You gotta be kidney.
May 8, 2010 7:17 PM   Subscribe

AmateurMedicalOpinionsFilter: I've been experiencing mild to moderate pain in my mid-back (and occasionally my right-lower-quadrant abdominal area) for four days now. It feels a bit like a bad backache. I'm worried that this may be a kidney issue, although I have no significant medical history.

I know you're not my doctor, but I'm uninsured, so I'll gladly accept amateur opinions. Are they kidney stones maybe?
posted by speedgraphic to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I don't know what it is, but recent experience tells me that it's not kidney stones - that would be severe pain.
posted by amro at 7:22 PM on May 8, 2010

I'm not a doctor or medical type person, but you really, really need to go have this looked at by a professional. I suggest you post the general area you're in so that ask users can recommend low(er) cost options in your area. Good luck, and feel better soon.
posted by cestmoi15 at 7:27 PM on May 8, 2010

I'm in San Diego, CA if that helps. Are there clinics that would see me? I don't qualify for Medicare or Medical.
posted by speedgraphic at 7:31 PM on May 8, 2010

This is a stab in the dark, and I don't think it's likely to be what you're experiencing, but sometimes when I get really bad indigestion I can feel it in my back, like a bad backache. Could it be a digestive issue?

(Related to that, the appendix is in the lower right abdomen, and appendicitis is a medical emergency. I'm absolutely not diagnosing you with appendicitis, but if you have reason to suspect it, you need to see a doctor right now.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:32 PM on May 8, 2010

In 2008, I gave birth on April 24 and had a kidney stone just about 2 weeks later around May 15. The kidney stone was exponentially worse than the labor - I couldn't sit up, couldn't move. Was literally flat on the floor. In the less than 1 mile ride to the emergency room, I was screaming in the car. So while I won't give you any medical advice and, due to no medical training, would not presume to rule out any condition, I would tell you that my experience of a kidney stone was unequivocal worst-pain-ever-experienced, get-me-to-the-ER-NOWNOWNOWomgplease kill me. It was not something I would ever in the world describe as "a bit like a bad backache"; it felt how I imagine it would feel to be repeatedly stabbed in the back with a rusty broken machete.
posted by bunnycup at 7:39 PM on May 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've had kidney stones twice. Both times, I had uncomfortable back pain for weeks before the pain became so overwhelming that I went to the ER. So, yeah, it could be kidney stones. Please find a way to see a doctor.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:47 PM on May 8, 2010

For me, kidney pain usually presented as back/flank pain, definitely concentrated on one side. It wasn't excruciating pain at first, but it definitely gradually got worse.

Do you have any other kidney-stone-like side effects, like pain when you urinate, nausea, or fever/chills? The last one only applies to kidney infection, I think, but I had persistent nausea during my kidney stone episodes.
posted by rachaelfaith at 7:51 PM on May 8, 2010

I had a kidney stone for ... wait for it ... a year. They are not always the worst pain ever. Your symptoms sound like mine - mild to moderate discomfort. Mine came in waves - some days I felt fine, other days I was flat out.

You do need to see a doctor, though. Abdominal pain can be many things, some urgent.
posted by zippy at 7:57 PM on May 8, 2010

No nausea, fever, or chills. My appetite is decreased, but who knows with that symptom. There is mild pain when I urinate.

@bunnycup: Oh, definitely. I know I'm not PASSING the stones (I've seen people go through that and I know I'm not experiencing that level of pain) but I'm worried they're trapped in there a la jrossi4r.

@Metroid Baby: Damn you for scaring the crap out of me! Reading about the "signs" for appendicitis, I don't seem to be positive for any of them (pain while lifting right leg under pressure, pain in right ilial fossa when palpating left ilial fossa area, etc.) but that's still a damn scary thought nonetheless.
posted by speedgraphic at 7:58 PM on May 8, 2010

Yeah. With the mild urinary pain present, I'd say that's cause to go see a doctor.

I found this PDF of low-cost clinics in San Diego (not sure how old/relevant it is) as well as Family Health Centers of SD and perhaps some of the places on this list.

I hope you are able to get seen soon!
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:05 PM on May 8, 2010

Might be a urinary tract infection. But there's no way for us to know.
posted by amro at 8:11 PM on May 8, 2010

FYI, if it is a kidney stone, it's not dangerous unless you lose the ability to pee. If that happens, hit the ER.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:20 PM on May 8, 2010

IANYD, and you've gotten good amateur responses, but I wanted to add that BlahLaLa is incorrect (losing the ability to pee is certainly a reason to head for the ER, but not the only one!). Kidney stones are dangerous when combined with infections, too, and pain when you urinate could indicate an infection.

I would also agree with the amateur opinion that right lower quadrant pain is often worrisome for appendicitis. You do not have to have all the classic signs and symptoms to have it. Appendicitis is a 'great masquerader' that can present in many different ways. I have known many who have tried to write it off as "just some indigestion" or "just some cramps" until they couldn't anymore.

Please try to hit either the ER or another medical care option that can see you very soon. A simple, cheap urinalysis could give a lot of information here, and they could work with you on other testing options.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:37 PM on May 8, 2010

I had a similar (though increasingly worse) pain experience when my liver was inflamed following complications from gallbladder removal surgery. I'm guessing this pain isn't amenable by Tylenol/Ibuprofen? Get thyself to a doctor—consistent inexplicable back pains are bad news, in my experience.
posted by Keter at 10:04 PM on May 8, 2010

As someone who's had fun times with kidneys, it does sound quite a bit like the pain I had with kidney infections. Hopefully you're able to get into a real doctor and find out for sure. Good luck!!
posted by couchtater at 1:29 AM on May 9, 2010

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