Every illness, minor or significant, has its own set of symptoms, which is used for diagnosing and for providing effective treatment for the problem. However, what if two diseases have similar or overlapping symptoms?
It could be quite confusing, and a proper diagnosis is essential to provide the right treatment. This is the case with back pain and kidney pain.
Both the problems have similar signs, occurs in the back and yet they have completely different causes and different treatments too. In this article, let us discuss these illnesses, their symptoms, causes for lower back pain, causes of upper back pain, their characteristics, etc.
Understanding back pain
It would be surprising to find a person who has never experienced pain in their back, in their lifetime. Whenever we lift something heavy and exercise strenuously beyond the regular routine, we may experience pain commonly in our lower backs.
When we say lower back, we are referring to the region below the rib cage, which is also referred to as a lumbar region in medical terms. Fortunately, the pain often goes away on its own unless the cause is something severe like a fracture, or cancer pain.
Lower back pain – symptoms
When we undertake excessive and strenuous activities, our lower back muscles may tear up and cause pain. Sometimes it could be sharp (or “acute“) and sometimes just a dull ache. Generally, such pain that results from heavy lifting or an injury from playing sports gets better with time, even without medication. However, these are not the only cause for lower back pain.
If you have not sustained any sporting injury, or have not stretched or stressed your back muscles but you are experiencing back pain, then it is time for you to check for the below symptoms.
- Swelling in the back muscles
- The pain is severe and is not diminishing with rest
- Pain reaches from the back to the knees or the legs.
- Difficulty in bowel movement or loss of bladder control.
- Numb feeling around the groin area or the buttocks.
- An injury sustained at the back recently.
- Pain while urinating or pain while coughing.
In general, if the pain persists and you are experiencing other body issues, it is better to check in with the doctor.
If you have a history of weak immunity or other ailments, you have to take medical consultation, especially in case the pain does not ebb away, or it keeps coming back.
What causes back pain?
Of course, the major cause of back pain is the type of work you do. If you are into a job that requires some hefty lifting, twisting, pulling, anything that can strain your back muscle and the spine, you have higher chances of experiencing back pain. But that is not all!
Even if your job involves you to be in the same position for long hours, prolonged standing, sitting or even prolonged lying can cause back pain. This is why it is often advised to keep changing your postures and not to slouch while you work and so on.
Carrying your laptop or a shoulder bag can cause pain in your lower back. Even though it is your shoulders that carry, the stress is felt on your lower back. If the load is heavy, then do not overfill your bag but switch to a suitcase that you can wheel around.
The other causes include herniated disc where a bulging of the disc in your spine or a rupture in these discs can pressurize the nerves causing back pain. This happens either with injury or due to ageing.
Fractures in the different regions of the back can also put enough pressure on your lower back causing severe pain. The most severe of the causes is due to the metastatic vertebral cancer.
We have discussed the causes of low back pain more in detail previously.
Treatment for lower back pain
Depending on the reason/cause for the pain, the treatment will vary. If it is an only muscle strain, then a warm bath or a heating pad will do wonders for the pain. For dull (or “chronic“) back pains that last beyond 3 months, you can start including yoga into your routine. There are also massage therapies that help with pain management. Some even find relief with acupuncture, acupressure methods too.
There are of course medications that you can take based on doctor prescription. And in the worst cases, surgery is performed which involves removal of a disc or fusion of two vertebrae, etc.
Understanding Kidney pain
Unlike the back pain, the pain due to the impairment, injury or infection to your kidneys will be much deeper than it. It is generally felt on the upper back side below the ribs and around the hip region. The pain need not always be due to the problem in the kidneys though. Even if there is an injury or impairment to organs above or below the kidneys, it can result in kidney pain.
Kidney pain – symptoms
The kidney pain could be a problem related to just one kidney or both the kidneys. The pain is always specific to one location and will be quite severe to the right or left side of the spine, near the hips.
Whenever you experience pain in your upper back around the hip region and is accompanied by the below symptoms, it is important for you to consult with a doctor immediately.
- Dizziness, vomiting, and nausea
- Blood or pus in urine
- Fever and fatigue
- Rashes on the skin
- Cloudy urine or dark urine
- Oedema or body swelling
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Pain or Burning sensation during urination
- Pain in the back, on the sides and in the groin area
Some of these symptoms might also point toward urinary tract infection for which you might be taking treatment. In case the treatment is not having a positive impact, in such cases, it is better to consult your doctor immediately.
People often misconstrue the pain in their flank as a muscle pull or due to exertion, but that is not the case all the time. Medical attention is an immediate requirement with kidney pain as it can easily turn into a life-threatening situation.
Causes of Kidney pain
- Kidney infection is the major reason for kidney pain, and it occurs due to bacteria in kidneys. The bacteria enter our body through the urinary tract and then to the kidneys causing the infection. Sometimes an infection in other parts of the body can also spread to the kidneys through blood and result in kidney infection.
- Stones in your kidney can also cause pain around the region.
- Kidney cancer
- Inflammation in your kidney due to injury also called as Glomerulonephritis where the kidney is unable to filter the waste and additional fluid from our bodies.
There is also something called ‘Renal infarction’, which is a rarity, that can cause pain in your kidney and surrounding regions.
Treatment for kidney pain
In case of infections, it can be treated well with the use of medications and antibiotics, as per the doctor’s prescription.
Some of the causes will require surgery like in the case of kidney stones, where you can have laser surgery or a procedure that is minimally invasive to help. In extreme cases like cancerous tumours and other cysts, there might be a possible removal of the infected kidneys involved. Your doctor can help you with the right diagnosis and the right treatment based on it.
As goes the famous saying, “Prevention is better than cure”, we would say that regular exercise and a healthy diet can help you in keeping fit. Stick to technically correct manoeuvres, do not overdo your exercises and keep it as tolerable by your body. Last but not least, consult a doctor whenever you are in pain to find the root cause and get the right treatment without postponing.