Kidney stone pain: what does it feel like?

Written by: Mr Aza Mohammed
Published: | Updated: 26/07/2019
Edited by: Laura Burgess

A kidney stone occurs when waste products in the blood occasionally become crystals that collect inside of your kidneys. These crystals may, in turn, form a hard stone-like lump. In cases of small kidney stones, you may not even notice if you have them, however, larger kidney stones can cause some rather unpleasant symptoms.

Consultant urologist Mr Aza Mohammed explains what to expect and whether kidney stones can have a fatal outcome if left untreated…

How does kidney pain feel?

Kidney stone pain is highly variable. If the stone is within the kidney itself, it might not be associated with pain and could be incidentally discovered on imaging. Occasionally it could be in the form of dull pain in the loin. If the stone moves down the ureter it can be associated with severe loin pain typically described as renal colic.

The pain comes in waves and is usually associated with nausea and vomiting. The pain is caused by obstruction to the ureter, which results in the failure of the urine to drain beyond the stone with a subsequent increase in the pressure within the kidney.

How can I flush out kidney stones?

Ureteric stones can pass down the ureter depending on the stone size. It is generally accepted that, with smaller stones, the chance of spontaneous passage is greater. So for stones between 5-7mm, the spontaneous passage is in the region of 76%. The spontaneous passage is also dependant on the stone location with those in the lower part of the ureter at the time of presentation. This means it has a better chance of passage compared to those in the upper part of the ureter.

How are large kidney stones removed?

Kidney stones are removed surgically with two different methods. The first one involves the insertion of a fine telescope through the ureter into the kidney and breaks the stone with a laser. The stone will either be turned into dust or small fragments that will subsequently be washed. The other approach is to make a small cut in the skin and insert a sheath into the kidney and to the stone. The second procedure is usually reserved for larger stones.

Can kidney stones kill you? What's the worst case scenario?

Untreated stones can cause complications that can have deleterious effects. Infection in cases of the obstructed ureter can result in septicaemia if not treated. Kidney stones can damage the kidney as a result of recurrent infections and damage of the kidney substance. It is therefore recommended that kidney stones are treated appropriately to prevent kidney damage.


Worried that you're experiencing kidney stone pain? Book an appointment with Mr Mohammed now for a consultation! 

By Mr Aza Mohammed

Mr Aza Mohammed is a leading consultant urological surgeon, with over 20 years’ experience in the field of urology and men’s health.  Mr Mohammed is specialised in the management of complex kidney stones and minimally invasive treatment of prostate symptoms including UroLift and TURP. He also has vast experience in the management of urological cancers, management of erectile dysfunction and penile curvature (Peyronie’s disease), management of female urinary incontinence, as well as management of general urological conditions.

Mr Mohammed has undergone extensive training in both the UK and abroad, having worked in major university hospitals in the East Midlands and the West of Scotland, before undertaking  Uro-oncology research at the University of Toronto, Canada. He is both UK and European Board of Urology certified and a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Since 2016, Mr Mohammed has been a consultant urological surgeon at Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Mohammed has published more than 30 articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented in both national and international meetings and conferences. He has been involved in a number of research projects throughout his career on various urological conditions, and is currently the principal investigator and supervisor of PhD research into the management of men with erectile dysfunction.

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