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Avatar universal

Flank pain only during sleep/upon waking

Every morning I wake in excrutiating pain in the lower back (kidney area) that radiates to the front of stomach.  This pain is so severe that it wakes me up and makes it difficult to take a deep breath.  I feared it was kidney's and had a battery of tests done, along with MRI's that showed nothing.  Dr. thinks it could be muscle related.  The pain seems to arise after 5-6 hours of sleep.  At first it seemed that the pain was immediately relieved once I voided of a morning, now it seems that as soon as I stand I get relief, which makes me think maybe it could be nerve compression?  The pain wakes me from sleep and gives me anxiety in the evenings before bedtime due to the fact that I know I will wake in horrible pain.  This has been going on for the last 9 years after the birth of my daughter and has progressivley gotten worse.  The doctors are stumped as to what this can be and has referred me to a chiro and recommended a nerve block. If anyone has any ideas, please advise.  Thanks!
256 Responses
Avatar universal
Did you ever receive any help on this issue. I am experiencing very similar symptoms ( I am male 47 yrs of age). Doctor thought it was muscle related and took Nexproxen for a couple of weeks and seemed to help, but came back. I go to Chiropractor (10 yrs now), and both times seems like it started right after visit, but has never happened before this. As you say, wakes me up due to pain after about 4-5 hrs of sleep and does not get better regardless of how I position myself. Let me know if you ever got this corrected. Thanks.
Avatar universal
Flank pain also awakens me after 5-6 hours of sleep, just like you the pain subsidizes after I wake up and move around for a few minutes. Base on my experience, the pain is muscular. As we sleep, our body temperature may slightly drop, leading to a muscular pain/spasm around the kidneys/lower back area. As I am sitting here in this cold library, I can feel the flank pain. Solution: Try to sleep covering your lower back with a warm blanket or wear an extra layer of clothing that will keep your lower back warm through out the night. Let me know how it works out for you.
Avatar universal
I can't believe what I am reading. Here it is 4:30 am and I am in extreme back and stomach pain. So bad I am shaking. This is ther worst yet. I always immediately void, since it feels like a pressure thing and my bladder is somewhat full, but come on,  this is too weird that all of us seem to have the same exact symptom. There has to be a reason for this. I too dread going to bed at night for this reason and it's not every night, but is more commonly occurring than not. I have had epidurals in my back (which has been diagnosed with stenosis and degenerative disc disease), but we all know that is a catch-all diagnosis. I am so frustrated with all these 'doctors' because I have to be the one to figure out which specialist to go to and that is why I am still at the phase of trying to figure out if t's my back, my stomach, or my kidneys/urinary track. Have ANY of you received an acceptable diagnosis???? We supposedly have the most advanced medical care and diagnostic techniques in this country, but yet no doctor can figure out this problem from such SPECIFIC symptoms???? I am too smart to accept that. There is SOMETHING wrong and I don't want that to be found during my autopsy!!

Anyone, anything?

