The Kidney Stone Center at Urology Specialists of Milford offers comprehensive management of kidney stone disease, including individualized metabolic evaluation of the causes of kidney stones, dietary guidance, surgery, and medication, if indicated.
What are Kidney Stones?
Kidney stones are small, solid pieces of material that form inside your kidneys when salts and other mineral substances in your urine bond together. Nephrolithiasis is the term for developing a kidney stone. Stones are common and often vary in shape and size, with some growing to be quite large. A small stone may pass out of the kidney and through the urinary tract without causing any discomfort, while a larger stone may remain in the kidney or travel down the urinary tract and become stuck in the ureter (a tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder). When they’re small, stones may pass on their own without causing pain. Large stones may block urine flow, which can cause a number of painful symptoms that can be severe. However, the size of the stone doesn’t always correspond to the severity of the pain. The pain a kidney stone causes can vary as the stone moves around in your kidney and down the ureter.
What causes Kidney Stones?
While kidney stones are very common, there are certain risk factors that cause people to be more prone to developing stones than others. One-half of all patients who have one kidney stone episode, will have another one sometime in their lifetime.
Risk factors for Kidney Stones include:
- A family history of stone disease, especially in first-degree relatives
- Dehydration – lack of fluids can cause salts and other minerals in the urine to stick together to cause kidney stones
- Certain diets – diets high in protein, salt, oxalates (such as spinach, chocolate, nuts) and excess vitamin D can increase your risk of developing kidney stones
- Certain medical conditions – gastric conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, and chronic diarrhea affect the way your body absorbs water and calcium, which increases levels of stone-forming substances in your urine
- Metabolic diseases (such as hyperparathyroidism or gout)
- Obesity has been linked to higher incidences of stone formation
Learn more about the causes and treatments of kidney stones.
What are the symptoms of Kidney Stones?
Kidney Stones don’t always cause symptoms. However, a kidney stone that blocks the flow of urine can cause terrible pain. When a kidney stone has passed into the urinary tract, symptoms may include:
- Severe pain, usually located in the side or the back; pain may spread to the abdomen and the groin area as well
- Urinary symptoms such as painful urination, urinary urge, and frequent need to urinate
- Blood in the urine and/or foul-smelling urine
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Fever if the stone has caused an infection
If painful symptoms persist, it’s important to contact your urologist for diagnosis and immediate treatment. To make an appointment with Dr. Steinberg in his Milford office, please call 508-473-6333.
What cases Kidney Stone pain?
Not everyone who develops kidney stones will experience pain or discomfort. Some kidney stones do not necessarily cause pain and are often able to pass out of the body through the urine. Certain kidney stones, on the other hand, can cause extensive pain or discomfort as they move around in the kidneys and pass down into the ureter, which is a tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder. One of the reasons large kidney stones can cause so much pain is that they often get stuck in the ureter and block the flow of urine. As the kidney stones move around the kidneys or attempt to pass through the ureter, they can cause significant pain in the side or back. The pain can also radiate through the abdomen and down to the groin. Additionally, kidney stones can even make it painful to urinate.
How are Kidney Stones diagnosed?
An ultrasound of your kidneys may be performed in Dr. Steinberg’s office to look for kidney stones and to look for signs of blockage of your kidneys. If needed, Dr. Steinberg may also order an x-ray of your abdomen (KUB) or a CT scan to further diagnose the size, location and number of stones in order to plan your treatment. Routine ultrasounds are recommended for patients who have had kidney stones.
Can Kidney Stones be pevented?
Dr. Steinberg may order routine blood tests and 24-hour urine collections to help manage and prevent further kidney stones. We routinely utilize the convenient Litholink At-Home urine collection kit, which will be delivered to your home and picked up after completion of the urine collection. Dr. Steinberg will review the results of the tests with you and provide detailed recommendations for any dietary changes, medications or supplements.
Learn more about how LithoLink may help you manage and prevent further kidney stones here .