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What Are the Causes of Right Flank Pain?

author image Martin Hughes
Martin Hughes is a chiropractic physician, health writer and the co-owner of a website devoted to natural footgear. He writes about health, fitness, diet and lifestyle. Hughes earned his Bachelor of Science in kinesiology at the University of Waterloo and his doctoral degree from Western States Chiropractic College in Portland, Ore.
What Are the Causes of Right Flank Pain?
Many conditions can cause right flank pain.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, right-sided flank pain may be caused by direct trauma, problems with the abdominal organs and other medical conditions. Structures outside the flank -- the area between the lower ribs and the hip bone, on the side of the torso -- may refer, or send, pain to the side of the body. Flank pain can range from mild to severe, depending on the cause of the pain.

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Adrenal Gland Tumor

According to -- an online resource featuring oncologist-approved cancer information from the American Society of Clinical Oncology -- the adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and are comprised of two distinct parts: the cortex and the medulla. Among the most common types of primary adrenal gland tumors, or tumors that manifest within the adrenal glands, are adenomas, adrenocortical carcinomas, neuroblastomas and pheochromocytomas. states that primary adrenal gland tumors are rare, and usually develop in people between the ages of 45 and 50. Women are more commonly affected than men. Symptoms associated with adrenal gland tumors include abdominal and flank pain, elevated blood pressure, unexplained weight loss, weakness, excessive hair growth, changes in libido, nervousness and anxiety.

Polycystic Kidney Disease states that polycystic kidney disease is a condition in which clusters of cysts -- noncancerous fluid-filled sacs--form in the kidneys. Although the kidneys are usually the most severely affected organ, cysts can develop in other organs too. Common signs associated with polycystic kidney disease include elevated blood pressure, back and flank pain, headache, increased abdominal girth, blood in the urine, frequent urination, kidney stones, kidney failure and urinary tract infections. According to, two of the most dangerous complications associated with polycystic kidney disease are high blood pressure and loss of kidney function. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease and stroke, while loss of kidney function can mean long-term kidney dialysis or a kidney transplant to prolong life.

Side Stitch

According to the Sports Injury Bulletin website, side stitches, also known as exercise-related transient abdominal pains, are common among athletes, including soccer and rugby players, swimmers, runners, horse riders, aerobics enthusiasts and basketball players. Dr. Gabe Mirkin states that side stitches occur when the ligaments that attach the liver to the diaphragm become stretched or damaged. Side stitch-related pain is usually felt just below the ribs, although some people may experience a stabbing pain at the tip of the shoulder blade on the affected side. In some cases, side stitch pain can mimic the pain of a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. Changing breathing patterns, strengthening the abdominal muscles, and avoiding food and water prior to activity may help reduce the likelihood of a side stitch. Approximately 65 to 70 percent of side stitches occur on the right side of the abdomen, according to the Sports Injury Bulletin website.

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