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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Side hurts...kidneys?

01/10/2007

Question:

Hello, I have been getting regular check ups that include full blood work...which has always come back fine...last blood work up was less than 6 months ago.

I have recently been having a dull pain on my right back side...Kind of like a side ache from running...but less severe...and more constant.

I do consume too much alcohol and am working to make lifestyle changes to combat the use...my question...if my blood tests are coming back good...with no liver problems...should I be concerned about the kidney...or is this just a strained back from playing tennis...and how can I tell the difference?

Answer:

Thank you for your question.  The "right upper quadrant" of the abdomen and the right posterior flank areas have several things that can cause pain:

The nerves are very poorly developed in this area of the body, so pain in one of these organs or structures can mimic pain in other ones near-by. 

Typically, the liver does not cause "pain" from excessive drinking, but rather pain on the right side is often from other sources.  So your pain is not likely due to your liver.

The NIH agency that studies alcohol problems "NIAAA" has published guidelines on low risk alcohol consumption for those people who do not have personal histories or family histories of alcoholism (for whom there may be no "safe consumption").  These include 2 or fewer drinks per drinking occasion and less than 10 drinks/week for men.  The levels are lower for women.  If your drinking is above those recommended, AND IF you have ben trying to cut down but have not been successful (e.g. unable to limit use), then you have a drinking problem and need to quit rather than cutting down!

Good luck, please write back with other questions. 

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University