Can Kidney Stone Symptoms Come And Go
The length of time a stone can hang around is the primary reason that a person may feel like kidney stone symptoms come and go.
Once you start feeling the pain of a kidney stone, it can take anywhere between one to four weeks for the stone to actually pass. In the meantime, the pain can seem sporadic. Here’s why:
“During a bout of kidney stones, the initial pain is typically caused by the stone making its way through your very narrow ureter tube. There can also be pain if the stone lodges itself there and blocks urine flow out of the kidney, which results in pressure buildup and painful swelling,” explains Dr. Kannady.
As your body tries to move the kidney stone through your ureter, some of your pain may also be from the waves of contractions used to force the kidney stone out. The pain may also move as the kidney stone moves along your urinary tract.
“Once the stone makes it to your bladder, the pain might subside to some degree and you may notice urinary symptoms in its place. The final push from your bladder to outside of your body can reignite sharp feelings of pain, as the stone is now passing through another narrow tube called your urethra,” says Dr. Kannady.
How To Relieve Kidney Stone Pain
This article was co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD. Dr. Chris M. Matsko is a retired physician based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With over 25 years of medical research experience, Dr. Matsko was awarded the Pittsburgh Cornell University Leadership Award for Excellence. He holds a BS in Nutritional Science from Cornell University and an MD from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Dr. Matsko earned a Research Writing Certification from the American Medical Writers Association in 2016 and a Medical Writing & Editing Certification from the University of Chicago in 2017.There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 80,334 times.
Kidney stones can be extremely painful. If you are dealing with pain caused by kidney stones, there are several things that you can try to help ease kidney stone pain. Make sure that you see a doctor for help treating your kidney stones because kidney stones may become worse without proper medical treatment. Your doctor may recommend some home remedies or prescribe a prescription pain reliever depending on the severity of your kidney stone pain.
Part 2 Of 3: Identifying Differing Symptoms
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What Kidney Stone Pain Feels Like And Where Youll Feel It
Not all kidney stone pain is the same. For example, the location of pain can change as the stone moves from the kidney to the bladder, says Lieske. When a stone is moving into the ureter, people may feel pain in their flank, or side, or their back, he says.
Notably, if the stone is stuck where the kidney connects to the ureter, the pain can be severe, says Ralph V. Clayman, MD, a professor in the department of urology at the University of California in Irvine. On a scale of 1 to 10, pain can be a 10, he says.; There is no position in which the person is comfortable.
This type of pain has a tendency to come and go in 10- to 30-minute cycles. It can also radiate to the groin area and the front of the thigh, he adds.
Once the stone has moved down to the part of the ureter closer to the bladder, a person tends to have pain in the abdomen or groin, says Lieske. Men sometimes feel pain at the tip of their penis.
As the stone moves down the ureter, it can also mimic the pain of other conditions, says Clayman. For example, if the kidney stone is on the right side of the body, it may feel like appendicitis, or inflammation of the appendix. If the stone is on the left side, people may mistake the pain for diverticulitis, inflammation, or an infection within the small or large intestine, he says.
Fortunately, from this point, the stone can usually pass from the bladder out the urethra, which is typically twice the diameter of the ureter, says Clayman.
How Common Are Kidney Stones
Researchers have concluded that about one in ten people will get a kidney stone during their lifetime. Kidney stones in children are far less common than in adults but they occur for the same reasons. Theyre four times more likely to occur in children with asthma than in children who dont have asthma.
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Whats The Urinary Tract How Does It Work
Your urinary tract is vital to your body because it gets rid of waste and extra fluid. Its made up of both your kidneys, two ureters, your bladder and your urethra. Each organ has an important job :
- Kidneys: Your fist-sized, bean-shaped kidneys are located on either side of your spine, below your rib cage. Each day they filter 120 to 150 quarts of your blood to remove waste and balance fluids. Your kidneys make one to two quarts of urine every day.
- Ureters: After your kidney creates urine, the liquid travels through the tube-shaped ureter to the bladder. There is one ureter per kidney. Kidney stones can pass through the ureters or, if theyre too big, get stuck in them. You may require surgery if the stone is too large.
