The Link Between Back Pain and Kidney Damage
Differentiating back or kidney pain can be tough, Credits: Wallpaper Flare
Your back aches yet you don’t recall hurting it and the painkiller doesn’t seem to help kidney pain vs back pain. Could it be due to kidney damage?
Possibly, and almost certainly, if you experience other symptoms.
The kidneys flush out excess fluid and waste products from the bloodstream. It rests on either side of the body just underneath the rib cage.
The kidneys sit against the back muscles, which can make it difficult to distinguish between kidney pain vs back pain.
While trying to determine whether the pain is from the back or kidneys, you need to consider the:
Cause of the pain
Location of the pain
Type and severity of the pain
Kidney Pain vs Back Pain
The kidneys filter out toxins and waste from the bloodstream, which makes them susceptible to damage and infection.
Excess oxalate, phosphorus and calcium can accumulate in the kidneys to form kidney stones. This can be painful if they cause a blockage.
On the other hand, back pain is very common. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, nearly 80 percent of adults experience lower back pain at some point in their lives.
Causes of kidney pain include:
Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Blood clots in the kidneys
UTI Agar is used for identification of urinary tract infections microorganisms, Credits: Commons wikimedia
Injury to the kidneys
A common cause of back pain is straining a muscle or ligament in the back. This can happen due to overstretching, using incorrect lifting techniques or lifting too much weight.
Other causes of back pain are:
Injuries to the back
Dislocated or ruptured discs
Abnormal curvature of the spine
Other medical conditions that may lead to back pain are:
Inflammatory diseases, like spondylitis and arthritis
Cancer of the spine
Cauda equina syndrome (compressed nerves at the spinal cord base)
Abdominal aortic aneurysm
Kidneys position in the human body, Credits: Commons wikimedia
Kidney pain occurs underneath the rib cage on either side of the spine. It may also feel as though the pain is coming from deep within the body.
You may experience pain on one or both sides of the body depending on whether only one or both kidneys are affected.
On the other hand, back pain can occur anywhere in the back. But most people experience pain in their lower back.
Type and Severity of Pain
Small kidney stones often pass through the kidney to the ureters without causing much pain. But larger stones can cause a sharp, intense pain that usually worsens when the stone moves through the urinary tract.
A kidney infection can cause soreness or a dull ache that remains stable.
Back pain feels like a dull ache or soreness. Certain body movements can prompt or worsen back pain, the intensity of which can vary from mild to severe and may alter due to stretching.
Some might experience a stabbing or burning sensation that travels to other areas of the body.
Back pain can also result from vertebral fractures or an irregularly shaped spine. This type of pain develops suddenly. It ranges from moderate to severe pain and generally worsens due to movement.
Kidney pain can radiate to other areas of the body, like:
Sciatica is a type of nerve pain that affects the back. It develops when the sciatic nerve becomes compressed or pinched, causing a burning sensation in the lower back that radiates to the buttocks.
Nerve pain can also spread to your lower leg. Back pain due to a muscle usually stays in the back.
Urine problems are often linked to kidney damage, Credits: Commons wikimedia
Conditions that affect the kidneys can lead to symptoms, like:
Bloody or cloudy urine
Persistent need to urinate
Nausea and vomiting
Diarrhoea or constipation
Signs of severe kidney damage include:
Shortness of breath
Swelling of ankles, feet or legs
Symptoms that can accompany back pain are:
Stiffness along the spine
Sharp, stabbing pain in the neck
Hard to stand up straight
Tingling or numbness in the back
Weakness in the legs
Inability to empty the bladder
Loss of control over urination
Constipation or diarrhoea
If you face any of these symptoms, or if your pain is unbearable, you should visit the doctor right away.