Something hurts back there, but what?
Pain in the back may be caused by just about everything, from too much strain to a bit of draft, and most people will just dismiss it. It is possible that it is your kidney that hurts, and not your back. Kidney pain could be an indicator of a potentially troublesome condition, such as kidney stones or some sort of kidney disease. As all medical problems have higher chance of being resolved successfully if detected sooner, you will be at advantage if you can tell kidney pain form back pain.
Causes of kidney pain
There are several reasons for kidney pain. What usually come to mind is kidney stones. These are typically formed from tiny crystals of calcium oxalate and various other minerals, which congregate and form a stone. If the stone is large enough to interfere with kidney tissue, its movement within the urinary system will cause tremendous pain. Kidney stones typically hurt when they get stuck in the channel which connects the kidney with the bladder. Kidney stones may eventually pass through the urinary system without much help, or might require dissolving by medicaments, or even removal by surgery.
Next common cause of kidney pain is infection and ensuing inflammation of the kidney area. Kidney tissue is very sensitive to pain, and it becomes very painful if irritated, as is the case with kidney stones and infections. Pain caused by kidney infection can be so intense that it is almost unbearable to touch the flank area. Kidney cancer can cause pain in the kidneys once it is large enough to exert pressure on normal kidney tissue. Another cause of kidney pain is hereditary disease known as polycystic kidney disease. Kidneys of people affected by this disease enlarge beyond normal proportions, and pain this causes is typically felt in the front rather than in the back.
If for some reason, such as kidney stone, cysts, tumors, or swelling, flow of urine from the kidney is blocked, resulting pressure of urine in the kidney can cause strong burning pain.
Where did that pain come from?
How to distinguish kidney pain from back pain? In general, back pain is duller and it lasts longer, while kidney pain is sharper and usually comes and goes in throbbing waves (though pain could linger for days if you are passing a stone). A gentle tap to the kidney area will cause a more or less pronounced burst of pain from the affected kidney, while in case of back pain it will not make any difference. Back pain is typically a result of a strain or injury to the muscle, ligament or vertebral disc and is connected with a feeling of stiffness. If your back hurts, you might feel like you can't make a certain type of movement, while pain from the kidney makes your body go fail-safe and you will not want to move.