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What is the Relationship Between Kidney Infection and Back Pain?

By Sarah Kay Moll
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A kidney infection is a bacterial infection that starts in the urethra or bladder and travels up to the kidneys. A kidney infection and back pain are sometimes related because back pain is one of the symptoms of a kidney infection. A kidney infection is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention and treatment.

A kidney infection and back pain often go together, especially if the pain is in the lower back where the kidneys are. Pain may not be limited to this area, however, as it can radiate to other areas of the back. If gentle pressure on the area over the kidneys worsens the pain, then it is likely a sign of kidney infection.

Other symptoms of a kidney infection include fever and abdominal pain. A kidney infection can also affect the bladder and urethra, causing frequent urination or a strong persistent urge to urinate, pain while urinating, and blood or pus in the urine. If not treated, a kidney infection can lead to permanent damage to the kidneys. The kidneys filter blood, so a bacterial infection in the kidneys can spread to the bloodstream if not treated.

The treatment for a kidney infection with back pain is typically a course of antibiotics. If the infection is severe, hospitalization may be necessary. In the hospital, a person will receive intravenous antibiotics to fight infection. Heat and over-the-counter medications can help relieve the back pain from a kidney infection. Drinking lots of water can help prevent kidney infections, because more fluids going through the body can help it flush bacteria from the urethra.

Women are more likely to be affected by kidney infection and back pain because a woman’s urethra is much shorter than a man’s, which makes it easier for bacteria to travel to the bladder and kidneys. Kidney stones can also increase the risk of kidney infections. People with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to all types of infections, including kidney infections.

Though a kidney infection and back pain can be related, back pain is a very common problem with many causes. Strains from overworking the muscles in the back through activities such as heavy lifting can cause back pain, however, this pain will typically go away after a week or two. Problems with the disks that surround the spinal cord, such as bulging disks that put pressure on a nerve, can also cause back pain.

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Discussion Comments

By ZipLine — On Jul 07, 2013

It's true that a kidney infection will cause back pain, but I don't think it's a good idea to assume that the cause is an infected kidney whenever there is lower back pain.

Kidney stones and kidney sand can also cause a similar back pain. Sometimes it's serious and sometimes it's not a big deal. I've passed kidney sand multiple times in the past, and I didn't even have to go to the doctor for it.

So I don't think people should jump to conclusions and think that they have a kidney infection when there are back pain symptoms.

By stoneMason — On Jul 06, 2013

@fify-- I think so but I'm not sure. Kidney pain can be tricky because like the article said, it can resonate to other areas. I had lower back pain on my left side when my left kidney was infected. But I also had pain on the opposite side, on my stomach.

The one thing that I think differentiates kidney pain from other types of back pain is that it's an aching type of pain. It's not sharp and doesn't come and go much. It's a constant pain.

By fify — On Jul 05, 2013

Will a kidney infection cause lower back pain on only one side or on both sides of the back? If only one kidney is infected, pain will only be on one side right?

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