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Back Pain vs. Kidney Pain – How To Tell the Difference

How can you tell the difference between back pain and kidney pain? The location and type of pain can help you figure out if you should see a spine doctor or have your kidneys checked. Also, accompanying symptoms can give you a clue as well.

back pain vs kidney pain - how to tell the difference

Back Pain or Kidney Pain? Here are Some Clues…

Back Pain

Kidney Pain

Location of Pain

Problems with the spine can result in neck pain, upper or middle back pain or lower back pain. Spine problems can also result in shooting pain down your arms or legs. The kidneys are located each side of your body, around the middle of your back. Kidney pain is usually located on either side of the spine (or both sides), just below your rib cage. Kidney pain may also spread to the abdomen or groin area.

Type of Pain

Back pain or neck pain can be a dull pain or sharp shooting pains down your arms and legs as in sciatica. A kidney infection causes a dull constant pain on the sides of your back. A kidney stone will cause a sharp pain in your abdomen that typically gets worse as it travels down to the urethra.

Is the Pain Constant or Does it Come and Go?

Back pain can come and go. The pain may ease while sitting, get worse while changing positions and can get triggered by sudden movements like sneezing. An infection of the kidneys can cause a dull, constant pain. This pain will typically not change with movement.

Does the Pain Ease with Time?

Many spine problems related to an injury, repeated motion or posture will ease over time. Unless the kidney pain is related to kidney stones which pass, kidney pain doesn’t typically go away on its own.

Other Symptoms

Besides pain, spine problems typically don’t cause other symptoms. If back pain is your only symptom your issue is more likely due to your spine or back muscles. If you have other symptoms like a fever, urinary discoloration or discomfort, dizziness, fatigue, bowel problems, nausea, or vomiting your pain could be a kidney problem and you should see a doctor immediately.

If you’re suffering from middle back pain and wondering back pain vs. kidney pain, the clues above can help you make an educated guess about the cause of your pain. But, a kidney infection can be serious. If you have any question it’s best to see a doctor.

 

References

 

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery