Nerves that can sense pain are not present in the kidneys themselves, but primarily in the pelvis of the kidneys. “Back pain due to kidney disease only occurs when a kidney or kidneys suddenly becomes inflamed or expanded, blocking or affecting urine flow, such as with a kidney stone or a kidney infection,” notes Brown Medicine Division of Kidney Disease & Hypertension’s Dr. Douglas Shemin. “The most common causes of kidney disease – diabetes and hypertension – virtually never cause back pain.”
Kidney stones or kidney infections typically cause changes in the urine. With kidney stones, the urine may be bloody or blood-tinged. With kidney infections, the urine can also be bloody, or it can be cloudy.
The symptoms you’re having can help your Brown Medicine physician figure out which is the source of the pain. The location, type, and severity of the pain are some of the things that will be different depending on whether the pain is from a problem in your kidneys or your back.