- Educated fellow in pain
Avatar universal
Now, I am in shock. I've been suffering from the exact same symptoms for about 4 years now. Pain on waking, excrutiating to turn or move, but when I stand up and move around, it's gone! There are too many posts on here about the exact same thing for this to be going undiagnosed. I've been told it's my hip, back, urinary tract, bladder, intestines.........well, I know it's SOMETHING down there. It seems that it would be muscle or joint related because of the way the pain goes away with movement. Any internal organ problems I would think the pain would stay.
Glad I'm not the only one, I thought I was crazy!
Avatar universal
I have the same problem, for about 3 months, I wake up in the middle of the night because of a ache in my flanks. No matter what posistion I get it is still uncomfortable. At first it was on both sides, now it is mainly affecting my left. As soon as I stand up and get going for the day, the pain goes away. I went to the Dr. and my blood/urine tests came back normal. He gave me muscle relaxers for the pain, but they don't work anymore.I am going in for an X-ray to see if anything shows up. My urine is almost always cloudy no matter how much water I drink.
675246 tn?1226150447
Thank the Lord...i too, am obviously not crazy. No offence guys...but i was relieved to read all of the above! I actually thought i was about to croak it!!  I have had the above synptoms (all of them) back..front..side etc for about 3 yrs now, and i too have started to dread waking up in the morning, cos i know whats ahead of me. But once i get out of bed, and have a cuppa, and a little walk around the house...there is not a bother on me! I have an appointment with my doctor (looking for answers) on the 15th nov...il let u all know how i get on...but after reading all ur posts...i dont hold out much hope for a cure..:)
Avatar universal
I too have had the exact same problems which began approx 2months after the birth of my second child.  No back pain during pregnancy or after delivery, until about 2 months after.  My pain is in my lower back and comes on only during sleep.  As soon as I get up and around it disappears.  As tired as I am, I dread bed time, knowing I will soon awaken in extreme pain, tossing and turning all night trying to get comfortable.  No matter what position I try, it doesn't alleviate the pain.  I'm exhausted from not sleeping for the past 4 months.  Went to the doc, he prescribed Daypro which has not helped at all.  I don't want drugs to mask the pain; I want to know what is wrong with me.  I had an epidural w/ the birth of both of my children and last September I had a spinal tap followed by a blood patch (basically like an epidural where they inject blood into your dural space to patch a Cerebral Spinal Fluid leak caused from the spinal tap).  All of these "pokes" in my back were done in the exact same region of my Lumbar spine.  Cooincidentally, that is exactly where my pain radiates from every night during sleep.  I don't know if that is just cooincidence but thought I'd mention it.  The pain is so severe i can hardly roll from one side to the other.  I would describe it as a "burning" type of pain.  My doctor (who, by the way, didn't even get up off his chair to diagnose me) seems to think it is related to muscle loss due to pregnancy (although the pain didn't start until 2-3 months after the birth of my child).  He also prescribed physical therapy.  I'll let you know if it helps.  My next step is to get a different doctor and request an MRI.
Avatar universal
Has anyone ever tried Massage Therapy for the symptoms? If it is muscle related it seems to make a lot of sense to relieve the myofascial pain pattern you all seem to have. I am a Massage Therapist. I have the same symptoms right now but mine seem to be related to my pregnancy. The weight of my uterus is compressing my kidneys. Are any of you overweight?

Avatar universal
If the kidneys/ureters have shown no stone, then the possibility of a nerve compression is likely. I’ll suggest getting an MRI of the spine done to confirm the diagnosis. In case, the nerve compression is confirmed, then the further treatment will depend upon the extent of compression. The treatment can be surgical/medical depending upon the severity. I sincerely hope that helps. Take care.
Avatar universal
I am a 36 year old physician and I am going through exactly what is being described.  This is the second time over the past 5 years I have been through this 'phantom' pain.  In fact, it is currently 6am and I really would rather be sleeping (too uncomfortable).  Numerous test results returned negative last time.  So far, this time, I have only looked at urine chem (negative - even though I though the specimen looked unusually cloudy).  This week I will order blood work, microscopy and an ultrasound (which were all negative last time also...).  On a positive note:  last time this was going on I happened to be away from work for a week and the pain subsided! (really made me consider an ortho issue - similar to what Dr. Singh has described) so when I returned to work I changed both the cheap chairs I used often and paid keen attention to my posture (in front of the computer too!).  The pain went away - until about 2 weeks ago...  Now, I have been watching my posture (could probably do better) and I'm still waking up every night with the aching.  I really have to examine what I am doing each day to see if it is a situation like last time - hopefully it is that simple.  I know you are afraid - how can we not be - it's only human to imagine the potential worst case scenario, but there are lots of other less scary explanations.        
I have to say I was really, really surprised to see such familiar accounts when I read these.  I will continue to research and examine and let you know if I find out anything interesting.  For now, try to assess your activities and posture.
Avatar universal
I too experience pain in my "kidney are" upon waking. Throughout the week I get minimal sleep; five hours maximum, and waking with NO pain, but when the weekend comes, and I am sleeping more than that is when I experience this horrible pain. So, I know for a fact that the pain is directly related to sleep (for me). I first went to my MD, and was told that it is muskuloskeletal, and that Motrin should help. No dice. My left kidney is the one that hurts, and is also the one that previously had blockage (due to a rare pregnancy complication), and had a nephrostomy tube in it (tube that is inserted through the back into the kidney to carry urine to a bag attached to the leg). So, I am also VERY aware of where my kidneys are and when they are hurting, so I went to my Urologist. My Urologist told me that the pain IS my kidney, but offered my no other explanation other than possible reflux of the urine. So, here I sit seeking a "cure" online along with all of you. I am in pain, and I am frustrated, and a little scared. I don't think that pain is ever a really a good indication that something POSITIVE is happening to your body, (other than working out), so in my mind this can't be good. I want a cure. My weekends are ruined, or at the very least dented by this pain, and I am so tired of it for obvious reasons.
I wish you all pain free awakenings, and a solution to share!

