Lower Back Pain? Could be Kidney Stones


They say beauty is pain: the crystals of a kidney stone Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk

In the last month, we’ve had more than one client complaining of problems with kidney stones. Neither of them has had kidney issues in the past, but since their auto accidents they’d been plagued by chronic low back or kidney pain. This prompted us to do a little research, especially since  stones “run in the family”, and if there is evidence that trauma can either cause or dislodge these stones, we figured it would be a good thing to note  so that we could pass the information on to our clients. Here’s what we found out:

Kidney Stones and Trauma

Though you might not have had an issue with stones in the past, it’s not unusual to have an issue after some form of physical trauma such as a car accident, fall, etc.. The shock to your system from these events can dislodge a stone you may not have even known you had.

Kidney Stones and Genetics

Stone formation does appear to run in families, but just because your relatives have issues does not guarantee you will, though your chances for them increase in likelihood. Being well-informed, knowing what kidney stones are, how they form and what to watch for can be the best way to decrease your chances of complications from kidney stones.

Also, having one stone doesn’t mean you’ll continue to have problems, but it is a good idea to further investigate the type of stone your body has been forming, in the event that you find you do have more problems.

Symptoms of Kidney Stones

If you have some of the symptoms listed below and suspect that you may have a kidney stone, be sure to schedule with your physician as soon as possible. Early diagnosis could determine kidney stone disease, urinary tract infections, and other urinary problems and provide immediate treatment reducing your risk of further complications.

Kidney stones, when small enough, may pass undetected, not causing any symptoms. The larger the stone and the more it begins trying to move around in your kidney or as it passes into your ureter (the tube connecting the kidney and bladder) this may be when signs and symptoms occur.

Symptoms provided courtesy of the Mayo Clinic:
  • Severe pain in the side and back, below the ribs
  • Pain that spreads to the lower abdomen and groin
  • Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  • Pain on urination
  • Pink, red or brown urine
  • Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Persistent urge to urinate
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Fever and chills if an infection is present

Kidney stones courtesy of yourkidneystone.com

4 Types of Kidney Stones

There are 4 different types of kidney stones and they are all caused by different factors. About 10% of the population has kidney stones, and most of these people are males (4 times more likely to get them) between the ages of 20 and 40.

It’s important to know what kind of stone you’re passing as this will aid in its treatment and in some cases its future prevention. Because the stones are caused by different imbalances within the body, medicine for one type will have no effect on the others, and dietary changes can be useless if the stone you form is not diet related.

  • Calcium oxalate stones (one of the most common): forms when the kidney doesn’t flush out the extra calcium with the urine. Calcium deposits in the kidneys and joins with other waste products to form a stone.
  • Struvite stones: form after an infection of the urinary system. These are made of magnesium and ammonia.
  • Uric acid stones: formed when the urine contains too much uric acid, you can help this condition by reducing your consumption of meat and increasing the amount of water you consume.
  • Cystine stones: made up of cystine which is one of the building blocks that make muscles, nerves and other parts of the body. It can build-up in the urine and form a stone. This condition is rare, and runs in families.

Your doctor can do some tests on your urine to determine the type of stone you are forming. You might be asked to collect your urine for a 24 hour period to help with this. If you pass a stone, it’s a good idea to collect it and have it tested to determine the proper effective treatment or prevention of future stones.

Kidney Stone Prevention

MOST kidney stones pass on their own, although they do cause quite a bit of pain, the damage is minimal. But you can also do many things to prevent the formation of new stones, especially if you’re armed with the information about which kind of stone you’ve had in the past. Here are a few things you can do to help yourself.

Drink lots of water: At least 12, eight ounce glasses a day. This helps keep you hydrated, reducing the uric acid build-up and preventing particles from depositing in your kidneys and forming a stone. You can drink other liquids as well but just be sure to avoid caffeine and sugar since these substances can cause your body to lose water too quickly. If you tend to have very dark urine, you are not drinking enough. Urine should be clear or  light yellow, not a deep dark yellow or orange color.

Exercise: Breaking a sweat daily helps reduce the amount of waste that has to pass through the kidneys. Any sort of activity that causes you to sweat daily will aid in your body’s elimination of toxins.

Lemons for calcium oxalate stones: Some people have reported relief in the reduction in size of their stones, enabling them to pass easier with the lemon remedy below:

  • Juice 20 to 25 lemons to get 20 oz of juice.
  • Take 8 oz of straight juice
  • One hour later take 1 oz of juice and mix with 8 oz of water and drink
  • Repeat every hour until all 20 oz are gone.

Organic apple cider vinegar: is another home remedy that some have reported success with helping to dissolve their kidney stones.

  • Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of ACV in an 8 oz glass of water, repeat throughout the day until discomfort disappears, it can be used during an acute attack also, but if it doesn’t subside in a few hours see your doctor. If it is too acid for you, add a spoon of organic honey to cut it back.
  • Once the stone has passed drink a daily glass to help prevent the formation of future stones.

WARNING: Remember that the best course of action, should you suspect a kidney stone is to contact your doctor. If you see any blood in your urine (will appear pink) or you are having SEVERE back and side pain, go see a doctor immediately to avoid permanent damage.

Medical Treatments for Kidney Stones

In the past, the only treatment for a stone that you were not able to pass, was surgery. Fortunately, we have more treatments available to us today. Your doctor can choose to use shock waves to break up a stone and allow the smaller pieces to pass unhindered, if s/he determines that it is an effective way to do it. If that doesn’t work, tunnel surgery or a ureteroscope can be used to get to the stone and remove it. Your doctor will need to determine what will work best for you.

Be sure to take the medicine you’re given until the situation has resolved, this will decrease your chances of permanent damage to your kidneys.

Seek immediate medical attention if you experience:

  • Pain so severe that you can’t sit still or find a comfortable position
  • Pain accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Pain accompanied by fever and chills
  • Blood in your urine
  • Difficulty passing urine

If you have kidney stones, massage can also be an effective form of pain management. Make sure to take care of your kidneys, they’re essential to your health.

 

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