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Can A Kidney Infection Cause Lower Back Pain

Location Of Kidney Infection

Is my Back Pain due to a Kidney problem? – Dr. Prashanth Jain

Kidney infections typically emanate pain from a certain location in your body. Your kidneys are located toward your back, directly above your hips and to the sides of your spine. If you suffer a direct injury or blunt trauma to this area of your back, you could do significant damage to the kidneys themselves. If struck in this area, the blow is referred to colloquially as a kidney punch. Kidney infection pain does often masquerade as back pain, so it is important to know the exact location of kidneys and be able to isolate the pains location. An injured back typically does not respond to increased pressure on the kidneys. If your kidney area is extremely sensitive and the entirety of your back is not uncomfortable, that may be an indication of an infection. If you are still unsure, visit your doctors office so that they may conduct an X-ray or ultrasound to decipher the origin of your pain, and to search the kidneys for possible stones and blockage.

Treatments For Kidney Infections

Kidney infections in men or women will typically require antibiotics. While home remedies exist, donât rely on them alone to take care of kidney infections. Delayed treatment can result in a very serious blood infection called sepsis.

Usually, doctors will prescribe empiric antibiotics to cover all the bases of potential bacteria that initially caused the infection until they can target the specific bacteria causing the infection.

A variety of available antibiotics are usually prescribed for at least a full week. Normally, you wonât require a stay at a hospital for a kidney infection if you can move around and consistently keep down oral antibiotics.

Suppose you exhibit severe symptoms, including kidney infection symptoms or back pain, or cannot keep down the medication due to constant vomiting. In that case, you may be hospitalized so that your doctor may administer antibiotics and fluids intravenously. Pregnant women are most at risk of needing such additional care, and may be recommended to stay in the hospital for careful monitoring.

Other people who may require hospital stays due to kidney infections include those with sickle cell anemia, people aged 60 or over, patients in severe pain, and those experiencing severe vomiting. In addition, if the kidney infection progresses enough to create an abscess in the kidney, you may require more serious treatment.

When To See Your Gp

See your GP if you have a fever and persistent tummy, lower back or genital pain, or if you notice a change to your usual pattern of urination.

Most kidney infections need prompt treatment with antibiotics to stop the infection from damaging the kidneys or spreading to the bloodstream. You may also need painkillers.

If you’re especially vulnerable to the effects of an infection for example, if you have a pre-existing health condition or are pregnant, you may be admitted to hospital and treated with antibiotics through an intravenous drip.

After taking antibiotics, you should feel completely better after about two weeks.

In rare cases, a kidney infection can cause further problems. These include blood poisoning and a build-up of pus in the kidney called an abscess.

Read more about treating a kidney infection and the complications of a kidney infection

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A Back Pain You Cant Ignore

An upper UTI can cause intense back pain as the infection reaches the kidneys. People will get pain in the lower back and groin area. Back pain comes with two other symptoms: high fever and vomiting. Upper infections happen when a lower UTI goes unchecked or does not respond to antibiotics. These infections are serious and, in severe cases, need hospitalization. If not managed well, the infection can spread to the renal artery and blood, which is life-threatening.

Take The Signs Seriously

Kidney Pain In Back Location

UTIs can happen at almost any age in women and at an elderly age in men. Researchers are still searching for the root cause. Until then, take preventative measures to reduce the chances of the condition. For people suspecting a UTI, seek help from a doctor. If the symptoms evolve into back pain, the kidneys are infected. At that point, get medical treatment immediately.

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What Causes A Kidney Infection

The commonest cause of kidney infection is the bacteria called E coli . The mode of infection is ascending of the germ from the anogenital area.

The urinary system includes the kidneys, ureters , urinary bladder, and the urethra . These bacteria can enter the urinary tract via the urethra. The infection can occur during sexual intercourse or because of poor hygiene habits after bowel movements. On entering the urethra, the bacteria can migrate upwards to infect the bladder and the kidneys . Although pyelonephritis is rarer than cystitis, it is a serious condition and needs prompt medical management. Kidney infections can even occur in the absence of a bladder infection. This may be seen in conditions, such as kidney stones , and with weak immunity, such as diabetes and HIV.

Kidney Pain Vs Back Pain Treatment

Back pain treatment differs significantly from kidney pain treatment, owing to their vastly different causes.

Pain in the back is treated using pain relieving medications along with several types of physical therapy. These include massage therapy, heat therapy, and cold therapy. Rarely, cases of back pain are severe enough to require surgical intervention.

Kidney pain treatment occurs once the source for its occurrence has been located. Kidney stones will employ the use of pain medication along with increased amounts of water ingestion to accelerate the kidney stone. Surgery may be required in cases of particularly large kidney stones. In cases of infection, antibiotics are favored to help eradicate the bacterial infection.

