Lower Back Pain

Spinal Issues or Kidney Problems and An Accurate Diagnosis


Understanding what is causing back pain that comes out of nowhere, whether a spinal issue or a kidney issue, can be quite challenging. Doing a self-examination, retracing steps, and constantly thinking about it is exhausting. The right healthcare professional with experience in spinal issues, an understanding of various health conditions that can contribute to spine pain, and making the correct diagnosis can help develop the proper treatment plan or refer the individual to the proper specialist.

The Kidneys

The organs are located below the ribs, close to the middle/thoracic back. Healthy kidneys support and help with:

Individuals with a kidney condition can sometimes experience back pain caused by the disease or condition. Kidney problems like:

These can easily be mistaken for mid and upper back pain. However, persistent soreness or irritation could mean a more significant health issue associated with the kidneys could be present.

Spine Problem or Stone/s

If there is a feeling of kidney pain, it can come from one of two places and/or both. This could be distension/ballooning of the capsule called the ureter that surrounds the kidneys. The ureters are the tubes attached to each kidney and transport urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Urine contains salts and minerals. These minerals can clump together, creating a kidney stone and blocking the ureters. The ureter contracts from the stone that is creating the blockage.

When there is a blockage from a stone, the urine can back up and cause the capsule to expand, causing pain. The pain location is usually on one side and is categorized as a dull ache – meaning the pain is constantly present and causing discomfort. Chronic back pain caused by nerve compression is typically on one side, like sciatica.

The pain from a stone can be only slight unless the stone is trying to move. Then the pain can be severe and last several minutes before it passes. However, if the pain is excruciating and a kidney stone is suspected, go to the hospital and get an examination. Collecting the stone is crucial when it passes to be analyzed. A stone analysis will help determine the proper treatment to prevent another kidney stone/s from developing.

Spine Problem or Infection

A kidney infection could be another cause of back pain. Bacteria typically cause kidney infection/s. A dull throbbing could be sensed in the middle and/or upper back.


Signs and symptoms associated with infection often include back, side, and groin pain as well as a combination of symptoms like:

  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Constant sensation of needing to use the bathroom
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting


Causes that can increase the chances of developing an infection.

  • Kidney stone/s
  • Nerve damage that affects the bladder
  • Spinal damage that does not allow the bladder to be emptied
  • Urinary tract infection

Older individuals can develop kidney infections without any underlying conditions. Rare genetic diseases like polycystic kidney disease and Fabry disease can cause kidney pain and be mistaken for back pain.

Telling the Difference

There is no quick and easy way to determine if it is back or kidney pain. Especially if a constant aching is present. Seeing an experienced doctor or chiropractor is recommended for getting a formal and accurate diagnosis. A physical exam, family and personal medical history will be collected, and various tests. Tests can include:

  • Urine analysis
  • Culture
  • Abdominal X-ray
  • CT scan
  • MRI

Pain medications and specific fluids are usually prescribed along with time to pass the stone. Antibiotics can be prescribed for kidney infections, chiropractic treatment can be suggested for spinal alignment/myofascial tense muscle release, and home remedies can help treat discomfort. These can include:

  • Using ice/heat on the area where there is discomfort
  • Self-massage
  • Staying properly hydrated
  • Diet adjustment/s
  • Taking over-the-counter pain meds when necessary

Back Pain Specialist


Tozzi, P et al. “Low back pain and kidney mobility: local osteopathic fascial manipulation decreases pain perception and improves renal mobility.” Journal of bodywork and movement therapies vol. 16,3 (2012): 381-391. doi:10.1016/j.jbmt.2012.02.001

Post Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Spinal Issues or Kidney Problems and An Accurate Diagnosis" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

Blog Information & Scope Discussions

Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*

Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez DC or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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