It’s normal to experience back pain as you get older, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. What you could be feeling is actually pain in your kidneys that is disguised as back pain, and if that’s the case, you’ll want to see a doctor as soon as possible to get everything checked out.
Your kidneys sit under the lower part of your ribs and their main function is to filter waste out of the body. Kidneys extract waste and toxins out of the blood stream and pass them through urine, along with other fluids.
If you feel a deep pain in your back on one side, it can be challenging to identify whether you’re experiencing back pain or kidney pain. The kidneys are surrounded by other organs, muscles and bones, so take note of your symptoms and talk to your doctor if you are unsure of what’s causing your discomfort.
How to Identify Kidney Pain
There are a few key indicators that can tell you whether you’re experiencing kidney pain, including the location, severity and nature of the pain.
If you feel a constant, dull ache in your right or left flank, it could be your kidneys. Unlike back pain, which tends to occur in the lower back, kidney pain normally takes place higher up, toward your ribcage. The affected area may be extremely tender when touched or bumped. The pain can also spread to your inner thighs or abdomen, depending on the underlying condition.
There are also other symptoms that accompany kidney pain, such as nausea, vomiting, blood in your urine or pain while urinating. Experiencing any of these symptoms could be a key sign that you should see your doctor.
Causes of Kidney Pain
There are a number of reasons you could be experiencing kidney pain, including:
• An infection called pyelonephritis, which impacts the kidneys. This could be an isolated issue or part of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Regardless, this condition can be treated easily with antibiotics.
• Bleeding in your kidneys, or a blood clot in the veins connected to your kidneys, which is a condition known as renal vein thrombosis.
• A kidney stone, which is a mineral and salt deposit formed in the kidneys, causing severe shooting pain until it is passed through urination.
• Polycystic kidney disease, which is an inherited condition that causes cysts to grow and damage your kidneys.
• Chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is the loss of kidney function over time. This condition requires medical attention and treatment as soon as possible.
When to Get Tested
Depending on your condition and pain level, medical assistance is very important. As soon as you know that you’re experiencing kidney pain, or if you’re unable to identify the cause of your discomfort, speak with your doctor.
Your doctor may then run a series of tests to determine how well your kidneys are functioning, measuring your estimated GFR levels, your glucose levels, your lipid levels and others.
Trust your body when it is trying to tell you something, especially when you think your back pain may be something more. Also, stay up-to-date on your regular tests and exams to prevent unnecessary pain or conditions from developing as you live the best years of your life.