Back Pain vs. Kidney Pain

Kidney pain and back pain (or dorsalgia) are often confused with each other but there are several important differences. While back pain can be dull, aching and continuous or intermittent and sudden, kidney pain usually occurs in waves or cycles and is accompanied with other symptoms like chills, fever and pain while urination. At times, back pain and kidney pain can be similar in symptoms but their causes and indications are very different.

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Back Pain

Kidney Pain

Area affected Pain predominant in the back due to problems in muscles, nerves, bones and joints of the spinal cord. Pain experienced in the lower back to the left and right of spine and above the hips.
Symptoms Dull and continuous pain becoming worse with movement. Generally the pain recurs or increases immediately after some activity viz. excercise, front bending etc. Pain is severe and occurs in waves. Delayed occurence of pain after exercise such as front or side bending.
Causes Injury to back caused by mild sprains to severe cases of slip discs, cancer etc. Kidney stone, infection or any other kidney-related problem.
ICD-9 724.5 None (the code for Kidney Stones is 592.0)
ICD-10 M54. None (the code for Kidney Stones is N20.0)
DiseasesDB 15544 None (the code for Kidney Stones is 11346)
MeSH D001416 None (the code for Kidney Stones is D007669)

Contents: Back Pain vs Kidney Pain

edit Types of Back Pain and Kidney Pain

Back pain is classified into neck pain, upper back pain, lower back pain or tailbone pain anatomically. It can be acute if it lasts for less than 4 weeks, sub acute if lasting for 4 to 12 weeks and chronic if present for more than 12 weeks.

Kidney pain is usually very severe and if caused due to kidney stones are known as colic which indicates its wave like occurrence as opposed to steady pain. Pain due to kidney infection is indicated by pain in flank area. All types of kidney pain are usually accompanied with fever, nausea and vomiting.

Regions of the body that feel pain resulting from kidney stones.
Regions of the body that feel pain resulting from kidney stones.
Different regions (curvatures) of the vertebral column may be afflicted with back pain
Different regions (curvatures) of the vertebral column may be afflicted with back pain

edit Differences in Causes

edit What causes back pain?

Back pain can be caused due to a number of reasons. Usually mild back pain does not require immediate medical attention. Back pain usually occurs due to inflammation. Sometimes back pain can be indicative of a serious medical condition like bone fracture, spinal fracture, multiple myeloma, osteoporosis, cancer, lumbar disc herniation, degenerative disc disease etc. Stress and dysfunctional family relationships are also known to cause back pain. During pregnancy, a majority of women experience low back pain which can be severe during the third trimester.

edit Causes of kidney pain

The most common cause of kidney pain is kidney stones. These stones get lodged in the ureter blocking urine flow causing severe pain which has been comparable to labor pains. Kidney pain is also caused due to pyelonephritis or kidney infection. Pain occurs due to infection and inflammation of the capsule that surrounds the kidney. Unlike back pain, both these types of kidney pain are accompanied with fever, nausea and vomiting. Other potential causes of kidney pain include cancer and bleeding inside the kidneys due to injury. Dull aching pain in kidney can be caused due to polycystic kidney disease or gradual blockage of urine flow.

edit Treatment and Management of Back Pain vs Kidney Pain

If back pain is not chronic, it can be managed by a hot pack and a massage; on the other hand, kidney pain is persistently acute and would need a visit to the doctor.

Back pain is managed by a number of therapies and pain medications. Even though surgery is an option, it is rarely considered unless absolutely necessary. Some of the back pain management involves use of heat therapy, massage therapy, cold compression therapy, use of muscle relaxants, physical therapy, exercises, Alexander Technique, acupuncture, electrotherapy etc. Patients commonly see a chiropractor, physical therapist or Osteopath.

Kidney pain is treated according to its cause. Treatment usually involves antibiotics and bed rest for long time. Kidney disorders can have serious implications and hence require immediate medical intervention. Removal of kidneys stones might require surgical methods if medications fail to give relief to patient.

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Comments: Back Pain vs Kidney Pain

Anonymous comments (5)

April 20, 2014, 6:07am

To Sara Fleischmann: Go see a Dr. ASAP. I have a friend who described the same exact symptoms as yours. I was able to get her to the Dr. fairly quickly. He discovered that she had fluid building up her in her lungs and was very, very close to going into congestive heart failure. I have already said a prayer for you and will continue as The Lord brings you to mind. God bless-

— 174.✗.✗.44

November 3, 2013, 4:22pm

You can drink ( stinging) nettle tea for a couple of weeks and it will cleanse the kidneys and purify the blood. Also helps with the pain and you can add arnica tea. Keep drinking even after you feel better, just like antibiotics.

— 66.✗.✗.104

April 13, 2013, 2:58am

Now 65 I have had three bouts of back pain in the last 10 years I am sure is kidney related. It comes on quickly and I get no other symptoms other that pain in the lower back. With a week to ten days I will have a cold set in and antibiotics are need or it lasts for a month or more. I am now in day two of the pain and I will seeing my doctor tomorrow. He has never heard of this type of precursor to a cold before.

— 108.✗.✗.6

April 6, 2013, 4:46pm

I find this page very unreliable, and feel this information is incorrect. Some people do experience kidney pain that is dull and constant. Furthermore, pain in the kidneys does not always mean that it will hurt or burn when you urinate. I'm not trying to make this an angry comment, but I am very disturbed that this information is being given out when it comes to people's health. I once went to the doctor because I thought I had a UTI. It did not burn. Did not hurt. The only reason I suspected the UTI was because of a faint odor in my urine. I had UTIs in the past so it popped up on my radar. Went to the doctor who told me I was fine. I was not given anything. Two weeks later I was in her office again because I was urinating blood. My point is, what you read in a book will not accurately depict what people go through, and misdiagnosing can be dangerous. If you have any worry about your kidneys, please see your doctor and insist that they run tests.

— 24.✗.✗.190

October 28, 2013, 1:43pm

Just to point out that lower back pain can be very painful also, to the point of tears (ive had 2 children and my pain is almost as strong as contractions). I have had this pain which i often for over 10 years-doctors never checked my kidneys. I am however requesting kidneys to be checked as ive had pain which is getting worse non stop for a week (unusual for me). Anyway lower back pain can be just as painful and it bloody hurts :(

— 94.✗.✗.132


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