Kidney stones can cause tremendous pain when they’re passed, and if they get lodged or cause infection, you may need minimally invasive surgery. Equally important is the prevention of recurrent stone disease with emphasis on nutrition. If you suspect problems with kidney stones, trust expert urologists Armen Dikranian, MD, and Ramin Khalili, MD, at Huntington Urology Specialists in Pasadena, California. Call the office or book an appointment online to find out more about the treatments available for kidney stones.

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What are kidney stones?

When the salt and minerals inside your kidneys come together, they form hard deposits, also known as kidney stones. Stones can vary in size and can be extremely painful as they exit the kidney, go through the ureter, and into your bladder, but they cause no permanent damage.

If a kidney stone causes intolerable pain, gets stuck or is associated with a urinary infection, it may need minimally invasive surgical intervention beyond pain medications.

What are the symptoms of a kidney stone?

A kidney stone doesn’t usually cause symptoms until it starts to pass. At this point, you might experience:

  • Pain in your lower abdomen or groin or pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pinkish or brownish urine, or urine that’s cloudy or foul-smelling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Persistent need to urinate

If you have pain with fever and chills or pain that’s so severe that you can’t get comfortable, seek medical treatment immediately.

What causes kidney stones?

Many factors increase your risk of developing kidney stones. When your urine contains crystal-forming substances, including calcium and uric acid, it can cause your urine to become more diluted and the stones to form. If you’re missing certain substances that prevent the crystals from sticking together, it creates the conditions that encourage stones to form.

Other risk factors for kidney stones include:

  • Genetic or personal history
  • Dehydration
  • Diets high in protein, sodium, and sugar
  • Obesity
  • Digestive disease and surgery — such as inflammatory bowel disease or gastric bypass

Certain medical conditions, including renal tubular acidosis and hyperparathyroidism as well as chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs), can also increase your risk of developing kidney stones.

How are kidney stones treated?

Small kidney stones usually pass with some discomfort, but without complications. Drink lots of water; as much as 2-3 quarts can help flush the stone easily. Your provider might also prescribe pain relievers and medication to help pass the stone in a more tolerable fashion.

If you have larger stones or ones that are cause complications, such as ongoing UTIs or bleeding, your provider may recommend using sound waves to break up the stones with a procedure known as extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy.

In rare cases, you may need to consider endoscopic surgery to remove extremely large kidney stones.

To learn more about treatments for kidney stones, call Huntington Urology Specialists, or book an appointment online today.