Kidney stones are more common that we could ever imagine, and most people have at least microscopic calcifications that would eventually turn into kidney stones if they are careless and do not change their lifestyle and habits. Kidney stones are not diagnosed unless they move through the urinary tract, causing pain and other disturbing symptoms that often lead patients into the emergency room. However, there are screening methods to detect sedimentation of calcified material or microcalcifications through ultrasound and other methods. Through prevention and careful screening, it is possible to count yourself among those individuals who have never sustained kidney stone-related pain.
The reasons why kidney stones are formed vary from one person to another, but they are basically made of sedimented material that joins and becomes a compact stone over time. There are calcium and urate kidney stones, and each one of them should be treated differently according to their composition.
If you want to detect and treat kidney stones promptly, listen to your doctor and run non-invasive screening tests with a careful follow-up plan. You might also want to take a look at the most important signs and symptoms associated with kidney stones, which we will explain below:
1. Flank pain
Kidney stones are not painful if they are static in the kidney. That’s why they are often asymptomatic until something happens and they start moving through the urinary tract. Under those circumstances, pain is the most common symptom these patients display, and it might be severe enough to obstacle daily activities and even make it difficult for patients to stand up straight or walk in a straight line without help. This type of pain is not always found in the same spot, but it is often located in the flanks or the lower back. It may feel similar to muscular pain, and sometimes there is a muscle contraction in the area as well, but it is no more than a referred pain coming from the organ and the urinary tract and interpreted by the brain as if the affected structure was the back muscle instead.
The triggers of flank and lower back pain are basically an injury to the upper urinary tract and inflammation associated with it. The nerve terminals of the skin and muscles in the lower back and flanks go through the same way as those coming from the ureters, and any pain impulse deep from within these structures will be perceived in the lower back or flanks. This pain often radiates to other areas, as we will cover in the next section.