Kidney Stones - Types, Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

July 21, 2023

What are Kidney Stones

Kidney stones form when minerals and acid salts stick together inside the urinary system and turn into hard units. It is caused due to various factors like insufficient intake of water, imbalance of calcium, etc. It can affect your entire urinary system.

The most common stone-forming chemicals are calcium, oxalate, urate, cystine, xanthine, and phosphate. When these substances are present in the urine in high amounts, it leads to crystal formation which further grows into different sizes of stones in the kidney. The internal acidic environment in the kidney, excess protein intake, and dietary factors also play a part in stone formation.

Kidney stones are mainly of four different kinds. In some cases, surgery is required, in some cases, doctors destroy or eliminate the stone through safe non-invasive procedures.

Types of Kidney stones

These are the four most common types of Kidney Stone.

  1. Calcium Oxalate Stone - It forms when calcium combines with oxalate in the urine. The main cause behind its creation is excessive consumption of calcium and decreased fluid intake.
  2. Uric Acid Stone - A natural chemical compound named purines is present in foods like meat and shellfish. When a person ingests a high amount of purines, it leads to the production of monosodium urate, which further causes the formation of kidney stones. A person is prone to this kind of kidney stone if there is a family history of this disorder.
  3. Struvite Stone - It occurs due to infections in the upper urinary tract, but its formation is uncommon. At the same time, it is difficult to diagnose at an early stage as its symptoms are not apparent initially.
  4. Cystine Stone - A hereditary disorder called Cystinuria can be a reason behind the formation of this kidney stone. It leads to abnormal excretion of certain proteins called amino acids.

Causes of Kidney Stones

There are multiple causes that lead to formation of kidney stones. It occurs when crystal-forming substances like calcium, oxalate and uric acid are found excessively in one’s urine while the substance that could prevent the formation of the crystals are inadequate

The following are known predisposing factors that lead to formation of kidney stones:

  1. Insufficient intake of water
  2. Too much or too little exercises
  3. Obesity
  4. Weight loss surgery
  5. Excessive intake of proteins
  6. Urinary Infections
  7. family history of kidney stones

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

Kidney stones can be very small or quite large in size. The larger it is, the more apparent its symptoms will be.

Take a look at these common symptoms-

  1. Severe lower back pain, especially in the sides below the ribcage.
  2. Pain radiating from loin to groin
  3. Intense pain in the abdomen coming in intermittent frequencies similar to waves
  4. Pain, burning sensation while urinating
  5. Blood in the urine
  6. Cloudy, bad-smelling, and change in urine colour
  7. Nausea and vomiting associated with pain
  8. Increase the frequency of the urge to urinate
  9. Fever and chills

The pain caused by kidney stones can be variable depending on their site as the stones move in the urinary system. The severity increases if the stone gets lodged in the ureters as it can block the flow of urine and cause swelling in the kidney.

Diagnosis of Kidney Stones

The diagnosis of Kidney stones starts with an evaluation of previous medical reports, followed by a physical examination and imaging test.

To ascertain the exact size and shape of the stone, the doctor will perform the following tests

  1. USG scan of abdomen and pelvis, and if indicated,
  2. high-resolution CT scan of the kidneys and bladder
  3. X-ray KUB: kidney-ureter-bladder x-ray.

The reports of the above scans help the doctor to decide the treatment protocol as it gives clarity on how severe the patient’s condition is.


The treatment depends on the size, number, and site of the kidney stones.

When the size is small (typically <10mm), the first line of treatment is to try to eliminate the stones without surgery. Hydrotherapy is used in these cases. In case the stone is big, blocking the urine passage, causing infections and severe pain, etc, it is removed through surgery.

Some procedures like Shock-wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, and percutaneous nephrolithotomy/nephrolithotripsy.

Shock-wave lithotripsy is a safer option as it uses sound waves to break the stones into little grains in order to pass them through urine. Another way is ureteroscopy, where an endoscope is inserted through the ureter to bring the stones out or destroy them inside the body. In case of large complications, doctors prefer to eliminate the stone through percutaneous nephrolithotomy/nephrolithotripsy.


These are some basic measures that can help you to avoid kidney stone

  1. Drink enough water
  2. Decrease your calcium intake
  3. Keep your sodium intake in check
  4. Reduce your consumption of oxalate-rich food
  5. Eat less animal protein
  6. Avoid vitamin C supplements if not necessary

FAQ (People also search for)

  • What is the main cause of kidney stones?

A few of the most common causes behind Kidney Stones are insufficient water intake, not doing enough exercise, obesity, excessive salt and protein intake, and infections in family history.

  • What is the pain of a kidney stone-like?

A person having kidney stones experiences sharp and severe pain in the side and back of his below the ribs area. The intensity of pain fluctuates while the wave of the pain can relocate from one area to another in the body.

  • What are the 5 most common symptoms of kidney stones?

The five most common symptoms are severe wave-like pain in the abdomen and lower back, nausea and vomiting, fever and chills, burning sensation while urinating and blood in the urine.

  • How do you clear up kidney stones?

It depends on the size and severity of your kidney stones. Your doctor can suggest the right way to clear up your stones after going through your reports.

  • What dissolves kidney stones fast?

You must consult your doctor before trying to treat your kidney stones with such remedies. This is because many

  • What drinks cause kidney stones?

Sugar-contained soda, energy drinks, and excessive protein supplements and punch are known for having high kidney stone risk.

  • How does your body feel when you have kidney stones?

Your body would go through serious discomfort in terms of pain, nausea, and fever.

  • Where does kidney stone pain start?

The kidney stone pain often starts in the side and back of the abdomen and below the rib.

  • What foods cause kidney stones?

Some of the most common kidney stones-causing foods are beets, chocolate, spinach, rhubarb, tea, and most nuts.

  • What food should be avoided for kidney stones?

Spinach, nuts, wheat bran, and rhubarb should be avoided for kidney stones. Also, the combinational of milk product and spinach should be avoided at all cost as spinach interferes with calcium absorption predisposing to kidney stones.

  • What food is good for kidney stones?

Foods that do not worsen your kidney stones are milk, cheese, yogurt, oysters, tofu, lemons, and oranges.

  • What vegetables are good for kidney stones?

Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and kale are good for kidney stones.

  • Do you pee out kidney stones?

If your kidney stones are below 10mm, you can pee them out easily.

  • What is the best treatment for kidney stones?

The best treatments for kidney stones are shock-wave lithotripsy ureteroscopy and percutaneous nephrolithotomy/nephrolithotripsy.

  • What are the warning signs of kidney stones?

Tiredness, troubled sleeping, lack of concentration, foamy and dark coloured urine, and nausea.

  • What are the 4 types of kidney stones?

The four types of kidney stones are Calcium Oxalate Stone, Uric Acid stone, Struvite Stone, and Crystine Stone.

  • What is the fastest way to diagnose kidney stones?

The fastest way to diagnose kidney stones is through sonography of the abdomen and pelvis, CT Scan and KUB X-ray.