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"My back hurts in the lower front quadron. How do I know if it is a kidney issue?"

ZocdocAnswersMy back hurts in the lower front quadron. How do I know if it is a kidney issue?


I am a 40 year old female. One week ago I was lifting some boxes and the pain began. However, I also experienced a brown tint to my urine and a low fever. I have had no pain during urination. The pain is beginning to subside, but only a small amount.


Your symptoms are a bit atypical. Back pain is a very common problem encountered in the outpatient setting. Patients with this complaint often tell a story about a preceding event such as lifting something heavy or participating in a strenuous activity. In the absence of other warning signs, this story is somewhat reassuring for a musculoskeletal injury/strain and the back pain usually resolves in a few weeks. However, warning signs such as fever should prompt further investigation. The combination of symptoms of back pain, fever and a change in your urine are concerning for a problem originating in your kidney. The back pain usually associated with kidney infections (called pyelonephritis) is usually located at the angle where the ribs and spine converge on the back. Patients with this infection are often tender when this area is pressed upon. Given these concerning facts, you should seek further care from your primary care physician or emergency room as soon as possible. Blood and urine tests can help determine if there is an active infection or inflammatory process occurring, and imaging (such as with ultrasound or CT scan) can help identify a possible source within the kidney.

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