How to Differentiate Kidney Pain from Back Pain

  • There are a few key ways to differentiate kidney pain from back pain.
  • Kidney pain is a dull or sharp pain in the flank region. The pain can be on the right or left side of the body, where the kidneys are located.
  • It can be accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, urinary changes, nausea, and vomiting.
  • Back pain, on the other hand, is more likely to be generalized and not localized to one particular spot.
  • It is often aggravated by prolonged walking or standing and is not usually accompanied by other symptoms.
  • If you are unsure which type of pain you are experiencing, consult a medical professional.

Many people experience back pain at some point in their lives. Back pain can range from a dull ache to a sharp, stabbing sensation. In most cases, back pain is caused by muscle strain or overuse. However, there are other, more serious causes of back pain, such as kidney stones or infections. So, how can you tell if the pain you’re experiencing is from your kidneys or your back?

Keep reading, and you’ll find out.

How to Differentiate Kidney Pain from Back Pain

Signs to tell if your back pain may be kidney pain

  • Kidney pain is dull if an infection causes it, for example, pyelonephritis. In contrast, a pain that is sharp in nature is caused by a kidney stone. The kind of sharp pain caused by kidney stones is called renal colic.
  • Kidney pain is constant.
  • Kidney pain is felt on the sides, in the middle of the upper back, just under the ribs, to the right or left of the spine, and it is deeper and higher up the back
  • Kidney pain gets worse when the kidneys are physically hit and worse with movements.
  • The pain is usually on one side because most diseases affect only one kidney.
  • Kidney pain radiates to the lower abdominal region, groin, and inner thigh.
  • Kidney pain doesn’t get better until the cause of the pain is treated. 
  • Kidney pain is often accompanied by burning urination, frequent urination, nausea, vomiting, and fever, while back pain is not. 

Signs of back pain that are not kidney pain

  • Pain is felt in the lower back.
  • It is intense in nature (sharp burning sensation).
  • The pain may occur with hip stiffness, numbness, or weakness of the lower extremities depending on the cause of back pain.
  • Back pain is not constant.
  • Back pain gets better with rest, a heating pad, and a hot shower bath.

Learn More: 5 Early Symptoms of Kidney Stones You Shouldn’t Ignore


Kidney pain and back pain can also differ in terms of their causes. For example, kidney pain is often caused by a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, polycystic kidney disease, and trauma to the kidneys. Back pain, on the other hand, is commonly caused by muscle strain, disk degeneration, or a herniated disk.


Kidney pain and back pain often require different treatment methods. If you’re dealing with kidney pain, you might need antibiotics to clear up a urinary tract infection or surgery to remove kidney stones. Back pain, on the other hand, can often be treated with over-the-counter medication, physical therapy, or chiropractic care. In some cases, though, more invasive measures may be necessary.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, it can be difficult to know the difference between kidney pain and back pain. However, there are some key ways to tell them apart. Kidney pain is constant, while back pain is not constant. Additionally, kidney pain is often accompanied by a fever, frequent urination, nausea, and vomiting, while back pain does not typically have these symptoms. If you are unsure whether your pain is due to a kidney infection or something else, it is important to see a doctor as soon as possible so that they can properly diagnose and treat your condition.

Also read: 5 Types of Back Pain You Should Never Ignore

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