- Bladder: Between your hip bones is your bladder, an organ that stores urine. It stretches to hold about one and a half to two cups.
- Urethra: Like a ureter, your urethra is a tube through which urine passes. Its the final stop of the urinary tract where your urine leaves your body. This is called urination.
Reducing Kidney Stone Risk
Drinking enough fluid will help keep your urine less concentrated with waste products. Darker urine is more concentrated, so your urine should appear very light yellow to clear if you are well hydrated. Most of the fluid you drink should be water. Most people should drink more than 12 glasses of water a day. Speak with a healthcare professional about the right amount of water that’s best for you. Water is better than soda, sports drinks or coffee/tea. lf you exercise or if it is hot outside, you should drink more. Sugar and high-fructose corn syrup should be limited to small quantities.
Eat more fruits and vegetables, which make the urine less acid. When the urine is less acid, then stones may be less able to form. Animal protein produces urine that has more acid, which can then increase your risk for kidney stones.
You can reduce excess salt in your diet. What foods are high in salt? Everyone thinks of salty potato chips and French fries. Those should be rarely eaten. There are other products that are salty: sandwich meats, canned soups, packaged meals, and even sports drinks.
Some herbal substances are promoted as helping prevent stones. You should know that there is insufficient published medical evidence to support the use of any herb or supplement in preventing stones.
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What Is Kidney Pain
Kidney pain is discomfort that comes from the area where your kidneys are. It’s often described as a dull ache, you feel in your sides, back, or belly. But pain in these areas isn’t always a sign of a kidney issue. It’s easy to mistake kidney pain for ordinary back pain. But there are some differences in how kidney pain feels and where it’s located compared to back pain.
Kidney pain has many possible causes, and some could be serious. It’s important to let your doctor know if you notice pain that you think may be coming from one or both of these organs.
Where are your kidneys?
Your kidneys are two small organs shaped like beans. You have one on each side of your body. They’re each about the size of your fist. They’re below your rib cage on both sides of your spinal cord.
Your kidneys have important jobs. They clean out water, acids, and waste from your blood. They make urine so your body flushes out the waste. If they’re diseased or damaged in some way, they can’t do their work to maintain a healthy balance of salts, minerals like calcium, and water in your blood.
Your kidneys also make hormones that help you manage your blood pressure, keep your bones strong, and make red blood cells.
So it’s important to watch for any signs of kidney disease or damage, like pain.
Why Do Kidney Stones Cause Pain
Kidney stones vary in size. Some are very small and some large enough as much as a few inches across. Some kidney stones can become so large they take up the entire hollow space within the kidney.
Some kidney stones may not produce symptoms such as pain. These are known as “silent” stones. But people who have kidney stones generally experience sudden onset of excruciating, cramping pain.
Small sized stones can travel from kidney to bladder through ureters and thus excrete out with urine. But sometimes, the large sized stones get blocked in the ureters which can block the passage of urine to the bladder. It is then that these stones result in severe unbearable pain.
Read about symptoms of and complications due to kidney stones here: Kidney Stones Symptoms and Complications
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Causes Of Kidney Stones
The most common cause of kidney stones isdehydration. Youre not drinking enough water to dilute the concentration of minerals in your urine .;Recommended water consumption is about two liters or half a gallon of water a day.
Water is the best fluid to drink in order to prevent kidney stones, Dr. Abromowitz explains. But water from a well is very high in solutes, which increases your chance of kidney stones. So i f you’re drinking well water, you ought to have a purification system on it. Every year I see patients who develop a kidney stone for this reason.
Other kidney stone risk factors include:
- Too little or too much exercise
- Being overweight
- Eating food with excess salt, sugar, and animal protein
- Weight loss surgery
- Kidney infections. Infections increase the risk of kidney stones by slowing urine flow or changing the acid balance of urine.
- Family history of kidney stones
- Some drugs used to treat AIDS, seizures, and migraines can cause kidney stones.
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Besides being painful, what arekidney stones?
Theyre solid formations of minerals and salts that crystalize in urine in the kidneys when concentrations are high. They can be as tiny as a grain of sand to pebble-size and larger. And they can develop at any age, from infants to the elderly.;
Although some stones remain in the kidneys, others travel through the ureter and into the bladder, explains Howard Abromowitz, MD.
