), on the other hand, can indicate kidney inflammation, kidney tumor or kidney failure.

From certain blood and urine values, conclusions can also be drawn about the Functionality of the kidneys pull:

  • Urea, creatinine, and cystatin C are normally filtered out of the blood by the kidneys. If the kidney function is impaired, however, the concentration of these substances in the blood increases. The concentration of the substances in the urine is also measured and then compared with the blood values. From this, the filter performance of the kidneys can be calculated (creatinine clearance).
  • Uric acid is produced when dead body cells are broken down and is excreted via the kidneys. Elevated uric acid levels can indicate, among other things, severe kidney dysfunction.

In addition, the PAH clearance check how well the kidneys are supplied with blood. To do this, the substance para-aminohippuric acid is injected and then measured in blood and urine. The Inulin clearance makes it possible to measure the filtration capacity of the kidney corpuscles (glomeruli). Here, too, the amount of substance in blood and urine is determined and calculated after intravenous injection.

If these examinations do not clearly identify the cause of the kidney pain, further diagnosis is made with the help of imaging procedures. The doctor can use ultrasound (sonography) to assess the shape of the kidneys and identify any pathological changes (such as cysts or tumors). Sometimes more imaging tests are needed. These include, for example, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) and x-ray examinations of the lower urinary tract using a contrast agent (urography).

Treatment of kidney pain

Which therapy the doctor prescribes depends on the cause of the kidney pain. Some examples:

Kidney stones often go off on their own. If this does not happen, the doctor can use shock waves to shatter them (shock wave lithotripsy). Pressure waves are generated on the surface of the skin, which continue into the kidney stone and break it up. Kidney stones rarely have to be removed surgically.

Bacterial urinary tract infections and Inflammation of the renal pelvis the doctor fights with a suitable antibiotic. This will quickly ease the kidney pain. Even so, antibiotics must be taken for as long as prescribed by the doctor. Otherwise, not all pathogens may be killed.

AKidney failure is an absolute emergency! It is treated with blood washing (dialysis). Sometimes a kidney transplant may also be necessary.

Kidney pain: you can do it yourself

The following tips will help you to relieve kidney pain in the short term before you see a doctor:

  • Keep yourself warm: a hot water bottle or a thick woolen scarf around the kidneys relax the muscles.
  • Drink a lot: Diuretic teas made from nettle or dandelion flush the kidneys and flush out bacteria.
  • You can force the removal of kidney stones by drinking a lot, bathing warmly or using a warming pillow. Hopping movements can also help the stone get through the urinary tract faster.

Important: These tips are not a substitute for a visit to the doctor! Always take kidney pain seriously and have it checked out by a doctor.

Coffee for the sick kidney
People with chronic kidney disease often die earlier. A simple strategy can significantly improve your life expectancy: drink coffee. From Christiane Fux

Prevent kidney stones

If you eat a low-salt diet and drink at least two to three liters of fluids a day, you can get kidney stones and associated with them Kidney pain prevent. This is especially important for people who have had kidney stones before. You are more prone to getting some again.

Author & source information