Kidney Pain and Back Pain

When people have back pain, sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether it’s a pulled muscle or kidney pain. One noteworthy difference is that kidney pain often comes in cycles or waves and has other symptoms that accompany it. Examples include fever, chills, or painful urination. These conditions generally do not occur with a pulled back muscle.

The reason why back pain accompanies kidney problems is the location of the kidneys. Usually the lower back is where the pain is felt because the kidneys are located to the sides of the spine and are also right above the hips.  As a result, the kidneys’ location can mask kidney related pain as back pain when it is really a result of kidney organ pain.

What causes kidney related back pain?

There are several causes for kidney related back pain, but most often it is the result of tenderness in the area because of infection or disease. In addition, trauma to the back - like a punch or hit - over where the kidneys are, can cause injury to the kidneys and pain as well.

How can back pain be determined from kidney pain?

While it is often difficult to differentiate back pain from kidney pain, there are a few key signs connected with kidney pain. Kidney pain in the back region is most commonly caused from infection or kidney stones. These are the two primary reasons people suffer with kidney pain. If this is the case, the following can occur:

- Pain will be in the lower back area
- Pain will be on one or both sides
- Pain may radiate into the groin area
- Pain is more localized
- Pain may occur suddenly
- Pain in the back may improve or worsen depending on movement or position

- There may be pressure that makes a person feel like they have to go to the toilet frequently

Although taking over the counter medicine may improve back pain momentarily, it does not rule out kidney problems; and needs to be checked by a medical professional.

How can back pain be treated?

The underlying cause for kidney pain must be treated first and foremost. However, the back pain can be treated in many ways. One of those ways is by taking ibuprofen or acetaminophen for the pain. This will help with muscle pain and inflammation. Another way to treat pain is to seek massage therapy, which can treat the muscular pain and help reduce inflammation. Massage therapists, however, must be made aware that the person has kidney issues so they can properly treat him or her.


It is important to understand why back pain is occurring—either as a result of a muscle problem or a kidney infection or problem. If a person believes that the lower back pain is a result of a kidney related issue, they should see a qualified medical professional who can further investigate potential causes, such as infection or kidney stones. 


Our informational articles are for your information only and are not intended as medical advice. Because everyone is different, we recommend you work with your qualified medical professional to determine what’s best for you.