If you experience pain in your one of your sides, you may wonder what it is and how can you get rid of it. The pain you feel is called flank pain. It generally affects the sides of the body, upper back and abdomen. Because flank pain can develop from a number of things, including kidney infections and muscle strains, it's important to see a primary care physician for care. Here's more information about flank pain and what you can do to treat it.

What's Flank Pain?

Flank describes the region between your lower ribcage and hip bones. Pain can show up anywhere in this region, such as on the left side or in the lower right side, and often occurs when something goes wrong with the organs and tissues it protects, including your kidneys, gallbladder and liver. Kidney pain is one of the most common and problematic types of flank pain because it can develop in one or both sides of the body, as well as in the small of the back and abdomen. Kidney pain occurs from a number of things, including bacterial infections and kidney stones.

Other causes of flank pain are muscle tears and pulls. These types of problems occur when you move your back the wrong way, such as twisting around too far to see something behind you, or when you strain the muscles of your back, such as lifting very heavy objects. The pain can be subtle or very noticeable, depending on the location and extent of damage to your muscle tissues. Muscle pain can also show up in one or more areas of the flank region, which may make it difficult to treat without a doctor's help. 

Now, that you know how and why flank pain develops, it's time to treat it.

How Do You Get Rid of Your Pain?

If you haven't done so already, it's a good idea that you see a primary care doctor for an exam. A physician may do several things to diagnose your flank pain, including taking X-rays, or radiographs of your back, abdomen and hips. X-rays may reveal the exact location of your flank pain, including any signs of infection in the organs and tissues found in the location.

If traditional radiographs don't reveal enough information about your flank pain, a doctor may use special types of X-rays during your exam, including abdominal and CT scans. These types of imaging devices specifically look for problems in the internal organs of your body, including your kidneys and liver. The images produced by the devices can reveal greater details about the position and condition of your organs.

It's possible for a primary care doctor to run specific tests of your urine to locate signs of infection and other symptoms. For example, urine tests can look for signs of blood in your urine that may indicate bleeding in the kidneys, or the test can reveal a high white blood cell count, which may indicate an infection in the bladder or kidneys. The tests also allow a physician to note the color and smell of your urine to find out if you have problems in other areas of the body besides your kidneys. For example, brown urine can be a sign of liver problems. Urine that smells like ammonia may indicate dehydration or not drinking enough fluids. The results of the tests helps a primary care doctor design a treatment plan that addresses all of your problems properly.

Your treatment may include drinking more fluids to keep your kidneys healthy and taking antibiotics to get rid of any infections you have in your flank region. If you have injuries in the muscles of your flank region, a doctor may prescribe physical therapy to help the tissues heal. A doctor may ask you to get sufficient rest and avoid anything that can aggravate your injured tissues.

A doctor will most likely schedule you for follow-up visits to monitor your progress. You should always inform a physician about any changes you experience during your treatment, including any new flank pain you develop.