Difference between kidney pain and lower back pain
SYMPTOMS/SIGNS

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How To Identify Kidney Pain

In some cases, back pain may subside when you move, while kidney pain tends to be a constant ache.

So if youre able to shift your body and the pain lessens or goes away, it may be back pain.

If you are experiencing lower back pain, you can probably rule out kidney pain.

The kidneys are located higher up in the back.

Kidney pain tends to be in the mid-to-upper back region on the sides, not in the center.

Still think your pain may be in your kidneys?

Here are some key symptoms and pain indicators you should look out for if you suspect you have a kidney issue.

What Are Common Kidney Pain Symptoms

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People with kidney pain may experience different symptoms. Some of the most common kidney pain symptoms include:

  • A constant, dull ache in your back.
  • Pain in your sides, under your rib cage or in your abdomen.
  • Severe or sharp pain that comes in waves.
  • Pain that spreads to your groin area.
  • Kidney pain is often accompanied by nausea or vomiting, especially if the pain is due to kidney stones.

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How To Distinguish Between Kidney Pain And Back Pain

This article was medically reviewed by Sarah Gehrke, RN, MS. Sarah Gehrke is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist in Texas. Sarah has over 10 years of experience teaching and practicing phlebotomy and intravenous therapy using physical, psychological, and emotional support. She received her Massage Therapist License from the Amarillo Massage Therapy Institute in 2008 and a M.S. in Nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2013. This article has been viewed 301,468 times.

When you are having pain in your back, you may not automatically know what it causing it. It can be very difficult to recognize the differences between pain originating in your back and pain coming from your kidneys. However, the difference is all in the details. In order to distinguish between kidney and back pain you need to concentrate on identifying exactly where the pain is located, how constant it is, and whether there are any other symptoms you are experiencing. If you can identify the details, you should be able to distinguish between kidney and back pain.

How Common Is Flank Pain

Flank pain is very common. Nearly everyone gets flank pain at some point.

Kidney stones are one of the most common causes of flank pain. Every year in the United States, more than half a million people receive treatment for kidney stones. One in 10 people will get a kidney stone during their lifetime.

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Less Common Causes Of Lower Right Back Pain

The following conditions may be common in the population, but are less likely to cause lower right back pain than pain in other areas, such as in the abdomen.

Lower right back pain may be an early symptom of the following:

  • Gallbladder inflammation. Gallbladder inflammation or dysfunction is typically marked by severe indigestion, particularly following meals. Gallbladder dysfunction typically causes upper right abdominal pain and right-sided back pain.
  • Liver problems. Pain related to the liver may be caused by inflammation , an abscess, liver scarring , or an enlarged or failing liver. Symptoms of liver problems include pain in the upper right abdomen and/or back, fatigue, nausea or lack of appetite, and jaundice. Liver problems are relatively rare in persons not already at risk.

If the above conditions are the suspected cause of troubling symptoms, seeking prompt medical attention is advised.

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Kidney Symptoms Lower Back Pain

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Types Of Spinal Infections

Determining whats causing your pain is the first step in figuring out what type of treatment is appropriate for your condition. Where anti-inflammatories may help a minor back condition, they arent as effective for a spine infection.

Although spine infections arent common, they do pose a significant risk because of the close proximity to your spinal cord. And untreated infections may lead to more severe health risks.

The following are four infections of the spine that could cause back pain:

What Do My Kidneys Have To Do With My Back

In truth, your kidneys have little to do with your back or its functions. Your kidneys are located below your rib cage, on both sides of your spinal cord. They are two bean-shaped organs that help to keep your bloodstream clean by filtering your blood for waste products, excess water, and acids. They create urine and help to maintain the balance of minerals and water in your blood. Kidneys also help manage your blood pressure by producing vitamin D and erythropoietin, both of which are used in the production of red blood cells.

If your kidneys are damaged, or if you have an illness that affects your kidneys, you might feel pain in your kidneys. If youre experiencing back pain, there are some key symptoms to watch for.

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How Can You Tell The Difference Between Kidney And Back Pain

When it comes to differentiating between the two, you want to look at two factors: the location of the pain and the type of sensations youre experiencing.

Location

Pain that is related to a pulled muscle, ligament strain, or disc damage, can be anywhere up and down your back, but it tends to be around the lower spine . Reason being: This area bears most of our weight as we go about our daily activities, rendering it more vulnerable to injury, tightness, and muscle fatigue. If theres a nerve issue, the pain may also radiate down to your butt or to one of your legs or feet, as well.

Kidney pain, on the other hand, manifests around the middle of your back and to either side of the spine. This is called the flank area. If you reach around and put your hand naturally where your waist is, its right about there, says Dr. Rajan.