Avatar universal
Count me in with the same symptoms(minor discomfort in right side upon waking x2years). However, I find that very acidic foods or beer may exacerbate the soreness in the morning. One funny thing is, sometimes if I raise up in bed, I well belch and a lot of times it resets the soreness to none...then I fall back asleep without any discomfort. All my lab tests are negative...I'm a laboratory technologist and absolutely nothing on the lab test end. I'm stumped.
Avatar universal
It's midnight, my eyes are red and the only thing I want to do is sleep.  The pain I'm feeling in my right flank worsens tremendously whenever I yawn, or I should say, attempt to yawn as it is soon cut short by this excruciating pain.  I get pain on both sides right where my kidneys are.  This pain seems to be worse on whatever side I sleep on and if I sleep on my back the pain is equal on either side.  It sometimes seems to encase my entire ribcage and I find myself unable to breathe in like I normally would.  The first 15-20 minutes that I wake up are hell.  I only get about one to two hours of sleep before I am woken up by this pain and it only seems to occur after I've been asleep for a few hours.  Once I've stood up and walked around I'm fine for the rest of the day.  I have tried different positions and the only thing that seems to relieve it is when I lie down at a 45 degree angle.  It's the only way that I can be physically lying down and not in any pain.  However, the angle is so awkward for me that I, unfortunately, can't sleep like that the entire night.  Instead, I find only a few moments in a lying down position which is comfortable to my aching flanks.

Reading all these posts is really discouraging.  My symptoms just started about five months ago and I never really thought anything serious of it.  Lately, however, I have been finding that instead of being able to finally go back to sleep I am constantly waking up every hour or two.  I've gone from being able to sleep with the pain to not being able to sleep at all.  Once I wake up and I'm in pain I'm up until it relieves itself.  It's gotten to the point that I was ready to make an appointment with my doctor, but I'm not sure if I should do so now.  I came on here to see if there was any cause I could find in relation to my pain but I've found only more questions and no answers.  Although discouraged I think I'll make an appointment tomorrow and see if my doctor can't figure this out.  If not a name for this or a reason as to why I have it then at least some kind of treatment that will make my sleep somewhat tolerable.
1150388 tn?1261924096
I too have the same symptoms, pain that will drive you out of bed after 5-6 hours of sleep, but was having more problems with leg pain so I was trying to find a cure for that and back and side pain was on the back burner as to what it was, I was then diagnose with congenital spinal stenosis of the lumbar, which my doctor when ask said; that the back pain was from the spinal stenosis and would all be relieved with surgery, so I had a complete lumbar Laminectumy L1 - L5 and relieved all my leg pain, but after 5 months since the surgery walking is great but still have the flank and back pain after 5-6 hours of sleep less than 6 hours I can wake with little to no pain, as soon as I am up and about the pain subsides and I feel fine. I know the spinal surgery helped as the leg pain is gone completely but why do I still have the flank pain when I sleep?      
Avatar universal
Same here.  I wake up with pain upon sleep more than 5 hours.  I am certain it's not the mattress coz it's the time when I travel around for business.  I will be going to physiotherapy next week.
Avatar universal
I am also a bit surprised with the kind of pain which you are going through and it remains undiagnosed for so long. It could possibly be the pain of kidney stone as per the description of the nature of pain. I’ll suggest getting a CT-IVU done as it’s the most sensitive test for the diagnosis of a kidney stone compared to an MRI. The MRI is a good test to pick up any neurological problem like a disc disease (disc herniation) which compresses the nerves. These 2 are the most likely possibilities and the third possibility is lumbar strain but this should not last so long. A CT of the abdomen and pelvis should pick up the diagnosis. An ovarian pathology also needs to be ruled out. I sincerely hope that helps. Take care.
Avatar universal
kidney pain  in sleep time .pleace tell me someting to help me
Avatar universal
I have the same issue. Its starts out when I have just fallen asleep and wake up with horrible pain in my adominal area. It wakes me up and I am in such pain that I sometimes I wake up from crying or moaning b/c of the pain. I have no idea what to do. I have Fibro and interstitial cystitis. I am just like all of you, I have so  many health issues that its hard to tell what may be causing and not to mention that medication that I am on already as well as all the tests. It does give me comfort to know that I am not alone and that this is something that others deal with. Best Wishes to everyone!
Avatar universal
Since everyone is having the similar problem lets Ask/answer some questions we believe might be related.

