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Medical kidney pain

Urinary Retention: Causes, Diagnosis & Treatment


Urinary retention can be caused by problems affecting your ureters, bladder or urethra.

What is urinary retention?

Urinary retention is a condition where your bladder doesn’t empty all the way or at all when you urinate. Your bladder is like a storage tank for urine. Urine is made up of waste that’s filtered out of your blood by your kidneys. Once filtered, the urine moves to your bladder where it waits till it’s time to move through the urethra and out of the body.

When you have urinary retention, it can be acute (sudden) or chronic (long-term). Acute means that it comes on quickly and it could be severe. Chronic urinary retention means that you’ve had the condition for a longer period of time.

The acute form of urinary retention is an emergency. In this case, you’ll need to see a healthcare provider right away. The chronic form happens most of the time in older men, but it can also occur in women.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes chronic urinary retention?

Urinary retention can happen for several different reasons. These causes can include:

  • A blockage to the way urine leaves your body.
  • Medications you’re taking for other conditions.
  • Nerve issues that interrupt the way your brain and urinary system communicate.
  • Infections and swelling that prevent urine from leaving your body.
  • Complications and side effects of medications given to you for a surgical procedure.


When something blocks the free flow of urine through the bladder and urethra, you might experience urinary retention. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of your body. In men, a blockage can be caused when the prostate gland gets so big that it presses on the urethra. This is the most common cause of chronic urinary retention in men. One cause in women is a bladder that sags. This is called cystocele. It can also be caused when the rectum sags into the back wall of the vagina – a condition called rectocele. Some causes can happen to both men and women. The urethra can get narrow due to scar tissue. This is called a stricture. Urinary stones can also block the flow of urine out of your body.


Urinary retention can also be caused by certain medications. Drugs like antihistamines (Benadryl®), antispasmodics (like Detrol®), opiates (like Vicodin®) and tricyclic antidepressants (like Elavil®) can change the way the bladder muscle works. Other medications can also cause bladder control side effects, including anticholinergics, some blood pressure-lowering medications, antipsychotics, hormonal agents and muscle relaxants.

Nerve issues

Passing your urine happens when the brain tells the bladder muscle to tighten. This squeezes urine from the bladder. The brain then tells the sphincter muscles surrounding the urethra to relax. This lets the flow of urine go through the urethra and out of the body. Anything that gets in the way on the path from the brain to the nerves that go to the bladder and the urethra can also cause this problem. Causes of nerve issues can include:

  • Stroke.
  • Diabetes.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Trauma to the spine or pelvis.
  • Pressure on the spinal cord from tumors and a herniated disk.
  • Vaginal childbirth.

If you have had a thin tube called a catheter in the past, you may be at greater risk for this condition. Your risk is also higher if your healthcare provider has used any other special device on you, such as an ureteroscope or cystoscope (these are telescopes with cameras that look in the urinary tract).

Urinary retention from nerve disease occurs at the same rate in men and women.

Infections and swelling

In men, an infection of the prostate can cause it to swell. This causes it to press on the urethra to block the flow of urine. A urinary tract infection (UTI) can cause swelling of the urethra or weakness of the bladder, both of which can cause urinary retention. Diseases spread by having sex (called STIs) can also cause swelling and lead to retention.


Medicine given before and during surgery to make you sleepy may cause urinary retention right after surgery. Procedures such as hip replacement, spine surgery, rectal surgery, surgery for women’s pelvic issues, and surgery to remove hemorrhoids can cause the problem afterward.

What are the symptoms of urinary retention?

The signs can vary. Some people with the chronic form have a hard time starting the flow of urine. Some have a weak flow once they start. Others may feel the need to go but can’t start. Others have to go a lot, while others still feel the need to go right after going. You may “leak” urine when you aren’t going because the bladder is full.

With the acute form, you’re all of a sudden not able to go at all, or only able to go very small amounts. This occurs even though you have a full bladder. See a healthcare provider right away if this happens to you.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is chronic urinary retention diagnosed?

