Back Pain vs Kidney Pain

How Do You Tell The Difference Between Back Pain vs. Kidney Pain?

Most back pain comes from your muscles and joints, not your kidneys.  But every now and then, your kidneys can cause back pain. Watch the video to learn the difference between back pain vs kidney pain.

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"Do You Think My Back Pain Is Coming From My Kidneys?"

I'm surprised at how commonly I get that question.

It's probably once every month or two that someone asks me that question.

I wouldn't think that it would be an incredibly common question because back pain is a very common condition.

Over eighty percent of people in America have experienced it at some point in their life. A relatively smaller number of people in comparison have kidney problems. Only one percent of back pain is caused by serious problems, such as kidney dysfunction or cancer.

Most back problems are caused by simple musculoskeletal pain.

I think I get that question so commonly because sometime back pain doesn't have a specific cause.

Sometimes, you just wake up one morning and your back is incredibly sore that you can't get out of bed.

Naturally, your brain makes you think that something serious has been going on because you didn't remember lifting something heavy or twisting your back. Yet, all of a sudden you wake up in this sudden severe pain and your brain goes to the worst case scenario.

Kidney Pain Is A Cause Of Back Pain

You do have to make sure that your back pain is truly coming from your kidney.

However, if you woke up with a sudden case of back pain and you don't know what caused it, kidney pain is not normally the initial cause that I would think about.

With that being said,

How do you make sure that your back pain is not coming from your kidneys?

Kidney pain is located higher up in the back just underneath the rib cage, whereas most lower back pain is lower around the belt line area.

Kidney pain is often a deep aching sensation that is more or less constant. The pain usually doesn't vary regardless the type of movement.

Conversely, the pain may be affected by doing things like going to the bathroom, drinking lots of water, or eating a high protein meal. These activities places a lot of stress on your kidneys and may cause increased pain.

Additionally, blood in your urine, is another indicator that your back pain is caused by the kidneys.

Finally, kidney pain may be accompanied by other signs such as fever, nausea, or just generally feeling unwell.

Those are all things that would make you think that your back pain might be coming from the kidney.

Assume Back Pain Is From Your Back

If you're having lower back pain, treat it as if it's musculoskeletal until you're proven otherwise.

If you don't have any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above and there are specific movements or positions that make your back pain either better or worse, statistically speaking, it's much more likely that your back pain is actually coming from your back vs your kidneys.

What To Do For Back Pain

If you've suddenly woken up with back pain, the first step would be doing some simple self-care.

For example, try doing some stretches and applying some heat on your back.

If that relieves your symptoms, the chances are very good that your pain is not a kidney problem.

The next step would be to seek help.

Even if you back pain hasn't lasted a long time, the quicker that you access care for your lower back pain, usually the faster that it gets better and at a lower cost.

Seeing a physical therapist directly saves you money on tests, such as MRIs. These tests can get really really expensive and run up your medical costs.

Conversely seeing a physical therapist shortly after an episode of back pain begins often results in faster improvement (sometimes in just a few of visits) and at a lower cost.

A Physical Therapist Can Help You Determine The Cause Of Your Back Pain

The other thing that you should know is that physical therapists have education in differential diagnosis.

That means a physical therapist can help you determine whether your back pain is coming from a musculoskeletal problem or some other medical problem that is out of the scope of physical therapy... for example a kidney problem.

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