Kidney Stones

The pain begins as an ache in the back and side (the flank). Then, it becomes constant and severe as the urinary system tries to rid itself of the stone. Sometimes, there is burning during urination, blood in the urine, or a frequent urge to urinate. Nausea and vomiting may occur, and the lower abdomen or flank may be painful, if touched.

Back pain from kidney stones can be on the right or left side of the back and side. All these symptoms are hallmarks of kidney stones. More than half a million people will develop kidney stones this year, and over one third of these patients are likely to be hospitalized.

The economic costs of kidney stones are enormous. Stones tend to develop in the middle years of life when family and work commitments – and the economic effects of time lost to illness – are at their peak.

The purpose of this section of the site is to shed light on kidney stones: what causes kidney stones, who gets them, what kinds of treatment are available, and how kidney stones could be prevented. Kidney stones is a very painful condition which afflicts a large section of the population. Although there are several different types of kidney stones, a majority of them contain calcium. The kidney stone or renal calculus may go unnoticed for several years and only cause problems as it begins to descend from the kidney to the bladder through a tube called the ureter. When the kidney stone blocks the urine from its normal transit, severe pain ensues. The pain is usually described as “the worst pain I have ever felt,” starts in the back and frequently travels around the stomach to the groin region. Other symptoms of kidney stones may include blood in the urine or frequent urination.

Kidney stones can be managed by a variety of treatments, such as:

  • Watchful waiting where liberal amounts of pain medication are given.
  • Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) where a patient has the stone blasted from outside the body, requiring very little anesthesia.
  • Invasive methods which include passing small telescopes up the ureter to engage the stone, break it apart, and remove it to open surgical removal.

Your best means of avoiding kidney stones is to increase your water intake, especially during the hot summer months.