Don’t Ignore Kidney Pain: When to Seek Medical Help for Your Kidneys.

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Wondering what that weird ache on your back is? It could be kidney pain that you feel in your back or sides. Kidney pain is also prevalent in the belly or groin. The underlying cause of the pain lets the doctor know precisely which treatment method to follow. 

The cause could be an infection, injury, or stones that form. Kidney or renal pain is the discomfort one feels around one’s kidneys. This could be severe or mild, depending on the cause, which varies. 

However, it is also seen that usually, the pain is due to an issue related to the urinary system.

Kidney pain is usually confused with back pain, and this article will remove this misconception. The following sections will focus on the causes of kidney pain and the symptoms of severe issues that require professional attention. 

Kidney Pain Versus Back Pain

Kidney Pain Versus Back Pain

The kidneys are two small bean-shaped organs placed right behind the stomach and intestines on either side of the spine. This is why pain originating from the kidneys or the urinary system is first sensed as back pain. 

Around five years ago, I remember my older sibling feeling terrible pain, which was located in the lower back. At first, it seemed like a harmless back pain, maybe due to improper lifting, which caused him injury. However, when the pain became unbearable, we rushed to the doctor to finally discover it was kidney stones. 

This experience told me firsthand not to take back pain lightly, especially when the pain is progressive and does not lessen. The middle of the back usually hurts more in case of back pain, commonly localized to the lower back and over the spine. 

On the other hand, kidney pain is felt higher in the back and feels more deep-seated than back pain. Unless you are superhuman (do share your secret! :p), you must have felt back pain once or twice. You would know that the pain is understood just to be superficial and in the muscles. 

Kidney pain symptoms are usually felt under the ribs, either right or left of the spine. In addition, the kidney pain may also radiate to the neighboring areas such as the groin and abdomen

Hip pain can also be confused with kidney pain; however, the former is felt much lower than kidney pain. 

Symptoms of Kidney Pain

Symptoms of Kidney Pain

After ensuring that your pain is too severe to be back pain, you can seek further clarity by looking at the symptoms. The following list provides a look at the symptoms of kidney pain for you to differentiate it from others:

  • Incessant, dull ache in the back
  •  Pain in the abdomen, rib cage, or sides
  • Radiating pain in the groin area
  • Sharp pain that comes in waves
  • Pain accompanied by vomiting or nausea- specifically the one caused due to kidney stones

The most prominent sign that the pain in your back is due to a kidney issue is vomiting or feeling nauseous. Another sign that the pain is not a back pain is that it will persist despite trying different methods. 

Most Common Reasons Why Kidney Pain Occurs

The reason why kidney pain occurs can be due to the following reasons: 

  1. Kidney Stones
Kidney Stones

The most common cause of kidney pain is the buildup of minerals in the kidney. The stones can be either the size of a sand grain or bigger than a pearl. When the stones are smaller in size, they usually pass through on their own. 

When they are bigger in size (usually larger than the size of the ureter), it can be a painful process. 

  1. Injury 

When you engage in sports, especially those where contact is involved, injury is common. The severity of the trauma can result in urine leakage from the kidneys and blood in the urine. 

  1. Kidney Infection
Kidney Infection

The symptoms of an infection can include chills, pain (back or side), fever, nausea, and vomiting. Usually, bacteria infect the kidneys, during which the pain can be severe. 

  1. Urinary Retention

The inability to empty one’s bladder causes pain due to the blockage. The partial or complete restriction of the urine flow can cause other discomforts.

  1. Vesicoureteral Reflux
Vesicoureteral Reflux

This results in the backward flow of urine to one or both ureters, sometimes leading to the kidneys. This causes pain that is persistent and may result in an unexplained fever. 

Additionally, you may have heard the term kidney stent pain. As the term suggests, it is the pain experienced when a stent is inserted into the kidney. This causes pain in the genitals, urethra, groin or kidney, and the bladder. 

When To Contact Healthcare Provider

When To Contact Healthcare Provider

Kidney pain can warrant a professional examination due to the above-listed causes and other reasons, such as severe conditions. These can be ureteropelvic junction obstruction, polycystic kidney disease, kidney cancer, and ureteral stricture, which cause extreme pain and other symptoms. 

Their symptoms can be severe to raise an alarm, which can be as follows: 

  • Blood in urine
  • Fever and chills
  • Unusual frequency of urination
  • Appearance of solids in your urine
  • Odd-colored urine 

 Home Remedies For Kidney Pain

Home Remedies For Kidney Pain

The primary step to resolving the issue is seeking medical help. However, if support is on its way, follow these to ease the discomfort in due time:

  • Stay hydrated, as the water will help flush the bacteria from the urinary tracts
  • Place a hot bag or heating pack on your back or the affected area to ease the pain
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen- after consulting the physician
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks such as coffee 
  • Avoid salty or sugary drinks as it can cause kidney damage over time


This was all about the different causes of kidney pain and the signs to differentiate it from back pain. The article also highlighted the home remedies that you can adopt to get rid of the kidney pain. 

It is essential to note the signs and symptoms of the kidney problem so that you can immediately seek assistance if the condition becomes unbearable. 

Kidney pain is often confused with back pain, which can be differentiated when you look at the list of symptoms to look out for. Prompt treatment includes the use of home remedies suggested in the article. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can Kidney Pain Be Felt In The Lower Back?

Yes, you can feel kidney pain in the lower back. The kidneys are located in the back, just below the rib cage, and any issue affecting the kidneys can result in lower back pain.

How Can Kidney Pain Be Prevented?

To prevent kidney pain, it is vital to maintain good kidney health. You can achieve this by staying hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and promptly treating urinary tract infections.

Is Kidney Pain Always A Sign Of Kidney Damage?

Kidney pain can be a symptom of kidney damage, but it is not always the case. It is best to consult a healthcare professional to determine the cause of your kidney pain and assess any potential damage.

Can Dehydration Cause Kidney Pain?

Dehydration can contribute to kidney pain. When the body is dehydrated, the kidneys may not function optimally, leading to discomfort or pain in the kidney area.

Is It Normal To Have Pain In Your Back Or Side If You Have Kidney Pain?

Yes, it is common to experience pain in your back or side when you have kidney pain. The kidneys are located in the back, and any discomfort or inflammation in the kidneys can radiate to surrounding areas.

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