Lower Back Pain… is it just the back?


Speaking as someone who has had severe and multiple back injuries, I’m no stranger to back pain.  In fact, for the better part of 23 years, I have had, what is considered, chronic back pain… even after surgery to correct the issues.

But, when is back pain, NOT, true back pain? When it is caused by something like the Kidneys! Located against the back muscles in the upper abdominal area, the right and left kidney sit opposite each other on each side of the back; however, the right kidney tends to sit a little lower than the left so the abdominal cavity can accommodate the liver.

One way to, sometimes, tell the difference between a normal backache and kidney pain is, backache pain will be, generally, dull and constant;  while kidney pain can be sharp, severe and comes and goes with activity or hydration. That’s right, a lack of ingesting enough water can cause significant kidney pain; and help produce painful kidney stones.  The pain, only one side or the other, can mean that the kidney is not functioning because of the formation of the stones.  Often, this acutely felt on the right kidney; or the right side of the back or side.  But, kidney stones aren’t always the reason for the back pain.

What can cause this pain? A number of things; all of which, need to be checked out ASAP by a physician. Kidney stones are often the root of the problem, but sometimes they become just part of the issue. The most common symptom, is a blockage of the urine.  A kidney stone can block the flow of urine by becoming stuck while passing or by blocking the Ureter.  This, often, happens when the kidney swells; and can lead to other sharp pain in the right side of the abdomen and/or back.

Kidney Infection can also be a cause.  Inflammation of the kidney may result in pain and other issues.  Of course, intake of more water is, generally, but not always, advised; especially, when an antibiotic is prescribed.  The water will help to flush out toxins and reduce the inflammation. Again, one needs to see their physician for guidance.  Sometimes with this swelling and/or inflammation, bleeding might occur; and again, cause sharp pain. However, an injury to the kidney, such as a fall or a fight, could be a cause of the bleeding as well.  Again, more reason to see ones doctor.  Again, however, those pesky kidney stones can cause bleeding as well.

What else?  An interrupted blood supply to the kidney due to a blocked artery can lead to severe pain or kidney damage. This blocked artery can stem from arterial disease, diabetes, cholesterol, or other issues, such as cancer.

Even heredity can play a part in kidney pain, in the form of enlargement of the kidneys due to a Poly-cystic condition. This can lead to more symptoms, such as, spasms in the bladder as well.

What are some of the things NOT to do, or continue to do, with Kidney issues?  The list can be quite extensive; and, I would suggest looking things up on the internet to educate oneself while waiting to see the doctor.  But, if one is sure that the lower back is not the cause, then until seeing a doctor, limit activities, such as drinking soda pop, alcohol or other harsh fluids, which might antagonize the kidney condition.  Water, should be drunk to help flush out toxins from the kidneys; but again, I have to stress that one should be seeing a doctor ASAP.  If one cannot get into a their doctor immediately, then go to an Urgent Care for evaluation!

Other issues, might be limiting activity which can exacerbate the kidney condition or “move” the kidney stones. For example, if one knows they have kidney stones, then activity such as running/jugging or Whole Body Vibration may “move” a stone where it may block urine or even “tear” tissue by trying to pass.  In rare cases, however, and I can speak of this first hand, Whole Body Vibration can actually be used to “help pass” small, common stones, before they become large ones requiring surgery.

So, what is the moral of this story? Just about everybody experiences back pain at some time in their life.  The trick, is knowing if it is a muscle issue, bone issue – such as with an injury – or a kidney issue.  If pain comes on suddenly and is intense on one side of the back, but goes away just as fast… then returns some other time, perhaps, it is a kidney issue which needs to be checked out!  However, if pain radiates across the entire back (or even just on one side) and you have done something like “bending or lifting” which resulted in a sharp and steady pain which seems to last… it is more likely to be an injury from “lifting” or “bending” wrong; and the muscles are letting you know it!  Or, if you have had an accident of some kind which results in back pain; again, chances are, it is not a kidney issue; unless, the accident resulted in a “blow” to the kidney area of the back.

In any event, whenever there is acute pain which lasts more than just a momentary amount of time, it is generally best to see a doctor as soon as possible – especially, the older we get!

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