To celebrate National Kidney Month, we wanted to provide some practical information on the differences between a Kidney Disorder & “Typical” Low Back Pain.
- Our kidneys are situated on each side of the spine. They’re around our last floating rib, the 12th thoracic vertebrae & down to our 3rd lumbar vertebrae.
- These vital organs filter through almost 50 gallons of blood a day! They play a major role in the homeostasis of our fluids, balancing electrolytes, & our pH scale. (acid-base balance)
- Vitamin D is metabolized to its active form here so our bodies can use it.
- The kidney use about 7% of your body’s total oxygen consumption even though it only weighs less than 1% of your total body weight. Aside from breathing, oxygen is used to help filter our blood, & excreting wastes.
Differentiating Kidney Pain from “Regular” Low Back Pain
When someone is dealing with a kidney-related issue, one of the primary complaints is back pain. However, back pain is a very common issue that chiropractors and medical doctors deal with daily, and it is not always related to organ dysfunction.
So how can you tell the difference between having a kidney issue or dealing with muscular low back pain?
Here are a few signs & symptoms that may suggest your “Back Pain” is Kidney related.
- Kidney pain typically feels slightly deep, dull, more internal to the body, & closer to the ribs. The pain is usually one-sided compared to “regular” low back pain that’s on both sides & more commonly found near the base of the spine.
- One common condition treated by chiropractors is sciatic nerve pain. Sciatica describes the pain, numbness, or tingling sensations along the back of a person’s thigh & glutes. These referral sensations down the legs do not occur in kidney conditions.
- Pain in the groin is a very likely finding when dealing with kidney dysfunctions. One of the key distinguishing factors in determining a kidney problem is based on the urgency, frequency, or burning sensations when using the restroom. These are tell-tale signs of a kidney stone formation within the organs or ureters.
- Positional Relief describes a patient placing themselves in a position that helps alleviate some of the painful tension that comes with Low Back Pain. When dealing with a kidney-related problem, positional relief does not help the pain from an internal kidney disorder.
Problems that arise from the kidneys can have overlapping signs & symptoms that are affiliated with classic low back pain. It’s important to understand and distinguish the differences between the two. It is equally as important to seek out healthcare providers who focus on the treatment of low back pain and other spine-related issues. Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.) or Osteopaths (D.O.) are two types of doctors who have additional training in the treatment and assessment of spine pain. They are also portal of entry providers meaning you can see them without a referral, unlike physical therapists. DCs and DOs can help you determine whether or not your low back pain is coming from your muscles, bones, and joints or the Kidneys.