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Let Kidney Stones Pass
Stones typically take several weeks to a few months to pass, depending on the number of stones and their size. Over-the-counter pain medications, like ibuprofen , acetaminophen , or naproxen , can help you endure the discomfort until the stones pass. Your doctor also may prescribe an alpha blocker, which relaxes the muscles in your ureter and helps pass stones quicker and with less pain.
If the pain becomes too severe, or if they are too large to pass, they can be surgically removed with a procedure called a ureteroscopy. Here, a small endoscope is passed into the bladder and up the ureter while you are under general anesthesia. A laser breaks up the stones, and then the fragments are removed.
What Is A Kidney Stone
A kidney stone is a hard object that is made from chemicals in the urine. There are four types of kidney stones: calcium oxalate, uric acid, struvite, and cystine. A kidney stone may be treated with shockwave lithotripsy, uteroscopy, percutaneous nephrolithomy or nephrolithotripsy. Common symptoms include severe pain in lower back, blood in your urine, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, or urine that smells bad or looks cloudy.
Urine has various wastes dissolved in it. When there is too much waste in too little liquid, crystals begin to form. The crystals attract other elements and join together to form a solid that will get larger unless it is passed out of the body with the urine. Usually, these chemicals are eliminated in the urine by the body’s master chemist: the kidney. In most people, having enough liquid washes them out or other chemicals in urine stop a stone from forming. The stone-forming chemicals are calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
After it is formed, the stone may stay in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract into the ureter. Sometimes, tiny stones move out of the body in the urine without causing too much pain. But stones that don’t move may cause a back-up of urine in the kidney, ureter, the bladder, or the urethra. This is what causes the pain.
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Can A Large Kidney Stone Cause An Injury
Your risk of injury from a kidney stone can go up based on the size and location of the stone. A larger stone could get stuck in a ureter, causing pressure to build up. This can lead to renal failure and, in the worst-case scenario, you could lose your kidney. The chance of passing a 1 cm stone is less than 10%, and stones larger than 1 cm typically dont pass.
What Causes Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are formed from substances in your urine. The substances that combine into stones normally pass through your urinary system. When they dont, its because there isnt enough urine volume, causing the substances to become highly concentrated and to crystalize. This is typically a result of not drinking enough water. The stone-forming substances are:
- Cloudy, foul-smelling urine, fever, chills or weakness which might be a sign of a serious infection.
- Blood in the urine.
Most pediatric kidney stones remain in the kidney, but up to a third may migrate from the kidney and get stuck in a ureter. Stones that remain in the kidney, although often painless, can be the source of recurrent urinary tract infections. Those that lodge in the ureter can create severe colicky pain.
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When To Contact A Doctor
A person who is experiencing kidney pain should contact a doctor as soon as possible to find out what is causing it.
People must contact a doctor to diagnose and treat kidney pain. Receiving the correct treatment ensures that the kidneys do not become damaged, which can lead to kidney failure.
Doctors may order tests such as:
- urine tests, which can help them identify any infections
- imaging tests, such as CT or ultrasound scans
- cytology, which can help them identify cancer cells in the urine
How To Distinguish Between Kidney Pain And Back Pain
This article was medically reviewed by Sarah Gehrke, RN, MS. Sarah Gehrke is a Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist in Texas. Sarah has over 10 years of experience teaching and practicing phlebotomy and intravenous therapy using physical, psychological, and emotional support. She received her Massage Therapist License from the Amarillo Massage Therapy Institute in 2008 and a M.S. in Nursing from the University of Phoenix in 2013. This article has been viewed 255,777 times.
When you are having pain in your back, you may not automatically know what it causing it. It can be very difficult to recognize the differences between pain originating in your back and pain coming from your kidneys. However, the difference is all in the details. In order to distinguish between kidney and back pain you need to concentrate on identifying exactly where the pain is located, how constant it is, and whether there are any other symptoms you are experiencing. If you can identify the details, you should be able to distinguish between kidney and back pain.
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