A urinary tract infection (UTI) is a common infection of the urinary system. In addition to back pain, people with a UTI may experience an increased need to urinate and a burning sensation when they urinate.

UTIs can involve the bladder, urethra, and kidneys. An untreated UTI may allow the infection to spread to other parts of the body, such as from the bladder to the kidneys. If a person suspects they have a UTI, they should contact a doctor.

This article discusses whether UTIs can cause back pain, other symptoms of UTIs, and how doctors treat these types of infections.

A person is researching on a laptop.Share on Pinterest
Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

A UTI that has not caused complications in the body will typically not cause lower back pain. However, a person with a UTI may experience back pain if the infection reaches their kidneys.

A kidney infection is a type of UTI. It can result in back pain. A kidney infection is a serious condition and, if left untreated, can lead to significant health complications.

If a person suspects they have a UTI or kidney infection, they should contact a doctor.

Learn about the differences between UTIs and kidney infections.

Treating the UTI may ease the back pain. A doctor may prescribe a combination of drugs, such as antibiotics and pain relieving medications, to treat a UTI.

A person may need to take antibiotics from 3 days to 6 weeks, depending on the severity of the infection. It is important to take medications exactly as a doctor prescribes and for the length of time they prescribe, even if the condition seems to go away.

Placing a heating pad on the back or abdomen may also ease the pain that a UTI can cause.

Drinking a lot of water and other liquids can stimulate urination. Urinating frequently can help speed up recovery from a UTI. However, a doctor may not recommend drinking a lot of water if a person has certain conditions, such as kidney failure or heart disease.

In cases where symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be necessary.

Learn about ways to treat a UTI without antibiotics.

Back pain is not the only symptom that a person with a UTI may experience. Recognizing the symptoms of a UTI and promptly treating the infection is important, as this can help prevent complications.

UTI symptoms

UTI symptoms may include:

Kidney infection symptoms

Without treatment, a UTI may cause a kidney infection. People with a kidney infection may experience:

If a doctor suspects a UTI, they may order laboratory tests such as urinalysis and a urine culture. This will allow them to look for signs of a bacterial infection and identify what types of bacteria are present.

Imaging tests can help to identify and confirm a kidney infection. These include:

Learn more about UTI tests.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about UTIs.

Where does the back hurt with a UTI?

People with a UTI may experience pain in their back, below the ribs. They may also have pain in the lower part of their abdomen.

How might a person know whether a UTI has spread to the kidneys?

If a UTI has spread to the kidneys, people may experience additional symptoms, including:

  • nausea
  • back and side pain
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • chills

How long does back pain last with UTI?

People with UTIs may experience back pain for as long as the infection is left untreated. To reduce back pain, people need to seek treatment for the condition that is causing the pain.

Is back pain with a UTI serious?

Back pain with a UTI can be serious. This symptom may be a sign of kidney infection. This condition can cause severe complications, including kidney failure and even death.

A UTI can cause back pain. This type of pain may also be a sign of a kidney infection, which is one of the most severe types of UTI.

People with UTIs may experience an increased need to urinate, and they may have pain or a burning sensation while doing so. If a person with these symptoms also experiences nausea or vomiting, this can indicate a kidney infection.

A doctor may recommend antibiotics to treat a UTI. However, mild infections may go away on their own.

People who suspect they have a UTI should contact a doctor. The doctor can recommend the most appropriate treatment for their condition.