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Painful Flank
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Painful Flank

I am a woman, 36 years of age, very healthy.  I am fit and have had 2 children.  I have no ob-gyn problems, have not had a bladder infection for many years.

Here's the issue...

For most of my life, I have experienced some pain in my right flank after a long night's sleep (i.e. after sleeping with a full bladder).  The pain usually subsides once I have enptied my bladder.

I also get this same sensation when sleeping on a hard surface.  Even with an empty bladder, I get a pain in the flank which is more severe and takes several days to go away.

Over the past few months, I have been experiencing this pain more frequently, and not always under the conditions described above.  I more commonly experience the pain in my flank during the day.  It is not as severe as if I had been sleeping with a full bladder or on a full surface, but it is persistent.  And it is eased with an emptying of the bladder (if only by small amounts).

I thought everyone experienced this sort of ache in the side after sleeping with a full bladder.  But my husband says he does not.  In addition, the pain I experienced in my side after camping last summer (i.e. sleeping on a hard surface) was more severe than usual.  Finally, I am concerned about the dull aching sensation being present during the day.

Any idea what this is?

My father-in-law is an anatomy professos, suspects the pain has to do with the ureter on the right hand side.  Apparently, we are all constructed differently, and perhaps my construct results in an achy side or ureter some times.

I just want to make sure I am not missing something.  And it woud be great to find a way to reduce the ache so that it's not noticeable, or as persistent.  Perhaps a softer mattress (especially on camping trips).

What do you think?







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Certainly it can be due to a musculoskeletal issue, but the disease I would want to ensure it isn't is a kidney or ureteral stone causing the flank pain.

I would suggest obtaining a urinalysis to ensure there is no blood in the urine.  The best test today to evaluate for stones would be a non-contrast spiral CT to evaluate for stones.  If negative, then you can consider GI causes (best evaluated with an abdominal CT scan and endoscopy) or OB/GYN causes (can be referred to a specialist).  

If the workup is indeed negative, then you may want to discuss ways to best treat and manage musculoskeletal pain.  

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Thanks,
Kevin, M.D.
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