What Can You Do To Relieve Kidney Back Pain?

Back pain can come from a variety of possible places. Typically it's from spine or muscle damage. But sometimes, neither of these is the root cause of your discomfort.

You may, instead, have a kidney problem. A kidney infection or a kidney stone can cause sharp, stabbing back pain that is capable of making a grown man cry. I'm not kidding. I speak from experience.

So how do you know if your back pain comes from an injury to muscles or nerves versus a kidney stone or infection?

Location is your first clue. Kidney back pain usually happens in the "flank" region, which is just below the bottom of your rib cage. You'll feel the pain in your back, but it won't be near your spine - it will be more toward your side.

Kidney pain often "comes out of the blue," as the saying goes. One minute you feel fine. A few minutes later, the pain is intense and unrelenting.

Kidney stones sometimes hurt when they move from the kidneys down to the bladder. But they can also create an obstruction in the ureters, which are the thin tubes between the bladder and kidneys.This obstruction can cause intense pain and discomfort.

Besides back pain, symptoms of a kidney problem include blood in your urine . A burning sensation is also typical, and you'll probably feel an urgent need to urinate more often than usual. Pain sometimes travels around the side, into the abdomen, and in men, all the way down to the testicles.

Kidney stones may actually pass through your urinary system and out of your body through urination, especially if you drink a lot of water. As painful as they can be, they're generally not life threatening.

But a kidney infection, left untreated, can lead to kidney damage and even kidney failure. Kidney infections come in two varieties. There's glomerulonephritis, which can be acute or chronic, and pyelonephritis, which is an inflammation of one or both kidneys that can be acute, relapsing or chronic.

Therefore, if you think your back pain may be caused by a kidney problem, call your doctor.

How to Help Ease Kidney Back Pain at Home

As I mentioned above, I've experienced a lot of kidney stones. Several times, there was no back pain, and the stone passed peacefully. But I've also been hospitalized to have stones removed twice. It's not fun, although new procedures, like shock wave therapy, have been developed that result in much less discomfort than some of the old fashioned methods.

Back pain from kidney problems can be especially relentless. Your doctor can give you pain killers, but honestly, hardly anything has worked very well for me except percocet, which is pretty strong (and may even be addictive).

A hot shower may help. I've also gotten some relief by lying on my back in a bathtub full of warm water. No doctor has ever suggested doing this, but it seems to work. I think it might relieve some of the pressure from gravity pushing down on a stone when it's stuck in the ureter.


Kidney back pain shouldn't be taken lightly. At the first sign of anything you think may be a kidney problem, don't anticipate that it will go away on its own. And don't hesitate to get in touch with your doctor. Do it as soon as possible.


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George McKenzie is a former TV news anchor, medical reporter and radio talk show host.

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