FAST FACTS: Kidney Stones


Kidney stones can be extremely painful and may become large enough to block the ureter, the tube from the kidney to the bladder, and can stop the flow of urine. Typically, kidney stones cause a sudden onset of mid back pain not necessarily related to physical activity or can cause lower abdominal pain on the side of the stone. 

Kidney Stone Pain
  • Possible Causes of Kidney Stones
    • High levels of certain substances in the urine such as calcium, uric acid or amino acid cysteine
    • Infection or genetic disorders
    • Calcium, stones are the most common and most frequent in men over 40
    • Within the older population, dehydration is a common cause
  • What Medical Professional Assess
    • Pain in abdomen, side of back, groin or testicles
    • Associated symptoms such as: Blood tinged urine, fever, chills, nausea/vomiting
    • In severe cases patients may experience no urine output
    • Tests may include lab tests, abdominal CT scan, MRI, x-ray or ultrasound
  • Possible Interventions
    • Non-Drug Treatments
      • cooling measures for fever
      • positioning
      • warm compress for pain management
      • increased amounts of water (6-8 glasses a day) to help pass stones
    • Medications
      • Opioids- for severe pain associated with the passing of stones
      • Diuretics or sodium bicarbonate- to decrease stone formation or help flush stones
    • Surgery- if stone is too large to pass on own
  • What Caregivers can do to help their loved one with Kidney Stones
    • Write down and share information about your loved one’s pain with their provider
    • Use a Pain Diary to note important information useful to the provider
    • Encourage your loved one to try a non-drug treatment to decrease minor pain

Revised 3/2020

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