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Kidney Pain Vs. Back Pain | How To Tell The Difference

Kidney Pain Vs. Back Pain | How To Tell The Difference

While 80 percent of adults report back pain at least once, sometimes you might confuse kidney pain as back pain.

Feeling some kind of pain in your back could be due to a number of reasons. What you might not realize is that sometimes your back pain can be more than a problem with your spine. It might actually be caused by your kidneys or vice versa. It's tough to distinguish between the two if you're unsure of the differences, especially because of the location of your kidneys.

Your kidneys sit in the back of your abdomen. With one on each side of your spine, your kidneys come right under your lower ribs, according to Mayo Clinic. And because of this, it can be hard to tell whether you're having kidney pain or back pain. Back pain, however, is extremely common. It is something that roughly 80 percent of people experience at least once in their lives, according to NIH (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke).

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But how can tell the difference between the cause of the pain to find a solution? Here are a few factors to watch out for.

Location of the pain

If it's kidney pain...

If what you're experiencing is actually kidney pain, then you should be feeling the pain in your lower back, and on either side of your spine, according to Medical News Today. Sometimes the condition might affect just one kidney or both kidneys, and depending on this, you might experience pain on one side or both sides of your body. You could feel the pain move to other areas like your sides, your abdomen, your groin, and your thighs.

If it's kidney pain, you might also get the sensation that the pain is coming all the way from inside your body rather than the surface.

But if it's back pain...

Back pain is more common than kidney pain. It can be caused due to a number of reasons. It is most commonly felt in your lower back, but can also be felt in other areas of your back as well. It might feel like a shooting or stabbing kind of pain, sometimes radiating all the way down to your leg.

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The pain may differ depending on what's causing it. You might feel a burning sensation in your lower back and buttocks if it's caused by sciatica, while you might feel a dull ache or soreness if it's muscle pain. At times you might notice that everyday activities like heavy lifting and sitting/standing for too long make you experience back pain. 

Causes

For kidney pain

Medical conditions that cause kidney pain include kidney stones, Polycystic kidney disease, Hydronephrosis  (swelling of the kidney caused by a backup of urine), and a kidney infection. It can also be experienced in case of hemorrhage (bleeding in the kidney) or renal vein thrombosis (blood clots in kidney veins). If there is a cyst, tumor, or cancer present in your kidney, this can also lead to experiencing kidney pain.

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For the common conditions that lead to kidney pain, you might also experience other symptoms like dizziness, fatigue, nausea, fever, constipation, or diarrhea. You would also notice that you feel the urge to pee more frequently. In addition to the pain, if you also notice that your urine is cloudy or had a tinge of orange or red due to blood, it's a sign to get your kidneys checked.

For back pain

When it comes to back pain, factors like sprains, fractures, obesity, and even bad posture can be causes. Back pain can also be a symptom of severe medical conditions like sciatica, osteoporosis, arthritis, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, herniated disk, and conditions affecting the kidney like kidney stones and kidney infection.

For the common conditions that lead to back pain, you might also notice other symptoms like weakness in one or both of your legs. You may face difficulties walking and have muscle spasms of pain while standing up. There might be stiffness along your spine and sharp pain in your neck. Conditions affecting back pain can also lead to urinary issues. You might feel discomfort in emptying the bladder or find that you are not able to control your urge to go to the bathroom.

If you experience kidney pain or back pain, especially along with the other accompanying symptoms, seek medical help to find out what is causing it and to get yourself the right treatment.

References:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/kidney-pain/basics/definition/sym-20050902
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324969.php
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Low-Back-Pain-Fact-Sheet
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/back-pain/symptoms-causes/syc-20369906
https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/kidney-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050902
https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/back-pain/basics/causes/sym-20050878

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.