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Kidney Diseases

Polycystic Disease and Kidney Pain

10/14/2009

Question:

I have had a dull aching pain in my left side under my last rib and sharp pains in my left kidney for a number of years. I noticed that chronically the pain in my side and my kidney will increase and I`ll turn up with either a bladder infection kidney infection or UTI. I`m obsessivly clean because of past infections and so is my husband, but the pain never goes away and the infections keep coming back. I don`t know whats wrong with me. I am afraid the pain in my side and the pains in my kidney are one in the same. Is this possibly a sign of polycystic kidney disease?

Answer:

It is hard to tell, from your description, whether the pain in your side has anything to do with your kidney, or whether what you call “sharp pains in my left kidney” are actually from your kidney. It is also hard to know whether either of the pains in your side is related to your recurrent UTIs. If there is a kidney abnormality, this should be linked to kidney infections, but not to bladder infections.

Please see the link below to “Kidney Pain,” and see if it sounds like either of the pains are from your kidney. If so, you should ask your doctor about having an imaging study such as an IVP or ultrasound, in order to determine whether there is a structural problem with your kidney that might be making you more susceptible to infections. Also, your physician may be able to put you on prophylactic (or preventive) antibiotics, which are taken in low dose every day in order to prevent recurrent UTIs.

As for polycystic kidney disease, this is a genetic disease. So if you have anyone in your family with PKD, you can be screened for it with an ultrasound exam, and that will settle the question for once and for all. However, it is uncommon for PKD to be associated with many UTIs. The pain of PKD tends to be a dull, aching abdominal or back pain; other signs include high blood pressure, blood in the urine (sometimes in microscopic amounts only), and enlarged kidneys that are detectable on physical exam or by ultrasound.

Related Resources:

Kidney Pain

For more information:

Go to the Kidney Diseases health topic, where you can:

Response by:

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