What Causes Flank Pain and How to Treat It

What causes flank pain?

Flank pain is caused by inflammation of muscles, tendons, ligaments and other connective tissues in the lower back (lumbar spine). It may also occur at the front of your neck or even on your face. Other possible causes include:

• Back injuries such as sprains, strains or tears.

• Muscular tension or tightness in the lumbar region.

• Ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the spine.

• Rheumatoid arthritis, which affects the joints of your upper body. It may cause pain in different parts of your back including your hips, knees and ankles.

How do I treat flank pain?

If you have flank pain, it is important to take care of it immediately. You need to see a doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms like severe burning or stabbing pains in your back, neck or face. If these are persistent and bothersome then they indicate that there is something wrong with your spine. Your doctor will likely order X-rays and/or MRI scans to rule out other conditions that could be causing the problem. Once these tests are done, you may be prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen to relieve your pain and fever. Acetaminophen may also be used to alleviate your pain and/or fever. Your doctor might also prescribe low doses of corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone to reduce any inflammation in your body.

If your flank pain is caused by an injury, you must rest to allow your body to heal properly. If you suspect that your pain is being caused by muscular tension or tightness in your lower back, you could visit a physical therapist or chiropractor to receive a massage and/or treatment. You should also do stretching exercises for your back. A health professional can also assist and advise you about this.

If your flank pain is more severe, you might need to wear a back brace to immobilize your spine until it heals. In rare cases, surgery may be required to repair any damage to your spine. For instance, if you have suffered a herniated disk or slipped disk, the surgeon will remove the disk material that is putting pressure on your sciatic nerve. They may also fuse your vertebrae together with a bone graft to provide more stability to your spine.

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