When it comes to kidney and back pain, some people aren’t sure which is which. This isn’t all too surprising. Since the kidney is in the back, sometimes the pains can be similar. A stabbing pain, a tightness in that particular area – nobody is sure. To make matters worse, the kidney is placed where the back usually hurts. At the lower parts of your back.
So how can you tell which is which? How can you tell the difference between kidney and back pain? Here’s a list of things you can look out for, to find the difference between kidney and back pain.
1. Location of the Pain
Again, the problem with kidney and back pain is that their area is similar. However, kidney pain has a deeper form of pain. The pain penetrates through your back and sometimes climbs up to your ribs. Other times, it reaches all the way to your inner thigh. Some kidney pain includes abdominal pain due to its swelling pressing against the stomach.
For back pain, often times this occurs when you’re trying to move in a certain direction. Whereas, kidney pain is a chronic pain. It will last awhile. Also, kidney pain has a sharp stabbing pain if for kidney stones or a dull pain for an infection.
2. Accompanying Symptoms
For back pain, your main symptom would be having difficulty bending over. Or when walking, there is a feeling that your back is frozen. Sometimes, that kind of back pain can be caused by sleeping with an aircon blowing directly on your back. Or, it can also be caused by sleeping on top of a wet towel. Back pains can also occur due to bone problems such as scoliosis or osteoporosis.
Kidney pain, on the other hand, has a variety of other symptoms accompanying it. Since the kidney is involved in the detoxification of your body, it often involves urination. Some symptoms include:
- Painful urination: Painful urination can be caused by a blockage in the urethra where there are kidney stones. These small kidney stones look like gravel and are often caused by a high salt diet or a high calcium diet which causes calcification.
- Blood in urine: Blood in the urine because either the kidney is not
- Cloudy urine
- Uncontrollable urge to urinate
- Nausea or vomiting: Nausea occurs due to the infection and your blood is trying to get rid of it. And because the kidneys can’t do the job, the body decides to go for other means. This usually involves heavy vomiting. This is a means to get rid of the toxins that flood the body.
3. Spreading of the pain
When it’s a simple muscle pain, the pain will only stay in the area that hurts. For in this case, if it’s a muscle pain in the back, it will stay only in the back. That’s because the damage is in the muscle tissue themselves. However, kidneys involve a different kind of pain. Because kidneys involve bodily fluid, it will travel all throughout the body. Sometimes, the infection will not just be at the kidney area but can soon move to the stomach.
4. How the pain reacts
When it’s a muscle pain, often times the pain occurs when there’s movement. And since it’s from the back, it can come from walking or sometimes simply shifting position. Muscle pain is often caused by either tears or stiffening of the muscles. Other times, it’s caused by physical trauma done by physical activity.
Kidney pain does not change no matter how many times one’s position is changed. The pain may sometimes increase especially if one moves. Or, the pain intensifies especially during urination. The urination causes the kidney to react and if there are infections may increase the severity of the infection or the problem.
Often times the medication will show what kind of pain it is. For back pain, these can often be dealt with painkillers. Some even use topical painkillers in order to soothe the pain. And normally for muscle pain, back pains go away after applying such medications. However, kidney pain doesn’t just go away from painkillers. In fact, those medications can sometimes make the infection worse. Medicines can further damage your kidneys if not careful.
With that, these are the differences between kidney and back pain. However, if you feel that the pain is getting worse – don’t self-medicate. Sometimes, the best way to find the source of the pain is to go to a doctor. Googling your symptoms can just lead to heighten one’s anxiety and depression especially if it’s the wrong diagnosis.
- Andersson, G. B. (1999). Epidemiological features of chronic low-back pain. The lancet, 354(9178), 581-585.
- Fairbank, J. C., Couper, J., Davies, J. B., & O’brien, J. P. (1980). The Oswestry low back pain disability questionnaire. Physiotherapy, 66(8), 271-273.
- Hogan, M. C., & Norby, S. M. (2010). Evaluation and management of pain in autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. Advances in chronic kidney disease, 17(3), e1-e16.
- Torres, V. E., Chapman, A. B., Devuyst, O., Gansevoort, R. T., Grantham, J. J., Higashihara, E., … & Czerwiec, F. S. (2012). Tolvaptan in patients with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease. New England Journal of Medicine, 367(25), 2407-2418.
- Wüthrich, R. P., & Mei, C. (2010). Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD), the most common hereditary kidney disease, progresses relentlessly to end-stage kid-ney disease before the age of 60 years in half the. J Med, 363, 820-9.