Flank pain

Everyone from time to time meets with a flank pain. This feeling is usually very unpleasant and often times also very limiting. Causes for side pain are various. You can usually solve the less serious ones yourself, however there are situations in which you should not wait to see your doctor.

Similarly it is by different parts of the body, flank pain can also have different manifestations. It can be pressing or stabbing pain, the pain can remain for a long time, or it can even occur in sudden pain attacks. Another important detection is whether the cause is somatic (concerning the musculoskeletal system), or whether the pain is usually sharp and well localized. During disease of internal organs (visceral pain) the pain is usually dull and harder to locate.


Pain in the side may have various causes. Very often it is connected to traumatic injuries (ruptured muscle, rib fracture, spleen rupture…) as a result of impact in the affected area, after falling down or uncoordinated movement. This pain is usually easily located and is sensitive on touch. At the same time, we should be conscious about the situation, which explains the pain to a certain degree. These pains are usually also connected to blocked thoracic spine or ribs.


These kinds complications often occurs during walking or running. The pain is caused by a contraction of the spleen (pain in the right side) or liver (pain in the left side) during a need of bigger amount of blood elements considering the actual consumption, which are supplied in spleen and livers. Some theories ascribe the cause of the stabbing pain in the flank to insufficient fixation of the abdominal cavity due to lowered function of the external abdominal oblique muscles and abdominal transverse muscles. That results in painful stretching of the ligaments which are fixing the livers and spleen.

More about stabbing pain in the side while running.


Pain in the side can be caused by damaged internal organs, whether from abdominal cavity or thoracic cavity. Sometimes it is very difficult to specifically diagnose what exactly is causing the complications. Pain in the left side is usually caused by spleen or kidney diseases such as inflammation or kidney stones (occuring problems also during urination). In the right side it can be caused by inflammation of the appendix or liver diseases. Gynecological problems such as cyst on the ovary, ectopic pregnancy or endometriosis can also cause pain in the side. Of course we can’t forget to mention side pain as a result of disease affecting the digestive system such as stomach ulcers, peptic ulcers, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or just constipation. Last but not least, we have to exclude lung inflammation or embolism.


Pain should not be ignored, because in some cases of this problem (especially by a sudden abdominal incidents) it is necessary to act fast. For example during inflammation of the appendix it is important to immediately go for a surgical solution. In case you visited your doctor who based on the clinical examinations haven’t found any problems in the area of the internal organs, according to laboratory examination there are no present signs of inflammation (increased sedimentation, higher number of white blood cells, increased c-reactive protein) and examination with imaging methods (X-ray, ultrasound, magnetic resonance) also doesn’t show anything, and your problems persist, it is ideal to get complexive kinesiological examination. Physiotherapist is able to examine if your problem can be caused by a blockage of the spine or ribs, herniated discs, or just “simple” muscle imbalance, alternately wrong breathing stereotype.

Author: FYZIOklinika physiotherapy Ltd., Prague, Czech Republic
Source: KRÁLOVÁ, V. Bolest v boku [online]. c2012 [cit. 2015­10­08]. http://cs.medixa.org/priznaky/bolest­v­boku.

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