Kidney stones occur when there isn’t enough water in your urinary tract to fully flush out salt and minerals. When that happens, stones can form as concentrated uric acid, salt, minerals, and other solid particles in the urine dry out and crystalize. These stones can grow large enough to block the ureter so urine cannot easily pass to the bladder. That’s usually when stones are the most painful.
Some men and women get kidney stones due to genetic reasons. If you have a family history of kidney stones, your chances of getting them are much higher. In some cases, certain medical conditions, like gout, can increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
Kidney stones form in your kidney and as long as they stay put, they usually don’t bother you unless they grow large enough to damage the interior of the kidney. But once a stone dislodges from the kidney it can cause a blockage and pain. You may experience:
It’s possible to have a small stone pass without you feeling much. You may see a brownish color in your urine, which is probably blood from irritation caused by the stone. Ideally, the stone will have passed on its own, and your urine will return to its normal color soon. If your urine’s color stays the same, call Urology Associates Medical Group and have this bleeding diagnosed.
Your practitioner can order imaging, such as an ultrasound, to see exactly where the kidney stone is located, and its size, to see if it can pass on its own. Smaller stones may be left to pass on their own, and the urologist may give you pain medication and instruct you to drink plenty of fluids until it passes.
When a stone causes a blockage of urine flow, you might have to undergo extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). This non-invasive procedure — done right in the office — breaks up the kidney stones through shock waves. You’ll pass the sand-like particles of what’s left of the stone in your urine over the next couple of days.
If the stone isn’t likely to pass and lithotripsy isn’t an option, your doctor may need to use a scope to go in through your urethra and into the bladder, ureter, or kidney to grab the stone. A stent (small tube) may be left in your ureter to help with drainage during healing.
Some difficult, or very large, stones may be removed through surgery through your back to the kidney.
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