1. Age/sex

2. How long have you experienced the pains?

3. What kind of pain (duration, intensity, location, Rate on a scale from 1-10, 1 being no pain at all 10 being the worst pain imaginable.

4. Is there something you do commonly the day before you have pain. (work out, drink alcohol, be lazy, drink little fluids, it can be anything)

5. What is your sleeping position? (side, back, curled, head pillow, pillow between legs)

6. Do you have back problems?

7. How is your posture during waking hours?

8. How much do you urinate the mornings you wake with pain? (none, little, moderate, alot)

These are some questions I've thought could be related to the problems. If there's other questions you think could help in finding a commonality between us the better. Just copy and paste and place 9. (your question) at the bottom.
Avatar universal
1. Age/sex 22/F

2. How long have you experienced the pains? 10+ years thought it was something normal since it's happened as long as I can remember. Happens 6-8 times a month, not able to return to sleep afterward

3. What kind of pain (duration, intensity, location, Rate on a scale from 1-10, 1 being no pain at all 10 being the worst pain imaginable, how long does it last) Constant dull throbbing that begins on my mid flanks on both sides and radiates over the entire flank to my lower rib. Rate: 8 Last 30mins - 1hr

4. Is there something you do commonly the day before you have pain. (work out, drink alcohol, be lazy, drink little fluids, it can be anything)  Nothing I can think of.

5. What is your sleeping position? (side, back, curled, head pillow, pillow between legs) Both sides through the night curled pillow under head and a body pillow that I hug and place between my knees.

6. Do you have back problems if so describe? No

7. How is your posture during waking hours? Slouch most of my day

8. How much do you urinate the mornings you wake with pain? (none, little, moderate, alot) More often alot, but sometimes little. 5:1 ratio

9. What alleviates your pain? Getting out of bed and moving around, I always immediately urinate first thing, it doesn't really help. I think it may be the location of the pain that leads me to think it will help, but also this is a norm for every morning just usually not something I feel I the need to do immediately after arousing.

10. (Any common Medical questions from those of you that have seen doctors?)
Avatar universal
Crazy that this many people have the same problem and no definitive answer.

1. Age/sex    M/43

2. How long have you experienced the pains?  3 days

3. What kind of pain (duration, intensity, location, Rate on a scale from 1-10, 1 being no pain at all 10 being the worst pain imaginable.   8  Mid flank on both sides at the bottom ribs (not below) flowing to my back . Most severe pain is sharp and is in the flank and right under both shoulder blades.

4. Is there something you do commonly the day before you have pain. (work out, drink alcohol, be lazy, drink little fluids, it can be anything)  Started 3 days ago after lifting a lawn mower out of a van. I also received a new office chair on this day as well. Pain is definitely triggered by sleep.

5. What is your sleeping position? (side, back, curled, head pillow, pillow between legs) Normally on my side.

6. Do you have back problems? Infrequent lower back pain.

7. How is your posture during waking hours? Mostly sitting in office chair

8. How much do you urinate the mornings you wake with pain? (none, little, moderate, alot)  Same as any other day. Normal amount.

These are some questions I've thought could be related to the problems. If there's other questions you think could help in finding a commonality between us the better. Just copy and paste and place 9. (your question) at the bottom.
Avatar universal
9. Forgot this one. Relieved by getting out of bed for sure. Further relief from a hot shower and use of Icyhot and heating pad, at least as far as the back pain. The flank pain lingers for hours after waking up, at about a 3 level of pain.
Avatar universal
I too have most of those symtoms. Mine was diagnosed as fibromyalgia, with s-1 thru l5 degenerative disc disease and also had 2 kidney stones. I am going to have lithotripsy done on the 15th. I also have titanium in my back now. still having the same pains though!! Mine r not stopping thru the day sometimes til early morning then stopping. Tests after test show nothing else! We need a qualified Dr. not someone to come in for 5 mins and give out candy meds to cover this!!
Avatar universal
I have since been to a chiropractor and am encouraged that a course of therapy will be helpful to me. I am also following a very organic fruit and vegetable diet in an effort to detox my body and let the body heal itself. The pain upon waking up is still happening, but it is less severe and does not last as long. My recovery may be coincidental to the new diet, but hey you never know. It is something you may want to consider. I think a visit to the chiropractor may do wonders as well.
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