Kidney Stone Causes and Treatments
Kidney stones are small stone-like formations that can cause pain and discomfort in the groin, abdomen, back, and side. Small kidney stones are often able to pass through the urinary tract and exit the body on their own. However, larger kidney stones usually require medical treatment. At Urology Specialists of Milford, Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg is your urologist for the treatment of kidney stones in Milford, MA.
Kidney Stones and Their Causes
Kidney stones develop when the salts and minerals present in urine bond together and form a solid stone-like formation. Kidney stones can vary size or shape. Small kidney stones might not cause any discomfort, while larger kidney stones that block urine flow can cause extensive pain. Not everyone who develops kidney stones will experience pain or other symptoms. However, for those who do, symptoms can include:
- Severe pain in the side, back, abdomen or groin
- Need to urinate frequently
- Painful urination
- Blood in the urine
- Foul-smelling urine
- Nausea or vomiting
There are several possible causes of kidney stones, as well as factors that tend to increase a person’s risk of developing them. Some common causes of and risk factors for kidney stones include:
- Being dehydrated, which can cause minerals and salts in the urine to stick together due to lack of fluids
- A diet high in salt, protein, and oxalates (e.g., chocolate and nuts) or an excess of vitamin D
- Gastric conditions, such as Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Metabolic diseases, such as hyperparathyroidism or gout
- A family history of kidney stones
Treating Kidney stones
A few options are available for treating kidney stones that are too large to pass on their own. In the past, surgery was performed to remove large kidney stones. However, the majority of patients with kidney stones today can be treated non-surgically through a method called lithotripsy. There are two main types of lithotripsy used for kidney stone treatment:
- Extracorporeal Shock Wave Lithotripsy (ESWL) - Shock waves target kidney stones and break them into small fragments that can readily pass out of the body through the urine within a few weeks of the ESWL procedure.
- Ureteroscopy and Laser Lithotripsy - A ureteroscope is inserted into the body to provide video imaging of any kidney stones in the bladder or ureter. A laser is then used to break up the kidney stones into smaller pieces. Alternatively, the kidney stones can sometimes be directly pulled out of the body during the procedure.
If you have kidney stones, non-surgical treatment options are available. To discuss your treatment options, schedule an appointment with urologist Dr. Steinberg by calling Urology Specialists of Milford at (508) 473-6333.