Kidney stones are the most excruciating pain most people will ever experience. Many physicians equate it to the pain of child birth and they are far more common than you would think. It is even possible that you have a kidney stone currently, but are not aware because symptoms have not yet presented themselves as the kidney stone is not large enough.
What are kidney stones? Kidney stones are hard formations of minerals that form within the kidney and if small enough, pass through the urinary tract from the kidney, to the ureter, to the bladder, and exit the body through the urethra. Those surveyed by WebMD describe kidney stone pain as “the worst pain they’ve ever had.”
What causes kidney stones? Kidney stones are abnormalities caused by a variety of reasons. In short:
Kidney stone home remedies:
Surgery is not the only option for kidney stones. There are kidney stone home remedies that are effective in getting rid of kidney stones.
Combinations of certain types of foods and vitamins can remedy kidney stone pain, prevent, and cure kidney stones such as:
- Lemon juice, raw apple cider vinegar plus olive oil: Start by mixing olive oil with lemon juice extract into 12 ounces of water. After 30 minutes, mix 0.5 ounces of lemon juice with 12 ounces of water and add one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar, then drink. Repeat this every hour as needed.
- Uva Ursi: For most effective results, take 500mb’s two times per day. Uva Ursi helps combat kidney infections that can sometimes follow kidney stones. Additionally, Uva Ursi also assists with pain reduction and cleansing of the urinary tract.
- Dandelion Root: Take 500mb’s twice per day. Dandelion root has been used for years to treat and manage the symptoms associated with kidney stones. In addition to relieving some of the pain symptoms of kidney stones, organic dandelion root functions helps by cleansing the urinary tract.
- Kidney Beans: It isn’t all in a name. Extract the beans from the pods and boil the beans in water for at least 6 hours. Take a cheese cloth and strain the liquid. Let cool and then drink.
- Horsetail: Drink 4 cups of horsetail tea a day until your kidney stone passes. Horsetail tea is the equivalent of two grams of thyme.
- Pomegranate Juice: The acerbic and caustic properties of pomegranate fruit help with making an environment within the kidney not conducive to kidney stone formation. Drink one glass of freshly juiced pomegranate juice a day.
- Magnesium: Take at least 300 milligrams of magnesium a day. This helps prevent the formation of kidney stones within the kidney.
- Organic Celery: Consuming celery or celery seeds regularly will help prevent the creation of kidney stones and reduce symptoms associated with kidney stones.
- Basil: Basil tea helps promote kidney health and reduce the chances of forming kidney stones.
- Vitamin B6: Take at least 100 to 150 mg’s of Vitamin B6 daily to reduce the possibility of forming kidney stones.
How common are kidney stones?
Over 1 million people a year get kidney stones and they are one of the most common ailments of the urinary tract.
In the United States alone, 1 in 11 people, or 8.8% of the population get kidney stones. They affect both men and women and are more common in men, the overweight and obese, pregnant women, and non-Hispanic Caucasians.
How do I know if I have a kidney stone?
Diagnosis of kidney stones will require your doctor to do a complete health history assessment and a physical exam.
Other tests include:
- blood tests for calcium, phosphorus, uric acid, and electrolytes
- blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine to assess kidney function
- urinalysis to check for crystals, bacteria, blood, and white cells
- examination of previously passed stones to determine type (your doctor may have you urinate into a fine grade screen regularly to catch stones in order for testing)
To rule out obstruction your doctor may perform:
- abdominal X-rays
- intravenous pyelogram (IVP)
- retrograde pyelogram
- ultrasound of the kidney (this is the preferred study)
- MRI of the abdomen and kidneys
- abdominal CT scan
Why are kidney stones so painful?
Many assume the most painful part of the kidney stone is the time it is exiting the body while passing through the urethra. This is not the case.
To fully understand the pain from kidney stones we need to examine the route of the stone to exit the body.
The Kidney Stone Process:
- The stone forms in the kidney due to the crystallization of minerals. (Most common: calcium, uric acid, struvite, and cystine)
- The stone eventually shifts from it’s position in the kidney and begins to pass down through the ureter. (The ureter is the connective tunnel from the kidney down into the bladder.)
- If and when the stone successfully passes through the ureter, it then enters the bladder.
- The kidney stone then passes through the urethra and out of the body through urination.
The agony attributed to kidney stones comes from the stone being too big to pass through the ureter and or the urethra.
A stone being unable to pass through the ureter is the most painful aspect of passing a kidney stone and is described by those who have experienced it as torture.
The stone lodges in the ureter trying to travel to the bladder and causes a variety of symptoms in the abdomen and in men, pain in the testicles. Kidney stone symptoms are some of the most painful symptoms you will experience.
- Painful sensation shooting down into the genitalia.
- Sharp pain in the abdomen on either the left or right side depending on what side the kidney stone is on. This pain presents in the area underneath the stomach and above your groin. You may confuse this pain as intestinal or gas pain. This can also present as sharp shooting pain as well.
- Dull aching pain in the abdomen on the side of the kidney stone that grows worse with time as more urine builds up behind the stone creating pressure. This pain usually begins with a manageable ache and builds to intolerable levels, causing nausea and vomiting inducing agony.
