It is sometimes hard to tell the difference between back pain that is caused by a bone or muscle problem and back pain (flank pain) that is caused by a kidney or bladder infection or a kidney stone.
Back pain that is caused by a bone or muscle problem:
- Occurs in the lower back; below the waist; or in the upper back, over the spine or between the shoulder blades.
- Gets worse with movement.
Flank pain that is caused by a kidney infection or a kidney stone:
- Is pain felt just below the rib cage and above the waist. Flank pain can be on one or both sides of the back.
- May spread to the bladder area or genitals.
- Gets worse as the bladder fills.
- Does not get worse when a person moves.
Flank pain with fever and urinary symptoms may mean a kidney infection (pyelonephritis) is present.
Current as of: March 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine