Back Pain and Kidney Problems

Back pain can come from a variety of possible causes. Typically it results from spine or muscle issues. But sometimes, neither of these is the real source of your discomfort.

The trouble may, in fact, be a kidney problem. A kidney infection or a kidney stone can, literally, bring a grown man to his knees. I know. It has happened to me more than once.

So how do you know whether your back pain comes from a spinal or muscular injury versus a renal problem?

Location is your first clue. Kidney pain usually happens in the “flank” region, which is just below the bottom of your rib cage. You’ll feel the pain in your back, but it won’t be along the spinal column – it will be more toward your side.

Pain caused by renal problems often comes on quickly – as the saying goes, you “don’t know what hit you.”

Kidney stones sometimes cause back pain when they move from the kidneys down to the bladder. But they can also cause a blockage in the ureters, which are the slender tubes connecting the bladder and kidneys.

Besides back pain, one common symptom of a kidney stone or kidney infection include darker than average urine. A burning sensation is also typical, and you’re likely feel the need to urinate more often than usual. Pain sometimes radiates around the side, into the abdomen, and in men, all the way down to the testicles.

Kidney stones sometimes pass out of your body when you urinate, especially if you drink a lot of water. When this happens, it’s truly a blessing. Discomfort stops immediately.

Happily, as painful as they can be, they’re generally not life threatening.

But a kidney infection, left untreated, can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure. This is extremely serious.

There are two categories of kidney infections. There’s glomerulonephritis, which can be acute or chronic, and pyelonephritis, which is an inflammation of one or both kidneys that can be acute, relapsing or chronic.

Therefore, if you even suspect your back pain is coming from kidney stones or a kidney infection, it’s best to call a doctor right away.

Ways to Relieve Back Pain from a Kidney Problem

As I mentioned above, I’ve suffered through a number of kidney stones. Several times, I didn’t even know one was there, and the stone passed peacefully. But I’ve also been hospitalized twice to have stones removed. It’s not fun, although new procedures, like shock wave therapy, have been developed that make you much less uncomfortable than the old removal methods.

Back pain from kidney problems can be especially difficult to relieve. Your doctor can give you pain killers, but honestly, not much has worked very well for me except Percodan, which is pretty powerful stuff (and possibly addictive).

A hot shower may help. I’ve also gotten some relief by lying face up in a bathtub full of warm water. No doctor has ever suggested doing this, but it has helped me. I think it might relieve some of the pressure from gravity pushing down on a stone when it’s lodged in the ureter.

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