History and physical exam: During the diagnosis process, your healthcare provider will ask about your signs and symptoms and how long you have had them. He or she will also ask about your medical history and your drug use. A physical exam of the lower abdomen (belly) may show the cause or give your provider additional clues. After this, certain tests may be needed. Men may have a rectal exam to check the size of their prostate.

Your urine may be saved and checked to look for infection.

Ultrasound of the bladder: The amount of urine that stays in your bladder after urinating may be measured by doing an ultrasound test of the bladder. This test is called a postvoid residual or bladder scan.

Cystoscopy: Cystoscopy is a test in which a thin tube with a tiny camera on one end is put into your urethra. This lets the doctor look at pictures of the lining of your urethra and bladder. This test may show a stricture (scar) of the urethra, blockage caused by a stone, an enlarged prostate or a tumor. It can also be used to remove stones, if found. A computed tomography (CT) scan may also help find stones or anything else blocking the flow of urine.

Urodynamic testing: Tests that use a catheter to record pressure within the bladder may be done to tell how well the bladder empties. The rate at which urine flows can also be measured by such tests. This is called urodynamic testing.

EMG: Your healthcare provider may do certain tests if he or she thinks the retention is caused by a problem with the nerves. One test is electromyography (EMG). EMG uses sensors to measure electrical activity of muscles and nerves in and near the bladder and the urethral sphincter.

PSA: A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test may be done as a screen for prostate cancer. If the PSA level is elevated, a transrectal ultrasound and maybe a biopsy of prostate tissue may also be done.

Management and Treatment

How is urinary retention treated?

Treatment for urinary retention can depend on whether you have the acute form or the chronic form, as well as the cause of the condition. For the acute form, a catheter is put into the urethra to drain the bladder.

Treatment of the chronic form – or the acute form that becomes chronic—will depend on the cause.

Medications for enlarged prostate: For men with an enlarged prostate, certain drugs may be used to try and open it up or shrink it. These include alpha-blockers (tamsulosin [Flomax®], terazosin [Hytrin®] and alfuzosin [Uroxatral®]) and 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (finasteride [Proscar®] and dutasteride [Avodart®]). Also, procedures or surgery to open up the prostate may be tried.

Procedures for enlarged prostate: Many procedures are available when this problem is due to an enlarged prostate. Office-based treatments can be done with just local anesthetic (numbing medicine) only. These include water vapor therapy (Rezum®) and prostatic urethral lift (Urolift®).

There are also several surgeries done under general anesthesia which are available. These include shaving down the inside of the prostate (transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP) and opening up the prostate with a laser (Greenlight photoselective vaporization of the prostate, or PVP). A laser can also be used to carve out the entire enlarged portion of the prostate through the urethra (Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate, or HoLEP), or this part of the prostate can be removed through the belly (simple prostatectomy). All of these procedures can be effective in opening up the blockage.

Treatments for urethral stricture: For a urethral stricture, opening the scar tissue in the urethra with catheters and balloons may be tried. Surgery using a knife or laser that is moved through the urethra to make a cut to open the scar is also an option. Sometimes the scar tissue needs to be cut out and the urethra fixed with a surgery called a urethroplasty.

Treatment for nerve issues: If the retention is due to a nerve-related issue, you may need to use a catheter on yourself at home.

Treatments for women with urinary retention: For women with cystocele or rectocele as the cause, mild or moderate cases may be treated with exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. They also may be treated by putting in a ring called a vaginal pessary to support the bladder. Your provider may suggest estrogen therapy if you are past menopause. Surgery may be required for more severe cases to lift the sagging bladder or rectum.

Kidney Pain: Causes, Why kidneys hurt, and When to seek care


Learn about what causes kidney pain, what it feels like, where you may feel it in your body, how to tell kidney pain from back pain and when to talk to your doctor about treatment.

Kidney pain can have many causes. It may be a sign of an infection, injury or another health problem, such as kidney stones. Because of where your kidneys are in your body, kidney pain is also often confused with back pain. Talk to your doctor to find out what is causing your kidney pain and to find the right treatment.

Where do I feel kidney pain?

