Kidney stones are painful. They occur due to disruption in the normal balance between salt, minerals, water, and other materials that are found in the urine. The kidney stones that develop are in a calcified form due to the urine changes. It is noted that certain medical conditions, lack of drinking water, heredity, or overproduction of the parathyroid glands, although rare, can cause them.
Symptoms of a kidney stone are pain, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine and frequency. Diagnosis of a kidney stone is made by urine testing and imaging tests. Further testing to determine the type of stone is accomplished through analysis, history, blood work and additional testing of the urine.
Treatment of kidney stones is based on the size of the stone itself. If the stone is relatively small in size then it will likely pass from your body on its own. It is recommended that pain medication be taken, such as a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory.
If the pain cannot be tolerated with this then additional pain medication prescribed by your doctor can be provided. It is also advised that a person drink approximately 8-10 glasses of fluid each day. Contrary to belief, grapefruit juice is not recommended. This juice may cause you to have an increased risk for kidney stone development.
There is also a medication that can help your body in the passing of a stone. These medications are known as calcium channel blockers. Your physician may also prescribe alpha-blockers. If this treatment is not effective and your condition is very painful, obstruction of the urinary tract is noted or you have an infection then additional options for treatment are available. These additional treatments would include:
Ureteroscopy: A telescope, thin in diameter, is inserted up through the urinary tract and the stone located. Instruments are then used to break up or remove the stone. A stent, which is a small tube, may also be used to be put in place and left for drainage purposes. This procedure is commonly used for stones that have traveled out of the kidney and into the ureter.
Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, also known as ESWL: This method of treatment uses shock waves that are easily emitted through the body. These shock waves can break up the kidney stone. This particular method is a common practice in the treatment of kidney stones.
Percutaneous nephrolithotomy or nephrolithotripsy: A thin telescope is used and inserted into the kidney. This is done through a laceration in the back area. The stone is removed or broken up. If ESWL treatment is ineffective this method is used. This procedure is also done due to a larger than normal stone.
Surgery: Removal of a stone through a surgeon’s cut in the tummy or the side for easier removal of a stone. This method is rarely used, however.
National Kidney and Urologic Disease Information Clearinghouse: Kidney Stones
MayoClinic: Kidney Stones
National Kidney Foundation: Kidney Stone Treatment
UCLA Health System: Stone Treatment Center
UC San Diego: Kidney Stone Treatments