Where Do Kidney Stones Hurt?

One of the most common problems of the urinary tract is kidney stones. On occasion, urine created by the kidneys contains small mineral deposits. When these deposits bind together, they make kidney stones. Because they can be as small as a salt crystal or as large as a golf ball, they do not draw attention unless the stones block the urinary tract. If they break free from the kidneys as they filter waste, severe pain can ensue as they travel to the bladder. Knowing where kidney stones hurt can assist you in seeking proper treatment.

Where do Kidney Stones Hurt?

Woman Clenching Stomach

The main symptom of this disorder is pain in the sides of the back and the abdomen area. The pain can start off mild and then grow more intense over time. As the kidney stones make their way through your system, so does the pain. It can start in your side above your pelvis and below the ribs. This can cause lower back and upper abdominal pain. It may travel from there to the groin area as it enters the urinary tract.

How does the Pain Feel?

Pain associated with kidney stones can come and go or be persistently present. Sometimes it will worsen and then diminish, only to pop up again in 15 minutes. On other occasions, it can be constant but its intensity changes as the stones travel through your system.

Other Symptoms of Kidney Stones

If your kidney stones are very small, you probably won't have any symptoms. You may even pass them through your urine and not even know they were there. Where do kidney stones hurt ? This depends a lot on how large they are.

Causes of kidney stone symptoms:

  • A stone gets lodged in your kidney.
  • A stone gets stuck in your ureter because it is too narrow for it to travel to the bladder.
  • A stone blocks your urinary tract system and causes an infection.

Kidney stone symptoms:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Intense pain below ribs, on side of body and back
  • Red, pink or brown urine
  • Pain situated in groin and lower abdomen
  • Persistently feeling need to urinate
  • Pain that comes and goes as well as changes in intensity
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Smelly or cloudy urine
  • Urinating more or only small amounts at a time
  • Fever accompanied with chills
  • Shifting pain as kidney stone moves through urinary tract

Blocked Ureter and Kidney Infection

An infection may occur if a kidney stone blocks the pathway between the kidney and the bladder. Bacteria get trapped, building up waste products in a concentrated area.

A kidney infection has very similar symptoms to kidney stones, but may differ to include:

  • Diarrhea
  • High fever over 100 Fahrenheit
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Foul-smelling and cloudy urine
  • Shivers and chills

Diagnosing Kidney Stones

Where do kidney stones hurt? Well, the pain travels. If you have any doubt, see a doctor. At your doctor's appointment, your physician may order diagnostic tests if kidney stones are suspected. These tests include:

  • Urine tests – analyzes urine to measure mineral content, possibly collected over 2 days for 24-hour analysis.
  • Blood tests – measures calcium and uric acid content in your urine to see if levels are high.
  • Imaging tests – possible imaging tests include x-rays, CT scans, and ultrasound and may utilize dye to get a better look at kidneys, bladder, urinary tract and possible kidney stones in your system.
  • Kidney stone analysis – stones are caught in strainer as you urinate so composition can be analyzed and a prevention plan can be developed.

How Are Kidney Stones Managed?

Small stones with a diameter of less than 4mm are usually passed in urine at home and require little attention. Typically, the pain will pass, along with the stone, in a matter of a few days. However, if a small stone causes great discomfort and severe pain, you may have to be hospitalized. Your course of treatment will be determined by your symptoms, which include:

1.   Self-Care

If self-care is appropriate, you will be advised to drink plenty of water. Your urine should be colorless. You will have to urinate through a strainer or collect your urine and filter it through gauze in order to recover your kidney stone. Your doctor will then send it in for analysis.

2.   Medication

If your pain is too intense, your doctor may give you an injection of pain medication. If you are nauseated as well, you may also get an anti-sickness medication injection. Both medications can also be prescribed for you to take at home.

3.   Hospital Admission

If you are in extreme pain, your doctor may admit you to the hospital. This may occur when a kidney stone gets lodged in your ureter, you become dehydrated, medication is not helping you, you are pregnant or you are over 60 years old.

4.   Treatment of Large Kidney Stones

If you have a kidney stone greater than 7mm, your doctor may recommend a different kind of procedure to remove it. The size of your stone will determine the treatment options:

  • Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy: This technique utilizes ultrasound to send waves to your kidney stone to break it up into small pieces. If successful, you will be able to pass the fragments through your urine. A painkiller is often given during the procedure to minimize discomfort.
  • Ureteroscopy: If you have a stone lodged in your ureter, your may have to have a thin, long telescopy inserted in it so that a surgeon can remove it. Sometimes laser energy is used to break it up into small fragments so it can pass through your urine. A general anesthesia is usually administered.
  • Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy: When extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy cannot be used, a surgeon may try this technique instead. A nephroscope is inserted through a small incision in your back and guided to your kidney. The small telescopic instrument can help the surgeon either administer laser wave or remove the stone. Typically, this treatment option is used for stones between 20-30mm. You will have to be under general anesthesia during the procedure.
  • Open Surgery is only used on rare occasions when no other treatment option is available. It is so rare that only 1% of kidney stones are removed this way and usually it is because the stone is unusually large. You will be put under general anesthesia and a surgeon will make an incision in your back. From this point, the stone will be removed from either your kidney or ureter.

5.   Treating Uric Acid Stones

Uric acid kidney stones are very soft compared to other stones. If you expose them to alkaline fluids, they can shrink. Your doctor may give you medication that makes your urine alkaline-rich, especially if drinking large amounts of water does not help. Once smaller, the stones can pass through when you urinate.