You feel kidney pain in the area where your kidneys are located: Near the middle of your back, just under your ribcage, on each side of your spine. Your kidneys are part of the urinary tract, the organs that make urine (i.e., pee) and remove it from your body. The urinary tract is made up of the kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.

You may feel kidney pain on only one side or both sides of your back. Having pain in these areas does not always mean there is something wrong with your kidneys. Because there are muscles, bones and other organs around your kidneys, it can be hard to tell what exactly is causing your pain. If you have constant pain you think may be caused by your kidneys, talk to your doctor.

What does kidney pain feel like?

Kidney pain often feels like a dull ache that gets worse if someone gently presses on that area. While it is more common to feel kidney pain on only one side, some health problems may affect both kidneys and cause pain on both sides of your back.

Kidney pain vs. back pain

Because of where your kidneys are in your body, it is easy to confuse kidney pain and back pain. How can you tell the difference?

Kidney pain:

  • Is felt high on your back and deep in your body
  • Feels dull
  • Can happen on one or both sides
  • Likely will not go away when you shift your body or rest

Back pain:

  • Is usually felt in your lower back
  • May shoot down one leg
  • Feels more like a stabbing pain
  • Gets worse when you do certain activities, like bending over or lifting something heavy
  • May ease when you shift your body or rest

What causes kidney pain?

Kidney pain has many possible causes. Your doctor can help you find out what is causing your pain and work with you on the best way to treat it.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are one of the most common causes of kidney pain. Kidney stones happen when waste that builds up in your blood and sticks together in your kidneys to form clumps. Small kidney stones may move through your urinary tract and come out with your urine. However, larger stones can be very painful to pass, or you may need surgery to have them removed.

Urinary tract infection 

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria in your urinary tract and can cause pain when you urinate. Most UTIs happen in the bladder and the urethra. UTIs can also cause a fever and the need to urinate often.


Dehydration (not having enough water in your body) can sometimes cause kidney pain. Dehydration can happen through sweating a lot, throwing up, diarrhea, urinating too much or certain health conditions such as diabetes.  

Kidney infection

Kidney infections are caused by bacteria that usually spread to your kidneys from another part of your urinary tract, for example, if you have a urinary tract infection. Women are more likely to have kidney infections because of the way their bodies are built. If you think you have a kidney infection, call your doctor — it needs to be treated right away to help prevent kidney damage.

Kidney injury

Sometimes, your kidneys can get hurt, for example if you have a fall or accident or during sports like football, boxing or soccer. Pain from a kidney injury could be mild or very strong, depending on how badly your kidneys are hurt. Kidney injury, also known as kidney trauma or kidney bruising, is different from acute kidney injury. 

Kidney cancer

Kidney cancer may not cause any pain or other symptoms early on. As the cancer gets worse, you may notice pain that does not go away in your side, back or belly. You may also have a fever or blood in your urine. However, these symptoms do not always mean you have kidney cancer — many other health problems can also cause these symptoms. 

Polycystic kidney disease

Polycystic kidney disease is a genetic condition that causes cysts (growths filled with fluid) to grow in your kidneys. These cysts make the kidneys much larger than they should be and can cause pain in your back or side.

What are the symptoms of kidney pain?

Depending on what is causing your kidney pain, you may have other symptoms as well. Some of these could mean you have a serious kidney problem. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms along with kidney pain:

  • Fever
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pain when you urinate
  • Body aches or chills
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling sick to your stomach or throwing up

How is kidney pain treated?

The treatment for kidney pain depends on what is causing it. Be sure to call your doctor if you have any kidney pain. Your doctor may do:

  • A urine test to check for signs of infection
  • Imaging tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to see if your kidneys are injured

Once you know what is causing your pain, your doctor can work with you to find the right treatment.


Pain management and kidney disease

Chronic pain is an unfortunate reality for many people and is even more common for those who have kidney disease. Watch our webinar and learn about pain management strategies and medicines people with kidney disease can safely use to reduce pain.

Watch our webinar

Filed under

  • Kidney disease
  • Healthy living
  • Living with kidney disease
  • Patient

Pain in the kidneys - the main causes, classification of the nature of pain, diagnosis of kidney diseases

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One of the most common complaints at urologist appointments is kidney pain. However, it is possible to accurately determine the disturbing organ only with the help of a thorough diagnosis.

