At Urology Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California, our providers help accurately diagnose the cause of painful urination, whether it’s kidney stones or something else, and then provide proper treatment.
We want to stress that painful urination requires professional diagnosis and treatment. But it’s good to be informed about potential causes of urinary discomfort, so you understand why seeing a doctor is so critical for your health.
Kidney stone basics
Kidney stones affect around 1 in 10 Americans at some point in their life. Men are slightly more likely to suffer from kidney stones than women and have more trouble passing them, due to their longer urethra.
Kidney stones form when there are high concentrations of certain chemical compounds in your urine. These substances include calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate.
Typically, the substances don’t accumulate enough to stick together and form a stone, as the kidney processes enough liquid to flush them out.
But if a stone does form, it can eventually travel out of your kidneys and into your urinary tract. First the stone goes through the ureter, which connects the kidney to the bladder, and then the stone can travel from the bladder into the urethra.
The edges of these stones are typically jagged and sharp, which means they can get stuck in any part of the urinary tract, causing intense pain.
But there are plenty of other causes of painful urination, including sexually transmitted diseases and infections of the bladder or urinary tract, so you need expert confirmation that you have kidney stones.
Additional symptoms specific to kidney stones
You’re more likely to have kidney stones rather than another type of infection if you’re also experiencing some or all of the following symptoms:
- Red, pink, or brown urine (indicating blood in your urine)
- Dark, cloudy, or foul-smelling urine
- Needing to urinate very frequently
- Urinating just a small amount at a time
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Low back pain on one side
- Abdominal pain on one side
- Pain in your groin
The more of these symptoms you have, the more likely it is that you have kidney stones and need to see a professional as soon as possible. Even if you only have one or two symptoms, it could still be kidney stones or another potentially serious medical issue that requires attention from your urologist.
Diagnosis and treatment for kidney stones
In most cases, we can confirm that you have kidney stones with an ultrasound. If the kidney stone is small and/or already passing through the urethra, pain medications paired with hydration often allow the stone to pass without incident.
For larger stones, extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL) can turn the stone into tiny, sand-like particles. This noninvasive procedure uses sound waves aimed directly at the stone and repeated a few hundred or a few thousand times in rapid succession to break up the stone.
If ESWL isn’t an option, we may be able to use a catheter to go up through your urethra to grab and remove the stone. In rare cases, we might recommend surgery to remove stones directly from the kidneys.
If you’re experiencing painful urination, schedule an appointment with a specialist at Urological Associates Medical Group in Burbank, California. Call us today.