Back Pain and Exercise With a Kidney Infection

Staying physically active while battling an infection that causes back pain is not easy. If back and groin pain is getting in the way of your workouts, you might be wondering if you can exercise with a kidney infection. The good news is yes, you can, but there are a few things you should know.

Select exercises that won’t exacerbate back pain. Credit: Wavebreakmedia/iStock/GettyImages

Kidney Infection Causes and Symptoms

A kidney infection, otherwise known as pyelonephritis, is a type of urinary tract infection. There are several reasons why you might have a kidney infection. The most common causes, according to the Cleveland Clinic, include:

  • An enlarged prostate gland that compresses the urethra
  • Structural abnormalities that block the flow of urine
  • Backflow of urine from the bladder to the kidneys
  • Pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes

Another trigger for kidney infections, explains the Urology Care Foundation, is frequent bladder infections. These are often caused by urine flowing in the wrong direction or something blocking the flow of urine, such as kidney stones, tumors, or other structural problems.

Read more: What Are the First UTI Symptoms?

Dr. Anthony Kouri, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Toledo Medical Center, tells LIVESTRONG.com the more common symptoms of a kidney infection include, fever, chills, back or flank pain, burning sensation when urinating, blood in the urine and a strong urge to urinate. If you are experiencing these symptoms, Kouri says that it is incredibly important to see your physician.

Your doctor will come up with a treatment plan that fits your needs, but more than likely, the first line of defense will be antibiotics that you take at home. If the infection is severe or you're vomiting, you may be required to stay in the hospital to receive IV antibiotics. You can reduce the kidney infection recovery time by following your doctor's instructions and making certain lifestyle changes including, staying hydrated, urinating fully and urinating after sex.

Exercise With a Kidney Infection

Unfortunately, there is limited information on how to exercise when you have a kidney infection. That said, there are some general guidelines for participating in physical activity while dealing with chronic pain that you may want to consider.

For example, the Mayo Clinic says exercising with chronic pain, such as the pain that comes with back issues or kidney infections, can help you manage symptoms and improve your health. They also point out that one of the best reasons to engage in aerobic exercise is for the release of endorphins, which are the feel-good chemicals that act as your body's natural painkillers.

Read more: Can You Work Out With Back Pain?

Once you resume your routine, one issue to be aware of, says Kouri is how being dehydrated can make a kidney infection worse. That's why it is so important to keep your body hydrated before, during and after exercise.

Plus, by staying hydrated, Kouri says you will urinate more, which helps flush out bacteria in the urinary tract. "You are often slightly dehydrated when experiencing a kidney infection, so you should be drinking more water than usual while exercising," says Kouri.

When it comes to the duration of exercise, the Mayo Clinic suggests doing 30 to 45 minutes of low-intensity aerobic exercise a minimum of four days per week. Activities such as brisk walking, swimming and riding a stationary bike are all acceptable forms of low-intensity exercise.

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