One of the most common complaints at urologist appointments is kidney pain. However, it is possible to accurately determine the disturbing organ only with the help of a thorough diagnosis. Not only the kidneys themselves can bring discomfort in the lumbar region and on the sides of the lower back, but also their closest “neighbors”: the spleen, liver, organs of the genitourinary system and abdominal cavity, as well as diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Not everyone knows that most often the kidneys "ache" in the lower hypochondrium (they are located just above the waist).

Diseases of the kidneys causing pain in the lumbar region:

  • pyelonephritis
    An inflammatory bacterial disease that most often occurs in children under 7 years old, girls from 18 to 30 years old, and also in older men. It is accompanied by aching and pulling pains, high fever, headaches. It develops very rapidly: the first symptoms become noticeable after a couple of hours.
  • glomerulonephritis
    The kidneys during the disease are affected immediately from two sides. The filtration function is broken. It can be caused by anomalies in the structure of the kidneys, infections and toxins, as well as oncology. A person experiences severe and cutting pains, increased blood pressure, reduced urination, malaise, weakness, decreased appetite, and performance.
  • kidney failure
    A serious disease that leads to partial or complete loss of the ability of the kidneys to form urine. This can lead to damage to almost all organs and systems of the body. This pathology occurs as a result of impaired hemodynamics of the kidneys, severe intoxication or infection, acute periods of renal diseases, traumatic conditions. The main symptom: a sharp decrease in the amount of urine. If the disease was fixed at a late stage, hemodialysis and preparation for a kidney transplant are prescribed.
  • nephroptosis (displaced kidney)
    There are many reasons for the occurrence of pathology: a sharp loss of weight, injuries in the abdomen, abnormal development of the organ, conditions after pregnancy. The pain symptom here is very strong, it cannot be eliminated with the help of analgesics. The pain in most cases increases when taking a vertical position, closer to the second half of the day.
  • malignant neoplasms in the kidneys (organ cancer)
    At an early stage, the disease is difficult to detect, since it is asymptomatic. In development, cancer is manifested by bloody discharge in the urine, dull constant pain in different parts of the abdomen, temperature fluctuations, and weight loss. In order to avoid the problem, it is necessary to undergo regular preventive examinations.
  • benign neoplasms in the kidneys (hamartomas, adenomas)
    The course at an early stage is asymptomatic. In development, there are pulling pains and discomfort in the lumbar region. Treatment is by surgery.
  • urolithiasis
    When stones form, a person experiences very severe pain, because when moving, the object moves and damages tissues. This type of pain is called renal colic. It begins paroxysmal and can "shoot" in any area of ​​​​the lower back, as well as the lower abdomen and groin.
  • renal cysts
    Pathology occurs in adulthood, but its congenital or acquired form is also found. Large cysts can cause pain in the lumbar region, the appearance of blood in the urine, increased blood pressure.

It is impossible to determine the cause of pain in the kidney area without a thorough examination. It is equally dangerous to try to treat the symptom yourself.

Any, even a minor pathology of the kidneys can develop into a global problem. Improper treatment or its absence contribute to the transition of the disease into a chronic form.

Infections often join, other organs and systems are affected.

Lack of proper therapy can lead to the development of severe pathologies. Among them, the most common are heart failure, encephalopathy, pulmonary and cerebral edema. In severe cases, the development of sepsis, uremic coma and death of the patient are possible.

Avoid complications and get rid of pain in the kidney area is quite simple. Do not delay contacting the clinic. Choose a good doctor who can help you figure out the cause of your discomfort and suggest treatments. Come to an appointment with the specialists of the Kutuzov Medical and Diagnostic Center. We will help you cope with the problem and avoid the appearance of serious pathologies.

