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Ajay Kwatra M.D.

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Wednesday
Jun222011

Why do kidney stones cause pain?

Anyone who has suffered a kidney stone attack knows how severe and incapacitating the pain can be.  Most people describe a kidney stone attack as the worst pain that they have ever had.  How does a tiny stone cause so much pain?  A kidney stone forms in the kidney from minerals urine that stick together to from a stone.  The stone will stay in the kidney and get bigger over time until something causes it to move.  The stone then travels down a small tube that carries urine from the kidney to the bladder called the ureter.  The ureter is very narrow and when the stone travels down the ureter it usually gets stuck blocking the urine flow from that kidney.  This blockage of urine flow causes the kidney to swell and results in the excruciating pain that patient’s feel.   The pain will usually improve over the next few days even if the stone does not pass.  It is important to follow-up with a urologist to make sure that the stone has passed even if the pain has resolved.  In some cases patients can suffer permanent kidney damage from a stone that they thought had passed because there pain had improved.