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Kidney Stones Are Excruciatingly Painful, But Where the Pain Comes from Is a Surprise

By Andrew Alpin, 16 October

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Every year, half a million people go to emergency rooms because they have kidney stones, and about one in ten people will have one at some point in their lives. You have two kidneys, and their main job is to clean the waste and toxins out of your blood. Usually, the kidneys get rid of these wastes by flushing them out as urine. Every 24 hours, your kidneys clean 189 liters (50 gallons) of blood and get rid of 64 ounces (1.9 liters) of waste.

11 How are kidney stones formed?

But sometimes, there are too many waste products in the blood that the kidneys can’t get rid of. These leftover waste products can form tiny crystals that, over time, group together to make “stones” that get bigger and bigger. Most kidney stones are made of calcium oxalate, but there are also stones made of uric acid, struvite, and cystine.

How are kidney stones formed

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10 The real reason why kidney stones start paining

Things get really bad when one of these stones moves out of the kidney and into the ureter, a narrow tube that transfers urine from the kidney to the bladder. When that happens, it can feel like you’ve been stabbed in the back. Kidney stones hurt when they move out of the kidney and block the ureter. This makes urine build up behind them, which stretches the ureter and other tissues like a balloon.

The real reason why kidney stones start paining

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9 Why do kidney stones hurt so much?

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Pain is hard to measure, but people often say that passing a kidney stone hurts as much as giving birth or worse. But if you thought that a sharp clump of crystals slowly moving through your urinary tract caused the excruciating pain of kidney stones, you’d be wrong. Kidney stones can cause many symptoms, from fever and vomiting to sharp pain in the stomach and back.

Dr. Timothy Averch, a kidney stone specialist at Prisma Health Urology in Columbia, South Carolina, says that most people think the pain comes from the stone itself. “Patients will frequently say, ‘It must have a lot of rough edges or spikes because this one hurts a lot.’ Or it’s really large, and that’s what hurts so badly. That actually has nothing to do with the pain.”

Why do kidney stones hurt so much

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