Kidney stones are small, hard deposits that can form in your kidneys. They are composed of various minerals and salts that have become concentrated in your urine and can vary in size from a grain of sand to a pea or even larger. Although some kidney stones may pass from the body without too much pain, others may cause a considerable amount of pain as they attempt to leave the body.
Types of Kidney Stones
There are four types of kidney stones that may cause pain as they move from the kidney:
- Calcium oxalate stones: made of a combination of calcium and oxalate, compounds that are found in a variety of foods. They are the most common type of kidney stone.
- Uric acid stones: comprised of uric acid, which forms due to high levels of purines. They are the second most common type of kidney stone.
- Struvite stones: made of magnesium, ammonium, and phosphate, and are often caused by an infection in the urinary tract.
- Cystine stones: composed of the amino acid cystine. They are the rarest type of kidney stone and usually run in families.
Symptoms of Kidney Stones
Some signs and symptoms that you may be experiencing one of the above kidney stones include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blood in the urine
- Frequent or painful urination
- Fever and chills
- Cloudy urine
Kidney stones often do not cause any symptoms until they begin to move through the urinary tract.
When Do Kidney Stones Start Hurting?
You may have kidney stones for years without realizing that there is anything wrong. You won’t experience any pain from a kidney stone until it moves from the kidney into the ureters, which are the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder.
Although many kidney stones pass through your urinary tract with no pain or discomfort, some begin to hurt when they become lodged in the ureters. As the stones get stuck, they block the flow of urine, resulting in severe pain in your abdomen, groin, or back.
Another factor that may affect when kidney stones hurt is how large the stone is. Although some are very small, some kidney stones can grow up to the size of a golf ball. With larger kidney stones, they may cause more irritation to your urinary tract, leading to more pain.
How to Treat Painful Kidney Stones
If you are experiencing discomfort due to a kidney stone, there are numerous home remedies that you can try to ease the passing:
- Drink plenty of water
- Try drinking diluted apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- Avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks
- Eat diuretic foods
However, if you’re in severe pain, you may have a stone that is too large to pass naturally. If this is the case, you may need to seek treatment from a nephrologist, who is able to prescribe medications that can help pass a kidney stone faster. If medications are not successful in passing your stone, you may need surgery. The most common types of surgeries for this condition are:
A ureteroscopy is a procedure that utilizes a ureteroscope to look inside the ureters and bladder. A ureteroscope is a thin, light tube that is inserted through the urethra and into the bladder. The scope is then used to identify and remove stones from the urinary tract.
Shockwave lithotripsy is a procedure used to break up kidney stones. During this procedure, high-intensity sound waves are directed at the stones to break them into smaller pieces that can be passed through the urinary tract.
A percutaneous nephrolithotomy is a surgical procedure used to remove kidney stones when they cannot be treated by less invasive methods. During this surgery, a small incision is made in the back, and a nephroscope is inserted into the kidney to locate and remove the stones.
Get Kidney Stone Treatment at Summit Medical Clinic
If you believe you may have a kidney stone, it’s essential to see a nephrologist at Summit Medical Clinic for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. With proper treatment, most kidney stones can successfully be removed without any lasting damage. Contact Summit Medical Clinic today to learn more about our various kidney stone treatments.