Potential causes of back flank pain

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The flank is the area on the sides of the body in between the inferior rib and hip bone including the front and back part of the torso. It is commonly referred to as the side. It is important to note that the pain can radiate to the back or flank due to an issue with any of the neighboring organs or it can occur due to a neuromuscular condition.


Shingles or herpes zoster can affect anyone who had the chickenpox virus. The painful rash is the reactivation of the virus that has been dormant within certain nerve roots in the body. Individuals over 50 years old or those who have weakened immune systems face a higher risk of developing shingles. The condition often starts with tingling, burning and pain on one side of the body, often on the flank. The back flank pain is usually present 2-3 days before the rash manifests. The rash is comprised of very painful clusters or blisters of reddened skin. The miniature vesicles of the rash secrete discharge and eventually form crusts. The rashes typically resolve within 2-4 weeks. Some individuals can experience post herpetic neuralgia which is a painful condition that typically clears up in 1-3 months.

Once the kidney stones reach the upper ureter or kidney, the pain is often felt on the affected side in the middle back and radiates to the flank and abdomen.

Spinal compression fracture

A compression fracture in the spine involves the collapse of the vertebral bone. Oftentimes, these fractures cause no symptoms at all or might trigger pain when the individual engages in certain activities such as walking. Take note that this is true if the fractures have a slow onset.

Once they occur abruptly, the individual experiences back flank pain. In addition, osteoporosis is considered as the most common cause of compression fractures. Tumors and trauma are also possible causes of this type of fracture.

Kidney stones

The presence of kidney stones or renal calculi is small-sized debris of crystals that form in the urine. These are usually comprised of calcium oxalate crystals but oftentimes consist of other types of crystals.

The small-sized stones can pass via the urinary tract unnoticed. As for larger stones, they can cause intense pain when moving via the ureters or if they cause blockage. Once the stones reach the upper ureter or kidney, the pain is often felt on the affected side in the middle back and radiates to the flank and abdomen. Other symptoms include nausea, sweating and vomiting. In some individuals, there is blood in the urine and might even notice a stone.

Depending on the exact cause of the back flank pain, it is best to schedule an appointment with a doctor if the pain persists or does not seem to subside for several days. The doctor can determine the exact cause of the pain and provide a diagnosis.

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