The kidneys' function is to filter the blood and remove excess water and waste products, processing around two hundred litres of blood every day to make around two litres of urine. The kidneys allow a wide diet with varying chemical make up without permitting toxic build up of waste products and have an important role in regulation of salt levels such as potassium, sodium and calcium.
Chronic Kidney Disease
Chronic kidney disease results from a slow and non-reversible loss of kidney function as time goes on. There are five stages of chronic kidney disease with the worst, stage five, being kidney failure or end stage renal or kidney disease. Kidney failure usually requires dialysis or a kidney transplant for the person to remain alive.
Acute Kidney Disease
Acute kidney failure typically occur much more rapidly, in weeks or even days, in reaction to something which interferes with the blood flow to the organ, the flow of urine from it or has a direct affect on the organ itself (e.g. kidney infection). Acute kidney disease may result in some damage to the kidney but most people regain full function, with a small number having longer term problems and progressing to chronic disease.
Kidney pain is not a typical presentation of kidney disease although kidney pain symptoms such as kidney ache may be present during kidney infection. Kidney stones may give very severe pain from spasms in the ureter (tube from kidney to bladder) and this pain may start without warning and come in waves.
Lower back pain problems can give pain in the flank and back areas where kidney pain presents and the two conditions need to be separated on assessment. A physiotherapist can help with this and treat any musculoskeletal part of the problem.
Kidney pain – alcohol may be an issue for kidney conditions but is not recorded as a cause of pain, although kidney pain can present in other areas such as the abdomen like stomach pain in some cases.