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What to Expect if You Get Kidney Stones

by Arkansas Urology on Monday, January 15, 2018

Drinking lots of water, eating foods with vitamins and getting plenty of exercise are all excellent ways to stay healthy and potentially prevent kidney stones, however, for some people this will not be enough. Should you develop a kidney stone though, you need to know what to expect.

Most patients who develop kidney stones don’t realize they have them until they begin experiencing pain. This can be felt as a burning sensation when urinating or when you have a need to urinate, but more often it is felt as a pain in the lower abdomen or back that can be sharp and sudden. This pain is often strong enough to send a patient to the emergency room. It’s important to have sharp lower abdomen or back pain treated because this type of pain is indicative of many other illnesses that can be very serious if left unchecked.

Your doctor may use a blood test to check for high mineral levels, but will more than likely use a form of imaging test like x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan to look for the stone(s) themselves. You will also be asked to provide a urine sample.

Treatment of kidney stones will often consist of a “watch and wait,” approach that may include medications prescribed for pain management. It is critical to drink a lot of water during this time to help flush out the kidney stone and potentially break it apart. While urination may be painful, it is the only way to pass the stone without additional assistance. Drinking cranberry juice may help to break apart kidney stones further and/or prevent infection.

Stones 10mm in size or smaller can be passed on their own, but stones that show little to no signs of moving or are too large to pass will be treated with medication, shock wave therapy or ureteroscopy. Alpha-Beta blockers help relax the uterine wall so that stones pass more easily. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) uses high-frequency waves to break large stones into smaller, passable pieces. Ureteroscopy uses a thin tube in the urinary tract that allows the doctor to break apart the stone and remove the pieces through the tube. These treatments are typically sufficient for most large stones, but unusually large stones may require surgical removal.

With proper hydration, professional consultation and plenty of rest, kidney stones should pass within a few weeks uneventfully and with minimal discomfort. If you suspect you may have a kidney stone, or have experienced any pain similar to that described in this article, you should call your urologist and schedule an appointment. Contact Arkansas Urology online or call 877-321-8452 to speak directly with a provider, today.