Low Back Pain or Kidney Pain

Low Back Pain or Kidney Pain
Hi there,

This question arise because,
many people thought,
''waist pain'' could be ''kidney pain''?

Before going into furthur,
let's understand the anatomy & position
for Back Muscles & Kidneys
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  • Consists of 5 lumbar vertebras and muscles and ligaments surrounding it 
  • Major muscle group: Erector Spinae, Multifidus, and Quadratus Lumborum
  • All 3 muscles are located on both sides of our vertebras and they are the muscles that usually get strain or spasm / cramp until cannot move

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  • The kidneys are located underneath your ribcage, which means it is slightly higher compared to your lower back muscles (waist), it is somewhere in between your middle back and lower back. 
  • The right kidney is located slightly lower compared to the left kidney because the liver is also located on your right side.

Symptoms and associated conditions of kidney problem 

  1. Kidney pain is usually sharp if you have a kidney stone and a dull ache if you have an infection. Most often it will be constant. 
  2. It won’t get worse with movement or go away by itself without treatment. 
  3. If you’re passing a kidney stone, the pain may fluctuate as the stone moves. 
  4. Sometimes the pain spreads (radiates) to your inner thigh or lower abdomen. 
  5. If you have a kidney infection or a kidney stone, you may also experience: 
- fever and chills
- nausea and vomiting 
- cloudy or dark urine
- an urgent need to urinate 
- pain when urinate 
- a recent infection in your bladder 
- blood in urine  
- small kidney stones that look like gravel in your urine


Symptoms and associated conditions of back problem 

  • Back pain can occur anywhere on your back, but most commonly on lower back or buttocks. 
  • Muscle pain feels like a dull ache. If a nerve has been injured or irritated, the pain is a sharp burning sensation that may travel down your buttock to your lower leg or even your foot. 
  • Muscle pain may affect one or both sides, but nerve pain usually only affects one side. 
  • Back pain may get worse with movement or if you sit or stand for a long time. It may get better if you switch positions or walk around. 

Other symptoms of back pain: 

  • Painful spot looked swollen and tender
  • Muscle spasm in the painful area
  • numbness or weakness in one or both of legs (if it is due to a nerve issue) 
  • If you have back pain and can’t hold your urine or bowel movements, you should be evaluated immediately. You may suffer Cauda Equina Syndrome. It can cause severe long-term damage to your spinal nerves if not treated immediately. 


Causes of Back pain: 

  •  Straining a muscle or ligament in the back 
  • Poor posture
  • Standing or sitting for an extended period
  • Muscle spasms
  • Muscle tension
  • Injuries to the back, such as fractures or falls
  • Damaged, dislocated, or ruptured discs
  • Abnormal curvature of the spine
  • Tumors 


Kidney pain: 

  •  Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney infections
  • Blood clots in the kidneys
  • Trauma or injury to the kidneys 
  • Tumors 
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Simple test to differentiate between back or kidney issue 

  • If the problem comes from your back, certain movements of your back may trigger or worsen the pain 
  • Movements such as bending forward, backward or sideways will trigger or worsen the pain if your problem arises from back issues 
  • If the problem comes from your kidney, movements of your back will not usually trigger or worsen the pain, the pain is quite constant  
  • BENPHYSIO says: Muscle injuries are usually caused by muscle imbalances, when one group of the muscle is shortened, the opposite group of muscle will be lengthened, both muscles are tight but one in shortened position and the other in lengthened position. Tight muscles can be easily strained or injured due to loss of elasticity and loss of effective activation. Besides, shortened muscles are also prone to spasm/cramp. Thus, stretching can be used to loosen the tightened muscles. 


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Self stretching exercises

  • These three are the stretching exercises you can perform to ease your pain if you have a back pain 
  • Hold for 15 secs and 4 reps for each exercise and perform at least 3 sets per day 
  • If the pain does not relieves or gets worsen please consult your physical therapist 

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Hug knee stretch 


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 Child post stretch

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Side bending stretch

Credit to our Senior Physiotherapist, Suzane Chan


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