It’s only natural in the search for a self diagnosis that we point the finger at any organ in the painful area. So if it’s at the front of the chest you think heart, and just the worry might be enough to give you palpitations!
I’ll just say right up front that I’ve only seen relatively few people with back pain which didn’t come from a joint, nerve or muscles. And that’s a good thing as it has meant that treatment and recovery was a relatively simple matter. But cases of kidney related back pain are out there.
What you’d be looking for with kidney issues
Basically, if any of your internal organs is playing up and in trouble you’re going to have noticed other symptoms associated with the function & purpose of that organ. With the kidney we’re talking about issues with peeing. For example, changes in how often you go, discoloured or cloudy urine or pain peeing.
Of course, these have to be seen in context. After all, everyone is going to get more yellowy urine if they’re de-hydrated. Color changes happen with some supplements and foods – beetroot will turn it reddish!
Pain location is important, except for one teeny problem which I’ll come to in a minute. Textbooks show actual kidney pain comes round the side of the lowest part of your rib cage from the back and then wraps round to the front on your upper abdomen. This often deep and vague; not easy to pinpoint or touch and often gnarly whatever position you’re in.
The teeny problem is that pain is often felt in different areas to the actual source. So it can refer to the low back and even the shoulder. And because kidney & ureter function (the ureter is the tube carrying the urine out from the kidneys) are linked, it can be in the area below the belly button or in the testicles in men. A variety of these pain patterns is shown in red/pink in the diagramme.
Then there are the so-called constitutional symptoms. These are general symptoms that don’t say what’s wrong, but just show that someone is unwell. These include fevers, night sweats, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and tiredness.
But it’s the big picture that counts here. It’s not enough to fixate on just one of these without other symptoms and use that as the reason for a Google search to scare yourself. It’s the overall collection of clues that counts, and one symptom doesn’t make a collection of anything…