Kidney stones, also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form within the kidneys. They can be caused in part by diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements or medications. Kidney stones have the ability to affect any part of your urinary tract - from your kidneys to your bladder. Most often, stones form when urine becomes concentrated, allowing minerals to crystalize and stick together, forming a stone.
Passing a kidney stone can cause significant pain, but the stones don’t typically cause permanent damage if they are caught early enough. Depending on your unique situation, you may need nothing more than over-the-counter pain medication and to drink lots of water to pass a kidney stone. In other instances - for example, if the stones become lodged in the urinary tract, are connected to a urinary infection, or cause complications - surgery may be required.
Kidney stones tend not to create symptoms until they move around within your kidney or when they pass into your ureters, the tubes that connect your kidneys to your bladder. If the stone becomes lodged in the ureters, it may block the flow of urine and cause the kidney to swell and the ureter to spasm, which can cause intense pain. At this point, you may experience these signs and symptoms:
Other symptoms of kidney stones may include:
The pain experienced by a kidney stone can vary and change. Pain can shift to a different location or change intensity as the stone moves through the urinary tract.
Kidney stones usually have no singular cause, but several factors could increase the likelihood of their development.
Kidney stones form when your urine contains more crystal-forming substances - like calcium, oxalate, and uric acid - than the fluid in your urine can dilute. Subsequently, your urine may lack the substances needed to prevent crystals from sticking together, creating an ideal environment for the formation of kidney stones.
The team of urologists at Urology Associates of Mobile offer individualized treatment plans for kidney stones to address your specific needs.
If the stones are small and are not causing disruptive symptoms, your doctor may recommend increased water intake, using over-the-counter pain relievers, or taking medicine to relax the muscles in your ureters to allow the stone to pass easily.
If the stones are larger and the symptoms more severe, your doctor may suggest extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). ESWL uses sound waves to break up your kidney stones into smaller, more easily passable pieces that can exit the body with less discomfort.
In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend percutaneous nephrolithotomy, a minimally invasive surgery to remove the stone from your kidney or to break it into smaller pieces.
There are several ways to decrease the likelihood of kidney stone development, and most are as simple as minor lifestyle changes. Some prevention techniques may include:
Whether the stones are minor or severe, the team at Urology Associates of Mobile can create a customized treatment plan for you.
Call today to schedule your appointment, or request an appointment online for expert diagnosis and kidney stone treatment.
Kidney stones, also called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis, are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form within the kidneys. They can be caused in part by diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions, and certain supplements or medications. Kidney stones have the ability to affect any part of your urinary tract –…