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Kidney Stones

Kidney Stones

When a tubular structure is blocked in the body, pain is generated in waves as the body tries to unblock the obstruction. These waves of pain are called colic.

  • Renal colic (renal is the medical term for things related to the kidney) has a classic presentation when a kidney stone is being passed.
    • The pain is intense and comes on suddenly.
    • It is usually located in the flank or the side of the mid back and radiates to the groin. Those affected cannot find a comfortable position, and many writhe in pain.
    • This is opposed to non-colicky type pain, like appendicitis  or pancreatitis, where movement causes increased pain and affected persons hold very still.
  • Sweating, nausea and vomiting are common.
  • Blood may be visible in the urine because the stone has irritated the ureter. Blood in the urine, however, does not always mean a person has a kidney stone. There may be other reasons for the blood, including kidney and bladder infections, trauma, or tumors. Urinalysis with a microscope may detect blood even if it is not appreciated by the naked eye. Sometimes, if the stone causes complete obstruction, there may be no blood in the urine because it cannot get past the stone.
Self-Care at Home
  • Prevention is always the preferable way to treat kidney stones. Remaining well hydrated and keeping the urine dilute will help prevent kidney stones from forming.
  • Those who have never passed a kidney stone may not appreciate the severity of the symptoms. There is little a person can do with debilitating pain and vomiting other than seek emergency care. If this is the first episode and no previous diagnosis has been established, it is important to be seen by a physician as well. For those who have a history of stones, then home therapy may be appropriate. Most kidney stones, given time, will pass on their own, and treatment is directed towards symptom control. The patient should be instructed to consume oral fluids. Ibuprofen can be used as an anti-inflammatory agent, and if further pain medication is needed, contacting the primary care provider may allow stronger narcotic pain medication to be prescribed.
  • Please note, if there is fever associated with the symptoms of a kidney stone, this becomes a more urgent problem, and medical care should be accessed immediately.

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