Back pain in the kidneys is a very common patient complaint that might indicate actual involvement of the kidney organs, but is usually located in the lumbar musculature. Remember, the spinal muscles exist directly over the anatomical location of the kidneys and are typically the target of many common dorsalgia syndromes. Since the kidneys are very crucial organs, it is important that all symptoms be thoroughly investigated by a qualified physician to rule out kidney pathology and dysfunction. Once the kidneys have been cleared, then diagnosis of the underlying back pain condition can begin in earnest.
This guide helps patients who are experiencing back pain near the kidneys. We will discuss the various causes of these types of pain syndromes, as well as provide guidance that can help patients to ascertain the true source of symptoms using the latest diagnostic protocols.
Location of Back Pain in Kidneys
There are 2 kidneys in the human body, located bilaterally on each side of the spinal structures. Sensation in the kidneys themselves is registered in the T10-11 spinal levels. The kidneys are located in the posterior side of the anatomy, under the various layers of the dorsal muscles. The kidneys are positioned between T10 and L4 in the vast majority of people. The left kidney sits slightly higher than the right, since the right must account for the placement of the liver above it.
Over the kidneys on the rear of the body exist a complicated layering of muscular tissues that are often the site of acute and chronic back pain due to many different possible causes. When patients experience deep pain in these tissues, there may be fear of the pain being located in the actual kidney organs.
Patient might demonstrate pain unilaterally or bilaterally. Both scenarios can occur if the pain is truly emanating from the kidney or from the muscular back structures. Pain may be present close to the spine, midway to the outermost side of the body or entirely located on the flank of the body under the side ribcage.
Causes of Back Pain in Kidneys
There are many, many potential reasons for pain to occur in the kidneys themselves. However, it should be known that most back pain is not due to organ involvement and is usually caused by some less serious muscular or neurological concern. The most common kidney pain syndromes include any or all of the following conditions:
Kidney failure can occur for known or idiopathic reasons. When the kidneys stop functioning, the blood does not enjoy proper filtration and dire health consequences will quickly result. Acute, chronic and end-stage renal disease are all included in the kidney failure heading.
Kidney stones can be extremely painful, but usually do not present significant health problems once treated. Some patients have recurrent kidney stone problems that can become chronic health disorders.
Diabetes is one of the major causes of chronic kidney problems.
Some pharmaceutical products are also known to limit kidney function, causing pain and related symptoms.
Kidney cancer is relatively common in older individuals and can pose a tremendous health risk for affected patients.
Kidney cysts, including polycystic disease, can affect one or both kidney organs.
Nephritis is the general term for kidney inflammation. Many sub-categories of kidney disorders fall under this umbrella heading: Overactive immune response can traumatize the kidney organs through a process called glomerulonephritis. Renal infection, often called pyelonephritis, can originate locally or spread from another location, such as the bladder.
Meanwhile, true dorsalgia might feel as if it is located in or near the kidneys, but actually exists in the nerves and or muscles of the back itself. These debilitating syndromes can be caused by the vast multitude of spinal, soft-tissue enacted, trauma-induced, disease-related, systemic and mindbody causes of back pain that compose the substance of this website.
It should also be known that pain might exist in other organs of the body, near one or both kidneys, so a thorough evaluation should always be performed in order to rule out other possibly catastrophic health issues.
True Back Pain in the Kidneys
If the kidneys and nearby organs are cleared as being the origin of pain, it is generally safe to proceed forward with tissue correlation in the muscular and neurological structures of the back and spine.
Spinal sources of pain are possible and may include nerve compression at or near the thoracolumbar juncture, enacted by an intervertebral pathology, osteoarthritic process, curvature abnormality, vertebral displacement concern or other anatomical irregularity. The diagnosis of posterior ramus syndrome, for example, is certainly on the rise.
However, muscular pain syndromes are far more prevalent and can strike focal or large areas of the back musculature, including the paraspinal muscles that run under the length of the dorsal surface on both sides of the spine. I can attest to the pain involved in these types of syndromes, since I have suffered from them myself over many years and have worried at some points that the pain was deep enough to actually be located in the internal organs, which luckily, was not the case.
Causation of muscular pain ranges wildly and often presents a clinical profile that defies treatment. For severe pain conditions, diagnosis may pose a challenge and the conclusion is typically revised accordingly as treatment after treatment fails to provide relief and the patient seeks new therapy elsewhere.
In summary, as long as the kidneys are not the source of the pain, there is usually little to worry about. Patients must be warned that many of these pain syndromes are diagnostically linked illogically to structural abnormalities found during spinal imaging. In these cases, treatment often escalates quickly and proves fruitless, since the diagnostic theory is incorrect. Alternately, the patient might receive a diagnosis of some muscular pain syndromes, such as imbalance, fibromyalgia or myofascial pain syndrome, all of which generally defy successful care. Patients should be wary of the types of therapies they attempt, since many choices are dangerous and generally disappointing in their results. This is particularly true of surgical interventions that can often cause more damage than benefit.