Do Kidney Stones Always Hurt

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The pain associated with kidney stones is usually more noticeable when the stones migrate to the narrow tubes called ureters (where the urine flows from the kidneys to the bladder). The stones may pass naturally without treatment, but sometimes a medical procedure is necessary to break the stones that cause obstruction. Symptoms can vary, but do kidney stones always hurt?

Kidney stone pain usually starts in the flank area of the back, particularly at the side of your lower back. It may radiate to the front of the body as the stone moves in the urinary tract. 

It could be painful a lot, one of the most severe pain-imaginable things. In fact, it accounts for more than one million visits per year to emergency rooms [1].

Besides pain, kidney stones may also cause some of the following symptoms [2]:

  1. Smelly (strong odor), cloudy urine. A change of urine odor may signal infection in the urinary tract. Kidney stones can cause obstruction, making infection more likely.
  2. Changes in urinary frequency. The stones may cause persistent urge to urinate, more urinary frequency (more often than usual), or passing a small amount of urination at a time (the stones may block or slow the flow of your urine).
  3. Nausea or /and vomiting. Problems affecting the kidneys may also affect the GI function since there are some nerve connections between the kidney and gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, nausea and vomiting could also be a consequence when the body responds to intense pain.
  4. Urine containing blood (hematuria) since the stones may also cause internal bleeding. In such case, the urine may change in color to become dark-brown, pink or red.
  5. Fever & chills. This can occur if infection forms in the urinary tract. Intense pain followed with fever needs medical attention!

The kidneys are responsible to get rid of waste and excess fluid from the body – turn all of these unnecessary things to become urine.

Kidney stones are likely to occur when there are too much of certain minerals and waste along with low liquid in the body (dehydration). In high concentration, they may crystalize (build up & stick together), creating pebble-like mass hard stones in the kidneys.

The stones vary in size. Sometimes the clump could be as large as several inches wide, large enough to cause serious obstruction in the urinary tract.

There are several minerals and wastes that cause the clumps. The most common ones are due to excess accumulation of the following things in the blood; calcium (about 80% of all kidney stones are this type), uric acid, struvite (magnesium ammonium phosphate), and sulfur-containing amino acid (cystine) [3].

So, do kidney stones always hurt? Again they vary in size. Some could be as large as a pebble, even (in a few cases) as large as a golf ball.

They usually start to develop from very small clumps, about the size of a grain of sand or smaller– in such case the clumps are probably asymptomatic (without symptoms). As a general rule, the smaller the clump the fewer symptoms you would have – and vice versa!

Pain linked to kidney stones may change as they travel through the urinary tract– let’s say for example increasing intensity or shifting to a different position in the urinary tract.

Each case may vary. But in general, (for summary) kidney stones could be hurt a little bit or a lot with the following situations: