If a person feels pain in their side or experiences tenderness around their lower back, it could indicate kidney issues. Kidney pain may be dull and constant or sudden and sharp.

Kidney pain may point to conditions such as kidney infections or kidney stones, among others. These conditions can affect how well the kidneys function, so it is essential to seek medical advice for kidney pain.

This article will discuss where in the body someone may feel kidney pain and what it might feel like. It will also explore the possible causes of kidney pain and when to contact a doctor.

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A person may feel kidney pain under the lower part of their rib cage. They may feel kidney pain on either their right or left side, or they may experience it on both sides at the same time.

Kidney pain may also come from the middle or upper part of a person’s back. They may also feel pain relating to the kidneys anywhere in the urinary system, such as the bladder.

Kidney pain may feel like a constant, dull pain or ache. Alternatively, it may be excruciating and sharp.

If a doctor gently presses on or taps the person’s flank area, the pain may worsen.

What the pain feels like will likely depend on its cause. Also, individuals may feel and respond to kidney pain differently.

If a person experiences pain in their mid to upper back, it could indicate that there is something wrong with their kidneys.

Kidney pain in the back may be a constant ache, or it may be sharp and sudden. Some people may describe it as a “stabbing” pain.

The most common causes of kidney pain that radiates to the back are infections and kidney stones.

A kidney infection may have started with a urinary tract infection (UTI).

Kidney stones can cause a person to experience excruciating pain that feels like spasms. This pain may also spread to the groin.

However, if kidney pain worsens when a person bends over or lifts something, it may be the result of back muscle or bone problems rather than an issue affecting the kidney.

Learn how to tell the difference between back pain and kidney pain here.

A person may also feel kidney pain in their groin. This may happen because pain can radiate to areas of the body other than where it originates.

Males may feel kidney-related pain in their testicles.

However, if testicular pain is accompanied by enlargement, redness, or changes to the scrotal skin, the problem might be a primary issue with the testicle. If this is the case, they should seek medical advice.

Learn about some other symptoms of testicular cancer here.

If a person experiences a stinging or burning pain while urinating, they may have a urine or bladder infection.

Some other symptoms of infection include:

Bacteria in the bladder can cause kidney infections.

A person with any of these symptoms should contact a doctor.

Learn more about kidney infections here.

If someone is experiencing kidney pain, it may indicate a problem with one or both of their kidneys.

There are various reasons that someone may have kidney pain, including:

  • A UTI: If bacteria infect part of the urinary tract system, including the bladder or urethra, a person may develop a UTI. If they do not seek treatment for the UTI, the infection may spread to the kidneys.
  • A kidney infection: A kidney infection can affect one or both kidneys and be extremely painful. Doctors call this condition pyelonephritis.
  • Kidney stones: Urine contains minerals that, at high levels, can form stones in the kidneys. If the stones stay in the kidneys, the person may not experience kidney pain. However, as the kidney stones pass into the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder, it can cause pain or block the flow of urine.
  • Renal vein thrombosis: This is a rare condition wherein a blood clot lodges in one of the veins that carry blood from the kidneys. Symptoms may appear gradually or suddenly.
  • Hydronephrosis: If the flow of urine becomes blocked with a stone, blood clot, or scarring, the urine may back up and cause the kidneys to swell. Hydronephrosis can affect one or both kidneys.
  • Kidney cancer: Cancer can form in the kidneys if the cells begin to grow abnormally. Various cancers can affect the kidneys of both adults and children.

A person may experience a range of other symptoms in addition to kidney pain, including:

The kidneys are a pair of bean shaped organs that are situated on either side of the spine, just below the rib cage.

The kidneys are around 4 inches (10 centimeters) long — roughly the size of an adult’s fist. The left kidney tends to be slightly larger and sit slightly higher up in the body.


The primary job of the kidneys is to filter waste products from the blood. For example, they get rid of excess water from the body by creating urine.

The kidneys also help control blood pressure and help the body make more red blood cells.

Learn more about the kidneys here.

A person who is experiencing kidney pain should contact a doctor as soon as possible to find out what is causing it.

People must contact a doctor to diagnose and treat kidney pain. Receiving the correct treatment ensures that the kidneys do not become damaged, which can lead to kidney failure.

Doctors may order tests such as:

  • urine tests, which can help them identify any infections
  • imaging tests, such as CT or ultrasound scans
  • cytology, which can help them identify cancer cells in the urine


Kidney infections can lead to a severe and potentially life threatening condition called sepsis.

If a person is experiencing the following symptoms, they need emergency medical care:

Without the correct treatment, kidney infections can become chronic and cause permanent kidney damage.

Kidney pain can occur on either or both sides of the spine, below the ribs. Some people may also experience pain in the lower groin.

Pain in the kidneys may be an indication that something is wrong with these essential organs. Various conditions can cause kidney pain, including infections, kidney stones, and cancer.

People with kidney pain must consult a doctor. Even minor UTIs can spread to the kidneys and lead to sepsis or kidney damage.