Everything You Need To Know About Kidney Stones

May 19, 2020

Kidney stones are a relatively common medical condition that sends over 500,000 Americans to the emergency room each year. Luckily, most cases are treatable at home and exit the body with time. Nurse Practitioner, Jeremiah Hays, and Physician Assistant, Hank Rainbolt are here to answer any question you might be searching the internet for in regards to kidney stones. 

How Does a Patient Know They Have a Kidney Stone? 

Rainbolt: So the hallmark symptom that we normally talk about in kidney stones is that unilateral flank pain, or in other words that one-sided low back pain that can be found right under your ribs. It is usually pretty strong and severe. You may also have some nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, and maybe some other urinary symptoms, but those aren’t always the cause. If it is a kidney stone, more than likely you’ll feel it, and if that is the case then we can have you seen here. 

What is a Kidney Stone? 

Hays: [A kidney stone] is a buildup of minerals and salts that accumulates in the kidney(s) overtime from filtering your blood, making urine, and once you have a kidney stone — one of two things can happen. It can move and you pass it, and you don’t even realize it. The other scenario would be what we would help you with, which is that [the stone] continues to grow and moves to where it obstructs the flow of urine, which results in swelling of the kidney and that causes that unilateral flank pain. 

What Should Someone Do If They Think They Have a Kidney Stone? 

Rainbolt: So if the patient feels the symptoms that we talked about earlier, the majority of stone episodes can be seen here in the clinic. So you can call in and get a same-day appointment with us here at the Urology Associates. We can address your pain immediately, we can schedule imaging because that’s really the only way to know if you do have stones, which is to see it on an image. If you do have severe pain, 8 out of 10, 9 out of 10, the worst pain of your life, or if your nausea and vomiting isn’t going away, then we’d ask that you go to the ER, other than that, most cases can be seen here. 

What Are The Treatment Options for Patients? 

Hays: There are two main ones that depending on the size of the stone, the density of the stone, and the location of the stone, that we usually go with. The first [option] we normally go with, we would take a little telescope to go up through your bladder into the ureter that connects your kidney to your bladder and either grab the stone or zap it with a laser and then take the little pieces out. The second most common treatment is shock wave therapy, where we would blast the stone with shock waves until it breaks up and kind of turns it into gravel, and then over the course of a few weeks, you just pass little pieces of gravel. Both these procedures you’re completely asleep for, you don’t feel any of it, and then we wake you up and you’re good to go. 

How Do Patients Prevent Kidney Stones? 

Rainbolt: That’s the golden question. One in 10 Americans will experience a kidney stone once in their lifetime, and if you’re one of those lucky one in ten, then you’re already at a greater likelihood of developing another stone. So if that’s the case, once you’re healthy, once you’ve passed the stone or we’ve removed it, we’d like to see you again in the clinic so we can run a simple urine test and a simple blood draw and we can measure those levels and see what exactly is causing you to develop stones in your system. Then we develop and tailor a customized treatment plan for you to prevent any future stones. 

Need to See a Urologist? 

If you are experiencing kidney pain, or suspect you might be suffering from kidney stones, contact our office to be seen by a specialist.