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice:

  • you feel pain in the lumbar region (either separately on each side or simultaneously on both sides)
  • Discomfort in the upper lumbar region in the morning
  • back pain accompanied by chills and fever
  • that the amount of urination, as well as the amount of urine itself, has dropped sharply
  • frequent urination with small amounts of urine
  • change in the consistency of urine (appearance of turbidity, blood, small stones and sand)
  • urinary discomfort (burning, pain)

Diagnosis of kidney disease can require a lot of testing. Most often, it is inconvenient for a sick person to visit different medical centers in search of such an opportunity. Kutuzovsky Medical and Diagnostic Center provides its patients with the opportunity to undergo a full examination in one place. You don't have to waste time waiting or stand in long queues. All procedures are carried out by appointment at a fixed time.

We have all the necessary equipment for research of any complexity. High-precision instruments are used for diagnostics, which allows avoiding erroneous results and choosing the most effective treatment regimen. Your health and comfort are our priority.

Come to the clinic to regain the joy of life without pain.

To make an accurate diagnosis, a urologist may prescribe the following diagnostic methods:

  • laboratory tests (general blood and urine tests; biochemical tests, bacteriological tests)
  • Ultrasound of the kidneys
  • CT scan of the kidneys for suspected urolithiasis to rule out neoplasms

If you want to reduce the intensity of pain on your own before seeing a specialist, following a diet can help you: exclude salty, spicy and smoked foods from the diet, drink decoctions of medicinal herbs. Keep the body, and especially the lumbar region and legs, warm, keep bed rest.

Remember that any disease detected at an early stage is easier to treat and saves you energy and money. When the first symptoms of kidney disease appear, consult a urologist as soon as possible or undergo one of the comprehensive examination programs.

In our center you can make an appointment with good specialists:

The content of this article has been checked and confirmed for compliance with medical standards by urologist Dmitry Vladislavovich Gorov.

Prices for the treatment of kidney pain



Reception (examination, consultation) of a general practitioner primary 2200 ₽


Repeated appointment (examination, consultation) with a general practitioner 1900 ₽


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Dermatovenereologist, mycologist, trichologist

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Kidneys hurt, or lower back - how to determine? — CMT Clinic

Pain in the kidneys and lower back are similar symptomatically - they are felt acutely, significantly restrict movement, and are localized in the same areas.

But with kidney diseases, there is often a general malaise with a feeling of weakness, fever, headache.

In turn, musculoskeletal pain does not spread to the abdomen, there are no signs of sensitivity disorders, and they are chronic.

In case of neurological disorders, “shots” in the leg, impaired sensitivity in the area of ​​the affected areas are not uncommon.

Red flags. What to look for:

• pain does not improve with rest;
• tendencies to increase are noticeable;
• there is a high temperature, weight is reduced.

As with any symptoms, we do not recommend self-diagnosis and self-medication. For example, if you decide to help your lower back with a warming ointment, while there is a risk of kidney pathologies, hernia (which is extremely common), any other inflammatory process, you will not only not help, but also harm your health up to disability.

Lower back pain is a common symptom characteristic not only for osteochondrosis (and kidney disease), but also for:

• peptic ulcer;
• thromboses and aneurysms;
• diseases of the ovaries;
• urolithiasis;
• inflammatory processes in the pelvis and abdominal region.

Regardless of the concomitant symptoms, in case of back pain, we recommend reducing the load and making an appointment with a doctor.

Which doctor should I go to?

If you have no changes in your urine (colour, smell, presence of blood), make an appointment with a neurologist.

At the appointment, the doctor will determine the true cause of the pain, if the latter is neurological, musculoskeletal in nature. If you suspect a hernia, with a decrease in reflexes, muscle atrophy, suspected inflammatory processes, additional diagnostics may be required, including X-ray, CT, ultrasound, urine and blood tests.

Should I rush to see a doctor?

We do not recommend delaying the diagnosis of your body. Especially if you have doubts about the causes of lumbar pain. Even if the cause of pain is osteochondrosis, make an appointment with a doctor to stop the destructive processes of your musculoskeletal system.

Primary appointment with a neurologist

2 100 ₽

Repeated appointment with a neurologist (within 1 month)

1 900 ₽

Primary appointment with an osteopath

4 500 ₽

Reception of a manual therapist

3 500 ₽

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