How Kidney Issues Can Cause Back Pain

How Kidney Issues Can Cause Back Pain

Back pain affects an estimated 80% of people, with many people experiencing chronic pain throughout their lives. What’s more, the causes of back pain can be surprising. 

Our compassionate staff at Osteoporosis and Rheumatology Center of Tampa Bay in Tampa, Florida is led by Jeffrey Miller, MD, a rheumatology and internal medicine specialist with years of experience in treating different types of pain. While you might think the pain you’re feeling in your back means that you may have hurt your back, it’s possible that it could be your kidneys. 

What do my kidneys have to do with my back?

In truth, your kidneys have little to do with your back or its functions. Your kidneys are located below your rib cage, on both sides of your spinal cord. They are two bean-shaped organs that help to keep your bloodstream clean by filtering your blood for waste products, excess water, and acids. They create urine and help to maintain the balance of minerals and water in your blood. Kidneys also help manage your blood pressure by producing vitamin D and erythropoietin, both of which are used in the production of red blood cells. 

If your kidneys are damaged, or if you have an illness that affects your kidneys, you might feel pain in your kidneys. If you’re experiencing back pain, there are some key symptoms to watch for.   

Kidney pain vs. back pain

If you’re experiencing pain anywhere on your body, it’s important to pay attention to your symptoms. While you think you may be experiencing pain in your back, it’s possible that what you’re feeling is actually pain in your kidneys. Some key points to pay attention to include: 

Kidney pain itself could manifest as back pain, but it could also take a few other forms, including: 

What causes kidney pain? 

Kidney pain has a number of possible causes, all of which require prompt and thorough medical attention. Causes of kidney pain include:

Kidney stones

When calcium solidifies in your kidney, it forms a little mineral ball that could be as small as a grain of sand, but can be much larger. As kidney stones pass through your urinary tract, they cause intense pain in the sides of your body, and your back. 

Drug use

Hard drugs like heroin, as well as certain steroids, can affect your kidney function. Synthetic cannabinoids already pose a number of risks to your health, but they also can hurt your kidneys.  Kidneys can be damaged by alcoholism and excessive amounts of over-the-counter medication. As with all of your organs, nicotine use puts your kidneys at risk for a number of chronic conditions. 

Kidney infection

As powerful a tool as it is for managing your body, your kidneys can be vulnerable to infection. Kidney infections begin as a urinary tract infection, or UTI, and travel to one of the kidneys. Kidney infections are a medical emergency, as well as a possible source of back pain.   

Kidney disease

Kidney disease is often caused by other chronic conditions such as diabetes. Diabetes causes your blood sugar to fluctuate dangerously due to a lack of insulin in your blood. Uncontrolled blood sugar hurts your kidney’s ability to clean your blood, and kidney disease becomes a greater possibility.  

How do I get help? 

Dr. Miller is a board-certified internist with extensive experience treating all types of internal pain. After a thorough review of your medical history, as well as testing, Dr. Miller will recommend the best treatment for your pain. If you’ve been experiencing pain in your upper back, and especially if you’ve been having other symptoms, call us today at 813-336-3793 for an appointment.

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