Can a UTI Cause Back Pain?

While some UTI symptoms, such as burning or pain when urinating, are more common, others may cause someone to question their cause. Back pain, in particular, is one UTI symptom that is less common and, in some cases, may signify a more severe infection.

Continue reading to learn more about when back pain from a UTI is a cause of concern and what you can do to ease this form of pain.

Table of Contents

What is a UTI?

A urinary tract infection (UTI) is most often a bacterial infection of the bladder. These types of UTIs are referred to as uncomplicated UTIs as they remain in the lower urinary tract.

However, in some cases, the bacteria may continue traveling through the urinary tract from the bladder to the kidneys. This is considered an upper urinary tract infection and is considered to be a complicated infection.

Despite this possibility, most UTIs remain uncomplicated and in the bladder, especially if antibiotic treatment is started quickly.

Common UTI Symptoms

UTIs have some very characteristic symptoms that are easy to recognize, such as:

  • Burning or pain when urinating
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent and urgent need to urinate
  • Strong odor in urine

The above symptoms are characteristic of a bladder infection. 

Can a UTI Cause Lower Back Pain?

While back pain is not a common symptom of a UTI, some people may report minor back pain with their UTI.

Instead, most people with a UTI report lower abdominal pain, which can sometimes feel like soreness or fullness in the groin.

In cases where someone is experiencing back pain from their UTI, it may be a sign of a more serious infection, especially if the back pain is constant or severe.

Could UTI Back Pain Be a Sign of a Kidney Infection?

A kidney infection is a more severe type of UTI affecting the upper urinary tract, and one of its defining symptoms is severe pain in the mid-lower back. 

Back pain from a kidney infection is typically concentrated between the ribs and hips, and it feels like a constant dull or severe pain. The pain often increases if you increase your fluids or someone presses on your back.

Other symptoms that signify a kidney infection include fever, nausea/vomiting, or chills.

Kidney infections are serious infections requiring medical treatment, so it is vital to seek medical attention as soon as you notice these symptoms.

How Long Does Back Pain Last with a UTI?

When it comes to any symptom of a UTI, including back pain, they will last until the infection is cleared. If left untreated, this can last around a week, although, in at least half of these cases, the infection will not go away on its own and may become more severe.

For those who take antibiotics for their UTI, symptoms typically go away in a day or two, offering a much quicker form of relief.

There are also at-home methods that can help relieve UTI pain quickly. However, if the back pain is due to a kidney infection, they are not as effective since the source of the pain is the kidneys, not the muscle. Kidney infections rarely go away on their own, and it is very dangerous to leave the infection untreated. Additionally, the back pain from a kidney infection will not go away until antibiotic treatment is started.

How To Get Rid of UTI Back Pain?

There are many ways to get rid of back pain from a UTI, including:

Antibiotics

The gold standard for treating a UTI is antibiotics because they help destroy the bacteria and halt the infection. When you take antibiotics and clear up the infection, you also get rid of the unpleasant symptoms that result from the infection, such as a sore lower back.

Since most cases of back pain from a UTI are due to a kidney infection, antibiotics are even more critical as they are the only way to treat this severe infection and prevent lasting damage from occurring. Antibiotics for kidney infections are often delivered intravenously at the hospital. 

Apply Heat

While antibiotics are quick to clear the infection, you still have to wait a day or two before your symptoms begin to go away. During this time, you can use a heating pad placed on the lower back to help ease any pain.

When using a heating pad, though, be sure to keep a barrier between it and your skin, use a low heat setting, and only use it for 15 minutes at a time to avoid burns.

OTC Pain Relief

OTC pain relievers are another option for easing back pain while you wait for the antibiotics to start working. Medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen offer general anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce pain throughout the body, including in the lower back.

When To See a Doctor?

When you begin taking an antibiotic, you will typically see some form of symptom relief within a day or two. If, however, you hit day three and still feel the same symptoms, schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss trying a different antibiotic. Additionally, if your symptoms get worse at any point, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.

It is also essential to see a doctor at any point if you have any symptoms of a kidney infection, including constant mid-low back pain. These infections are more severe, so treatment is essential to prevent long-term damage.

How Can DrHouse Help You?

For those with a UTI who cannot schedule a visit with a primary care physician, DrHouse can connect you with an online doctor in just 15 minutes who can then prescribe you antibiotics to help you feel better. When time is of the essence, such as with kidney infections, quickly meeting with a doctor allows you to discuss treatment options and ways to prevent kidney infection, all without having to leave your house.

Key Takeaways

UTIs are common infections of the urinary tract that often settle in the bladder. The most common symptoms of a UTI include pain or burning when urinating and frequent, urgent needs to urinate. Another symptom of a UTI that some people may experience is lower abdominal pain that typically lingers in the groin. Sometimes this can also translate to mild lower back pain.

However, if the back pain from a UTI is constant and in the mid-lower back, it may be a sign of a kidney infection. This is a more severe type of infection that requires antibiotics to treat. As it stands, antibiotics are the best way to relieve all cases of back pain due to UTIs, as they treat the infection itself.

Other ways to minimize lower back pain are with heat and OTC pain relievers, although these methods will not relieve pain from a kidney infection. For those with any type of back pain, it is crucial to quickly connect with a doctor, such as through the DrHouse app.

Sources:

  • Flores-Mireles, A., Walker, J., Caparon, M., & Hultgren, S. (2015). Urinary tract infections: epidemiology, mechanisms of infection and treatment options. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 13(5), 269-284. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/nrmicro3432 
  • Bleidorn, J., Gágyor, I., Kochen, M., Wegscheider, K., & Hummers-Pradier, E. (2010). Symptomatic treatment (ibuprofen) or antibiotics (ciprofloxacin) for uncomplicated urinary tract infection? – Results of a randomized controlled pilot trial. BMC Medicine, 8(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-8-30 
  • Lo Basso, F., Pilzer, A., Ferrero, G., Fiz, F., Fabbro, E., & Oliva, D. et al. (2021). Manual treatment for kidney mobility and symptoms in women with nonspecific low back pain and urinary infections. Journal Of Osteopathic Medicine, 121(5), 489-497. doi: https://doi.org/10.1515/jom-2020-0288 
  • Atlas, S., & Deyo, R. (2001). Evaluating and managing acute low back pain in the primary care setting. Journal Of General Internal Medicine, 16(2), 120-131. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1525-1497.2001.91141.x 
  • Gilligan, C., Cohen, S., Fischetti, V., Hirsch, J., & Czaplewski, L. (2021). Chronic low back pain, bacterial infection and treatment with antibiotics. The Spine Journal, 21(6), 903-914. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spinee.2021.02.013 
  • Khauli, R., Abou Heidar, N., Degheili, J., & Yacoubian, A. (2019). Management of urinary tract infection in women: A practical approach for everyday practice. Urology Annals, 11(4), 339. doi: https://doi.org/10.4103/ua.ua_104_19 
  • Zhanel, G. G., Zhanel, M. A., & Karlowsky, J. A. (2020). Oral and Intravenous Fosfomycin for the Treatment of Complicated Urinary Tract Infections. The Canadian journal of infectious diseases & medical microbiology = Journal canadien des maladies infectieuses et de la microbiologie medicale, 2020, 8513405. https://doi.org/10.1155/2020/8513405 

Content on the DrHouse website is written by our medical content team and reviewed by qualified MDs, PhDs, NPs, and PharmDs. We follow strict content creation guidelines to ensure accurate medical information. However, this content is for informational purposes only and not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. For more information read our medical disclaimer.

Always consult with your physician or other qualified health providers about medical concerns. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it based on what you read on this website.

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