What Does Kidney Stone Pain Feel Like?
Kidney stones are notoriously painful. But what does kidney stone pain feel like, exactly? Symptoms of a kidney stone can vary on a case by case basis—call your primary care doctor or urologist to discuss your discomfort. In general, though, many patients describe kidney stone pain as a dull ache that progresses to sharp, stabbing pain around the back or side beneath the rib cage. This pain may come in waves, fluctuate in severity or travel to the groin area and lower abdomen. In men, kidney stone pain can also affect the testicles and penis.
In addition to intense pain around the affected kidney, symptoms of kidney stones may include:
- Pain or burning sensations while urinating
- A frequent need to urinate, even when the bladder is empty
- Urine that is an usual color
- Nausea and vomiting
When Should I See a Doctor?
Never wait to see a doctor if you are experiencing symptoms that concern you. It is particularly important to promptly seek medical care if you:
- Have blood in your urine
- Struggle to pass urine
- Have pain that is severe or accompanied by nausea, vomiting, fever or chills
What Are the Risk Factors for Kidney Stones?
Anyone can develop a kidney stone. However, there are certain factors that can increase your risk of experiencing one. These include:
- A family history or personal history of kidney stones
- A diet heavy in protein, sugar and/or sodium (salt)
- Frequent dehydration
- Changes in the digestive track from gastric bypass surgery or GI conditions like inflammatory bowel disease
- Certain medical conditions, including frequent urinary tract infections, renal tubular acidosis and hyperparathyroidism
- An excess of certain supplements, including vitamin C, laxatives and calcium-based antacids
How Are Kidney Stones Treated?
If you are diagnosed with a kidney stone, your treatment plan will vary according to the size of the stone, the stone’s makeup and what symptoms you are experiencing.
A small kidney stone that causes mild to moderate discomfort may be treated with the following approach:
- Drink plenty of water (up to two or three quarts) to help pass the stone by moving it through the urinary tract.
- Use pain-reliving medication such as Advil and Aleve to relieve discomfort.
- Take prescription alpha blocker medication to relax ureter muscles and help the kidney stone pass more comfortably.
Urology at Tufts Medical Center Community Care
Tufts Medical Center Community Care is pleased to offer coordinated, community-based treatment to patients with kidney stones and other kidney disorders. Our team includes seasoned urologists who work hand-in-hand with primary care physicians and other specialists as necessary to ensure world-class care and support. And, with multiple easily accessible locations throughout north suburban Boston and prompt appointment availability, we make it simple to find relief from kidney stone pain. Contact Tufts Medical Center Community Care today to learn more.