All back pain is not created equal. Not only is severity very different from patient to patient, but the loctation is an important factor in diagnosing what exactly might be wrong with you. For instance, high back pain can indicate a muscle sprain or strain that could be relieved by taking over-the-counter medication to reduce inflammation and pain. If the pain strikes your middle back, you might have twisted your spine in a strange way that causes muscle strain, and can be relieved by OTC pain meds and a good core strengthening exercise regimen.
However, if your back pain occurs in the lower back, on either side of your spine, you might have more than back problems; it could be kidney-related. Your kidneys are located just above the bulge of your hips on your backside. If you are unsure where they are located, look on a reputable medical or physical therapy website. Kidney back pain is often mistaken for simple back pain, simply because of the location. Kidney infections can cause pain that radiates to the front of the hips, down the legs, or can cause pain down the back of your legs, masking your ability to differentiate it from back pain.
“Simple” back pain can present differntly, in that it is usually more localized, and may have happened to you suddenly. It does not generally cause a fever, and pain relievers often ease the pain and keep it at bay. It may have occurred after particularly strenuous movement, or after twisting in an uncomfortable manner that stresses your spine, or causes a muscle strain or tendon sprain. Back pain unrelated to kidney back pain can still be dangerous; it is recommended that you see a physician for x-rays before deciding on any home remedies.
Symptoms of a kidney infection can manifest as lower back pain, which occurs on either side, and may be accompanied by pain in the groin area. You might feel sick, with vomiting and stomach upset. A fever may be present, and your urine may be cloudy or have traces of blood and smell differently than normal. You might have increased frequency, needing to use the bathroom more often, but producing very little urine each trip. One or more of these sypmtoms may be present; usually not all occur at once. Your kidney back pain problem may be due to kidney stones, in which case pain can be extreme.
In any event, should you present any of the above symptoms (or a combination), see your doctor as soon as possible. The only course of action you should undertake involves a course of strong antibiotics and follow-up with either your family practitioner or a urologist, who can tell you if you might have kidney stones in addition to an infection. Treatment for stones is fairly simple and involves breaking the stones up with ultrasonic waves; until then, though, if your pain is severe, a doctor can prescribe painkillers and analgesics with your antibiotics to relieve the pain and pressure.