- Pain in the lower back on the side of the stone, more specifically, in the kidney. This pain happens from the kidney stone lodging itself in the ureter and being so large, it blocks the urine from draining from the kidney, causing the kidney to fill up and expand with urine becoming dilated. This pain is often described as someone reaching into your lower back, grabbing the kidney, and squeezing as hard as they can and not letting go.
- Nausea, vomiting, headache’s, fever – These are secondary symptoms from your body attempting to cope with the primary kidney stone pain.
How long does kidney stone pain last?
This pain is constant and can last anywhere from a few hours, a day, or longer until the stone passes or worse, requiring surgery if the stone is unable to pass as it is too large. How to pass a kidney stone depends on the size of the stone that you have.
Surgery for kidney stones:
Shock wave lithotripsy: A machine called a lithotripter is used to essentially crush the kidney stone. This is an outpatient procedure performed by a urologist.
This procedure requires the patient to lay on a table, or in some cases, a tub of water, above the lithotripter. The lithotripter sends shock waves through the patient’s body to break up the kidney stone into smaller pieces that are able to be passed more easily through the ureter and urethra.
This procedure is good for: smaller, less dense, stones that are too big to pass through the ureter.
Ureteroscopy: A ureteroscope, which is a long, pencil width tubelike instrument with an eyepiece is passed through the urethra, into the bladder, and up into the ureter and into the kidney if need be, to find and retrieve the stone with a small basket or to break the stone up with laser energy.
This procedure is done by a Urologist typically in a hospital with the use of anesthesia. The stone is retrieved and then pulled out through the ureter, then bladder, then urethra and out of the body. If the stone is too large, a flexible laser attachment is affixed to the end of the ureteroscope and reinserted into the body to break up the kidney stone. The pieces are then extracted or left to pass through the urinary tract as they are now smaller and more manageable.
This procedure is good for: larger, more dense, stones that are too big to pass through the ureter.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy: This procedure uses an instrument called a nephroscope which is a tube like instrument that is inserted directly into the side of the body under anesthesia in a hospital.
The nephroscope is guided into the kidney by a guide wire that is inserted either in the patient’s side or lower back directly next to the kidney, and is used to locate the stone or stones and then extract them.
For larger stones, an ultrasonic probe is used to break up the stones into smaller pieces which are then extracted using the nephroscope.
The patient may remain in the hospital for several days following the surgical procedure for testing.
A tube called a nephrostomy tube remains after the surgery for 1 week that goes from the patient’s kidney to the outside of the body to allow the body to drain any excess pieces of the kidney stone, blood, and urine.
The tube is removed 1 week later by the urologist and is covered by the patient’s clothing after they have left the hospital.
This procedure is good for: a large quantity of larger, more dense, stones that cannot pass through the ureter.
The most painful aspect of surgery:
These procedures are painful and are accompanied by burning sensations while urinating, blood in the urine, and in the case of percutaneous nephrolithotomy, you are cut open and have a tube hanging from your side for a week post-surgery that gets caught on your clothes, disturbed while you move around while you sleep, and more.
Additionally, you have a painful hole in your side that you need to clean with isopropyl alcohol until it closes and heals after the tube is removed.
However, this isn’t the most painful aspect. All of these procedures require a stent to be placed inside your ureter for a month after your procedure.
Stent pain is the most uncomfortable and agonizing aspect of these procedures because it lasts for a month, or longer, until the stent is removed.
A stent is a thin tube with one end placed inside your ureter with one end being lodged into the affected kidney and the other into your bladder. The stent is used to ensure your ureter doesn’t swell shut after the procedures, allowing urine to drain normally until the healing period has ended.
Stent pain symptoms:
- Burning sensation during urination. (constant)
- Sharp discomfort in the abdomen while sitting, laying, and standing.
- Sharp discomfort in the abdomen while walking, running, or activity.
- Burning sensation in urethra while walking or moving.
- Increased urgency of urination.
- Inability to control urination.
- Constant feeling of needing to urinate.
- Constant feeling of needing to move your bowels.
- Blood in urine.
These symptoms are constant and last until the stent is removed.
How big are kidney stones?
Kidney stones can be smaller than a grain of sand or as large as a cluster of walnuts.
Why do kidney stones get so large?
Kidney stones grow larger over time in the kidneys as more and more minerals collect.
This can be from a sedentary lifestyle, diet, a slight deformation in the kidney that causes urine to pool and sit stagnant without draining properly, an inability, temporary or permanent, of the body to break down certain minerals, the changes to the body during pregnancy, and more.
Do I have to get surgery for my kidney stone?
No, there are natural ways, or home remedies, to getting rid of your kidney stone, or stones.
Using simple items you can easily get from your local grocery store can eliminate your kidney stones.
Can kidney stones be dissolved in the kidney?
Yes, kidney stones can be dissolved.
Dr. Scott Saunders M.D. explains how dissolving kidney stones yourself, without surgery is possible.
Remedying your kidney stones at home and preventing surgery should be step number 1 in treating your kidney stones.Get Relief Now