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Unfortunately everything is not as simple as might be expected. First, some of the most important causes of kidney failure don’t cause pain in the kidneys. Secondly, not all pains that come from the areas of the kidneys come from the kidneys.

The commonest causes of kidney pain in the back are

  1. Infection - An infection in a kidney is called acute pyelonephritis.
  2. Kidney stones - These can cause a very, very severe pain that comes on in spasms, and travels down to the groin, and is called renal colic by doctors.

 Tests may be performed to make sure the pain is not coming from the muscles or bones of the back, or from the bowel or gallbladder.

Common tests done to help diagnose kidney problems if you are having pain

  1. Urine dipstick : The dipstick tests for blood or protein in the urine. The commonest cause of blood and protein in the urine is infection. Other causes are given in the information on blood in the urine and protein in the urine. Urine sticks also sometimes test for nitrates, which may be positive in a fresh urine sample if there is infection.
  2. Urine culture : Urine can be sent to the laboratory for tests to see if there are bugs in the urine. This culture test requires clean urine, that hasn't been contaminated by bugs from the skin. Therefore doctors ask for a ‘mid stream urine’. This means the sample is collected half way through passing urine. Ask for detailed instructions if you are not familiar with collecting this type of sample.
  3. Ultrasound  of the kidneys and bladder : Scans can show the size and shape of the kidneys, and whether the bladder is emptying fully each time urine is passed.  . 
  4. Blood tests :  to measure whether the kidneys are removing waste from the body normally are usually performed.
  5. CT scan of kidneys : This will help diagnose kidney stones , cysts and masses . 
  6. Kidney biopsy : In some cases where kidney pain is not caused by infection and there is a suspicion of kidney disease, a kidney biopsy may be performed.

Call  us at kingwood kidney associates 281-401-9540 to schedule your appointment to help get your blood pressure controlled . 

You can also schedule your appointment online using the booking tool on this page. Book your examination today.


Dr. Sowmya Puthalapattu Sowmya Puthalapattu, MD, or Dr. Sowmya as she’s known to patients, is an experienced board-certified nephrologist and internal medicine physician at Kingwood Kidney Associates, with offices in Kingwood and The Woodlands, Texas. Dedicated to providing her patients with comprehensive individualized care, Dr. Puthalapattu believes in the importance of active listening and having an open and creative clinical mind to provide the right care to meet her patients’ needs. She is faculty and Subspeciality education coordinator for Nephrology at IM GME program HCA Kingwood . Her areas of specialty include chronic kidney disease, end-stage renal disease, hyponatremia, and high blood pressure. A resident of The Woodlands, Texas, Dr. Puthalapattu spends her free time with her husband and two children. Her favorite activities include hiking and traveling.

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