What is a kidney stone?

There are two Kidneys, which are present in the back. The kidneys filter the blood, and remove excess water and waste chemicals to produce urine. Several substances commonly found in urine have the ability to crystallize. These crystals can then bind together to form a kidney stone. Urine travels from each kidney down a tube called the ureter into the bladder, then out of the body when the bladder is full.

1 Kidney 2 Ureter 3 Bladder 4 Urethra

What are the symptoms of a kidney stone?

Most of the stones are asymptomatic when they are small or when they are not causing blockage of the urinary flow from Kidney and Ureter to the Bladder. The most common symptom from a kidney stone is the acute onset of severe flank pain due to the stone moving in the kidney or Ureter, which causes a blockage or obstruction of the flow of urine. Kidney stones, especially those in the left kidney, can also cause significant amounts of nausea and even vomiting. As the stone moves further down the Ureter toward the bladder, the pain often radiates in the groin and genital areas. In men, the pain may radiate to the scrotum. In women, the pain may radiate to the labia or even the vagina.

The pain associated with kidney stones often comes in waves. It has been said that kidney stone pain is the worst pain that a man can experience. Many women state that the pain is as bad or worse than labor pains. The amount of pain experienced does not correlate in any way with the size of the kidney stone. This pain usually results from a calculus that has impacted in the Ureter or Kidney-Ureter junction, and is therefore obstructing the urine flow from the kidney, resulting in back pressure and swelling of the affected kidney. Stones in the kidney may be associated with a similar pain, but less severe in nature than with stones in the ureter.

Kidney stones can rub along the lining of the kidney and ureter, which can lead to blood in the urine. In addition, the stone may be associated with urinary frequency and irritation when the stone is near the Ureter-Bladder junction.

If infection is present with or without obstruction, there may be fever in addition to the pain.

Bladder stones typically cause severe irritative bladder symptoms and pain radiating to the tip of the urethra or penis. The urine flow may suddenly cut off as the stone lodges at the bladder outlet. Pain associated with this inability to urinate is often referred to as “strangury”.

Are kidney stones common?

Kidney stones are a relatively common problem. Approximately 15% of people develop stones at some point during their lifetime. The problem is more common among men. The peak age for developing stones is between 30 and 50, and recurrence is common.

What does a kidney stone look like?

Kidney stones can come in many different colors, shapes, textures, and sizes. The color depends on the composition of the stone. Most of the Ureteric stones look like the stones one commonly see in the street.