Doctor examining patient's lower back for bilateral flank pain diagnosis and treatment.
Flank Pain

Bilateral Flank Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Bilateral flank pain refers to discomfort or pain experienced on both sides of the lower back, just below the rib cage. This type of pain can be alarming and may indicate underlying health issues. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bilateral flank pain is crucial for proper management and relief.

Causes of Bilateral Flank Pain

Bilateral flank pain, or pain on both sides of the lower back, can be caused by various factors. Here are some possible causes:

  1. Kidney Stones: Kidney stones are one of the most frequent causes of bilateral flank discomfort. These hard deposits can cause excruciating discomfort as they move through the urinary tract; they develop in the kidneys.
  2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI): Infections in the urinary tract, including the kidneys, bladder, and ureters, can cause bilateral flank pain along with other symptoms such as frequent urination, burning sensation during urination, and fever.
  3. Muscle Strain: Overexertion or injury to the muscles in the lower back can lead to bilateral flank pain. This type of pain is usually dull and achy and may worsen with movement.
  4. Kidney Infection: Also known as pyelonephritis, a kidney infection can cause severe bilateral flank pain, along with symptoms like fever, nausea, and vomiting.
  5. Hydronephrosis: This condition occurs when the kidneys become swollen due to the buildup of urine. It can cause bilateral flank pain, especially if the swelling is severe.
  6. Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD): In PKD, fluid-filled cysts develop in the kidneys, leading to enlargement of the kidneys and potentially causing bilateral flank pain.
  7. Other Causes: Other less common causes of bilateral flank pain include spinal conditions like herniated discs, infections in the spine, and referred pain from abdominal organs such as the pancreas or liver.

Symptoms of Bilateral Flank Pain

The symptoms of bilateral flank pain can vary depending on the underlying cause. However, some common symptoms include:

  • Pain or discomfort on both sides of the lower back, just below the rib cage
  • Pain that may radiate to the groin or abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever and chills
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Burning sensation during urination

It is important to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis if you experience any of these symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing the underlying cause of bilateral flank pain typically involves a thorough medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. These tests may include:

  • Urine culture and urinalysis to look for infections
  • Blood tests to assess kidney function and check for signs of infection or inflammation
  • Imaging tests such as ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI to visualize the kidneys and urinary tract

Treatment for bilateral flank pain depends on the underlying cause and may include:

  • Pain management: Pain relief products available over-the-counter, including acetaminophen or ibuprofen, may be able to assist.
  • Antibiotics: If a bacterial infection is the cause, antibiotics will be prescribed to treat the infection.
  • Kidney stone treatment: Treatment for kidney stones may include pain medication, increased fluid intake, or procedures to remove or break up the stones.
  • Surgery: In some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat conditions such as hydronephrosis or PKD.


To help prevent bilateral flank pain, it is important to:

  • Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help prevent kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption can help prevent kidney problems.
  • Practice good hygiene: Keeping the genital area clean and urinating after sexual intercourse can help prevent UTIs.

In conclusion, bilateral flank pain can be a sign of various underlying health issues, ranging from kidney stones to kidney infections. It is important to consult a healthcare provider for a proper diagnosis and treatment if you experience this type of pain. By understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for bilateral flank pain, you can take steps to manage and prevent it.

Janvi Dhiman holds a Master's degree in Biotechnology and has a background in both undergraduate and postgraduate studies from Amity University, Noida. Her passion lies in making meaningful contributions to the healthcare and research sectors. Currently, she is a valued member of our team, serving as a Research Analyst and a medical content writer at DiseaseInfoHub.

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