Flank pain is pain in one side of the body between the upper belly area (abdomen) and the back.
Treatment depends on the cause.
Rest, physical therapy, and exercise may be recommended if the pain is caused by muscle spasm. You will be taught how to do these exercises at home.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and physical therapy may be prescribed for flank pain caused by spinal arthritis.
Antibiotics are used to treat most kidney infections. You will also receive fluids and pain medicine. You may need to stay in the hospital.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Flank pain along with a high fever, chills, nausea, or vomiting
- Blood (red or brown color) in the urine
- Unexplained flank pain that continues
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
The doctor or nurse will examine you. You will be asked about your medical history and symptoms, including:
- Location of the pain
- When the pain began, if it's always there or comes and goes, if it's getting worse
- What the pain feels like, such as dull and aching or sharp
- What other symptoms you have
The following tests may be done:
Pain - side; Side pain
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McQuaid K. Approach to the patient with gastrointestinal disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds.Goldman's Cecil Medicine
Millham FH. Acute abdominal pain. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds.Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management.
Update Date 3/5/2015
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.