If kidney stones are small, they can pass through the urinary tract without causing significant discomfort. But they can get grow enough to get stuck and require medical interventions to be removed. They can also cause what many people call “the most awful pain of their life”: renal colic.
What is a renal colic and what is its origin?
Renal colic is a type of pain caused by a blockage in the urinary tract, which includes kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. These blockages are commonly caused by kidney stones. Ureteral spasms, blood clots, and dead tissue can also cause blockage.
It is estimated that 12% of men and 6% of women will develop urinary stones at some point in their lives. The number of people at risk of renal colic increases due to dietary changes and other behavioral factors.
What are the symptoms of renal colic?
We can cite :
- acute pain in the lower back, lower abdomen and groin;
- painful urination
- a change in the color of urine to pink, red or brown, which indicates the presence of blood;
- a need to urinate intensely and frequently;
- Low-abundance urine;
- fever and chills (in case of infection);
- nausea and vomiting.
Symptoms can come and go and their degree of severity may vary.
How are renal colic treated?
In cases where they are caused by kidney stones, the treatment may include:
Extracorporeal lithotripsy (ECL).
- As part of this procedure, we will use sound waves to break large stones into tiny pieces, that are small enough to pass through the urinary tract and leave the body.
- Ureteroscopy.In this case, the doctor will use a thin vision instrument called ureteroscope to remove the stones.
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy.This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. A surgeon makes a small incision in your back and removes the stone.
- Medication. Those used to relieve symptoms include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and antispasmodics. In extreme cases and if nothing else works to relieve pain, opioids may be prescribed.
Are there any ways to prevent renal colic?
Without guaranteeing that you’ill never develop kidney stones, these tips may help you reduce the risk:
- drink a lot of water, and simultaneously limit your consumption of tea and coffee;
- eat less salt;
- you could also limit animal sources of protein in your diet, such as red meat, fish and eggs;
- limit oxalate-rich foods such as spinach, rhubarb and nuts;
- Limit your activity to high temperatures, but if that’s impossible, make sure to stay hydrated.
In conclusion, renal colic caused by kidney stones are extremely painful, but they can fortunately be cured. There are also ways to reduce the risk of developing new kidney stones.