Type of pain

Back pain can range from a sharp burning sensation to a dull ache. You may also experience numbness or tingling in your legs. The key thing to notice about back pain, though, is that it often flares up or lessens depending on how you move, according to Cheyenne Santiago, M.S.N., R.N., and managing editor at MCG.

Kidney pain is also often accompanied by other symptoms. So, if you also:

  • Notice your pee looks bloody, dark, or cloudy
  • Find that your urine smells funkier than usual
  • Have pain when urinating

youll want to have your primary care physician examine your kidney function.

What About Kidney Stones Are They Involved Here Somehow

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Sort of. A kidney stone isnt an infection, but a collection of salt and minerals that hardens and turns into a stone. While some stones may be small others can be much larger. They may stay in the kidney, or begin to move into the ureter, the tube that connects the kidney and the bladder. When this happens, kidney stones can become extremely painful.

Kidney stones can be tricky, since they may have many of the same symptoms as a UTI or a kidney infection pain when urinating, needing to urinate often, and cloudy or strong smelling urine, blood in the urine, fever, nausea or vomiting. And while stones often pass on their own, larger stones sometimes need to be broken up, or removed.

Sometimes, kidney stones can lead to a urinary tract infection or a kidney infection, so its important to get them checked out by your doctor. And, since the symptoms are so similar, getting a checkup is probably a good idea anyway just to rule out the possibility of an infection, and to make sure the stone is moving along as it should.

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Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms

Typically, a kidney infection develops after a UTI has already affected your urethra the tube through which urine exits your body and your bladder. This area is known as your lower urinary tract.

If you recognize the earlier signs of a UTI, you can seek treatment and usually avoid a kidney infection. But its possible that your symptoms wont be severe enough to get your attention until the infection has spread to your kidneys.

Whether or not youre also experiencing kidney-specific symptoms, its important to look out for signs of a UTI affecting your lower urinary tract:

Painful Urination Known as dysuria, pain during urination is usually caused by inflammation in the lining of your urethra.

In addition to UTIs, dysuria can be caused by a number of other conditions, including vaginal yeast infections, kidney stones, and sexually transmitted infections .

Frequent Urination A UTI can cause frequent and intense urges to urinate, even when youve recently emptied your bladder.

Thats because an inflamed bladder from your infection may be more sensitive to pressure from your urine, giving you the sensation that your bladder is full even when its not.

Causes Of Kidney Infections

Kidney infections are a result of bacteria entering the kidneys. While there are many causes for a kidney infection, the most common is from a pre-existing infection in the urinary tract, like a bladder infection.

The urinary tract, or urinary system, comprises organs that extract, hold, and transport waste as urine from your system. The organs include two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra.

Kidneys process blood to produce urine. The urine travels via the ureters to the bladder, where it is stored, waiting to release during the urination process through the urethra. When bacteria end up in the urethra, they can travel to the bladder and cause an infection that turns into a kidney infection when it moves to one or both kidneys.

Infections in the urinary tract are most commonly caused by the bacteria Escherichia coli, also known as E. coli. About 90 percent of uncomplicated urinary tract infections are caused by E. coli, a bacteria that can be found in the colons of humans and animals as well as their fecal waste. E. coli can spread to the genitals and into the urinary tract through improper wiping or toilet backsplash. Bacterial transfer can also occur during sex.

Other conditions that prevent the natural urine flow can increase the risk that an infection may occur, such as blockages to the ureters from a large kidney stone.

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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider

See your doctor if you have persistent pain in the kidney area, or if you have back pain along with any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever or chills.
  • Nausea or vomiting such that you cannot eat or drink.
  • Oddly colored pee.
  • A repeated urgent need to pee that is unusual for you.
  • The appearance of solid material in your pee.
  • A general feeling of illness or lethargy that wont go away.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Kidney pain may be mild or severe. Sometimes its harmless, but in most cases, it means that you have a problem somewhere in your urinary system. If you develop back pain along with fever, vomiting, pain when you pee or other worrisome symptoms, see a healthcare provider right away. They can find out whats causing your kidney pain and figure out how to treat the problem.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/31/2022.

References

Symptoms Of An Infection

Kidney Back Pain When Lying Down

In many cases, back pain is related to an injury or a degenerative condition, such as arthritis. But in some cases, the pain in your back has nothing to do with getting hurt. Although spinal infections arent common, they can be difficult to diagnose based on symptoms alone.

The reason spinal infections are sometimes missed is because they dont always present with body-wide symptoms, like a fever. In the early stages, the only sign of an infection you might have is back tenderness that doesnt seem to get better.

As the infection progresses, more symptoms become apparent, which should clue you in that theres a problem. Often, back pain is one of those symptoms, along with others like:

  • Chills
  • Worsening pain

Another clue that your pain isnt normal back pain is that the discomfort doesnt seem to get any better, even with rest and medications. In fact, the pain usually gets worse, especially with certain movements.

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