Is your abdominal pain due to a kidney stone?

There are many causes of abdominal pain, and kidney stones are one of them. Passing a stone is often described as one of the most painful experiences a person can have. It is estimated that one in 10 people will have a kidney stone in their lifetime — and they often recur. While painful, kidney stones usually do not cause any permanent damage if they are discovered early and treated properly.

Kidney stones are solid deposits that form inside your kidneys. These can then move through the urinary tract and down the ureter, the thin tube that connects the kidney to the bladder. At this point, you might feel a severe, sharp pain on your side and back, below the level of the ribs.

As the stone moves further down towards the bladder the pain can spread toward your lower abdomen and groin. The pain can come in waves, moving to a different area and can fluctuate in intensity as the stone continues to move. The stone then moves into the bladder which can bring about some relief from the pain, then through the urethra before leaving the body.


Calcium oxalate stones are the most common and are formed when calcium combines with oxalate.


Other signs and symptoms include:
• Pain or burning while urinating
• A persistent need to urinate
• Urinating more often than usual, in small amounts
• Nausea and vomiting
• Fever and chills due to a urinary tract infection
• Urine that appears pink, red or brown in color
• Cloudy or foul-smelling urine

Kidney stones can be caused by dehydration, obesity, weight loss surgery and eating too much salt or too much sugar. Too much fructose (found in fruits and high fructose corn syrup that is found in sugary drinks) also increases the risk of developing kidney stones.

Calcium oxalate stones are the most common and are formed when calcium combines with oxalate, which is produced by the liver and is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, grains, beans and even chocolate and tea.

To prevent calcium oxalate stones, you still need to eat a moderate amount of calcium so that it can bind with oxalate in the stomach and intestines and passed in the stool instead of being absorbed. Also cut back on salt (sodium) in your diet as this increases the concentration of calcium in the urine.

Certain medications and supplements, such as vitamin C when used excessively, can cause high amounts of oxalate in the urine and increase your risk for developing kidney stones. Just stick to 500mg of vitamin C a day.

Another common type of kidney stones are uric acid stones. High purine intake from red meat, organ meats and shellfish can lead to a higher production of uric acid and produces a larger acid load for the kidneys to excrete. Eat less animal-based protein and more fruits and vegetables to help decrease urine acidity. Limit alcohol and avoid crash diets because these can also increase uric acid levels.

To diagnose a kidney stone your doctor may ask for an ultrasound or CT scan of your kidneys. Blood and urine tests will be done to check on the health of your kidneys and to rule out infection. Urine tests and analysis of a stone that has passed can also help to find the cause of the stone.

Treatment involves hydration with water, pain medication and medicines to help make your urine less acidic. If the stone is too large, or if it blocks the flow of urine, it can be removed with shock-wave lithotripsy which is a noninvasive procedure that uses high-energy sound waves to blast the stones into fragments that can pass more easily in the urine. Ureteroscopy uses an endoscope which is inserted through the ureter to retrieve or break up the stone. Rarely, surgery is done for very large or complicated stones.

There is a saying, “This too shall pass.” But if you’ve ever passed a kidney stone you don’t want to go through it again. If you have kidney stones, or have had kidney stones, take your doctors’ advice on medication and dietary restrictions because stones increase your risk for chronic kidney disease, and they do come back.