Kidney stones, also known as nephrolithiasis, are clusters of hard substances like calcium that are usually deposited inside the kidney. However, they can form in any part of the urinary tract. These stones are formed when the concentration of the urine increases too much, meaning that the fluid part in the urine decreases and the minerals and salts increase. Also, some components in the urine which prevent this from happening, they also considerably decrease in quantity. Because of this, the minerals and salts stick to each other forming clusters and thus forming stones.
There are different types and causes of stones. These types and causes are related to each other. The four types of kidney stones are calcium stones, uric acid stones, cystine stones and Struvite stones.
Where is the Pain with Kidney Stones?
When located in the kidneys at one place, kidney stones do not cause pain or any other severe symptoms as such, but while moving in the kidney or from the kidney into the ureter or bladder or beyond, kidney stones may cause severe pain, especially if the size of the stone is very large. This happens because the stone irritates the walls of the organs of the urinary tract, causing bruises and thereby causes pain. At times, urine may contain blood because of this very same reason.
The original cause of the kidney stones might be anything, but the pain element remains the same in all of them, and it largely depends on the location and the size of the stone. The pain may be in the sides or the back; it may be even below the ribcage. The kidney stones pain may at times start in the back and may radiate to the groin and lower abdomen. There may be pain at the time of passing of the urine. The pain may be in intermittent episodes, meaning that it comes and goes in bouts. Similarly, the site of the pain may also change, and so can the degree of pain, as the stone changes its position in the urinary tract and moves from one place to the other. At times, the pain may be so severe that it may make finding a comfortable position indeed very difficult. Because of such level of pain, there may be a feeling of nausea or vomiting. If there is a urinary tract infection, then there might also be a high-grade fever with chills, along with severe pain.
Other signs and symptoms may also be present along with pain. These symptoms may include brown or pink coloured urine because of the presence of blood in it, sometimes there could be a foul smell in the urine, sometimes there may be difficulty in passing urine. Nausea and vomiting could be present. There may be a persistent urge to urinate and it might be accompanied with incomplete urination, due to the blockage caused by the stones. Also, the amount of urine passed might be quite less, due to the blockage.
The treatment for kidney stones is broadly categorised in two types- the non-invasive treatment and the invasive treatment. The non-invasive method includes simple things like drinking more water and fluids, taking medication to help relax the ureter muscles so that the stone can pass easily and with minimal pain. It may also include taking some pain killer medicines to alleviate the pain caused during the passage of the stone. Invasive method may include lithotripsy (using sound waves), surgery, and ureteroscopy.
Even after the treatment is carried out and the kidney stones are removed, one needs to follow certain lifestyle changes and some preventive measures so that the stones do not develop again. Most importantly, the quantity of water and other fluids consumed must be increased considerably, so that the urine doesn’t become concentrated. Whatever the type of the stone, and the treatment used, it is necessary to follow these changes and some medications must be taken if necessary.
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