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Kidney Diseases

Left flank pain



I started having pain in my left (mid to side of ribcage) a few days ago. I was diagnosed with a kidney stone in that left kidney about 3 years ago but my doc thinks it is lodged in there. There was some discomfort in urinating but that is gone. It is dark in color but I think I do not drink enough water. The pain is terrible (a 10) in the middle of the night and early morning and tends to subside to about a 5. I have tried heat and that doesn`t help. It sometimes hurts to take a deep breath and sometimes hurts when I move a certain way but not all the time. It hurts the worse at the very end of my rib cage in the back to the side of the rib cage. There is some discomfort when pushed on but not too bad. I have also been diagnosed with something on my liver that my primary care physician said was common and doesn`t need to be treated. That was found on the sonogram when they were looking at my kidneys. I have a high pain tolerance and this is getting unbearable! I do not have health insurance right now and if it is just muscular I would rather not spend the money on tests.


Your story is very concerning. I am not clear about when your doctor said that the stone was probably lodged in the kidney: was that three years ago, or right now?

It does sound like a stone may be stuck now, causing urine to back up behind it and producing severe pain. The pain is not related to the spot on your liver, which sounds like a hemangioma. In any case, the liver is on your right side, the opposite side from your pain. The pain also sounds like something worse than a simple muscular pain.

Even if you have no insurance, you need to seek medical help soon. Do you have a free clinic in your area? If so, I'd start with an evaluation there. If an x-ray shows a stone that is stuck, you may be able to pass it by drinking a lot of fluids, if you are able to do this. If not, surgery may be needed to remove it. Even if it's not a stone, the fact that you are in such pain despite having a high pain tolerance is of great concern. Please get seen soon (not necessarily today, but certainly by early next week)!

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Response by:

Mildred   Lam, MD Mildred Lam, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University