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Kidney Stones Signs and Symptoms

Reviewed on 4/15/2020

How Painful Are Kidney Stones?

Picture of a woman holding her back in pain.
Kidney stones patients say the pain is the worst pain they have ever experienced, even worse than the pain of childbirth.
  • Kidney stones typically produce intense pain, although in certain cases so-called "silent stones" can form that do not produce symptoms at all.
  • Most kidney stones, however, cause colicky pain (pain that increases and then wanes in severity).
  • The pain from kidney stones occurs in the
    • low back or side,
    • abdomen,
    • groin, or
    • a combination of these areas.
  • Many people who have had kidney stones say the pain is the worst pain they have ever experienced, even worse than the pain of childbirth.
  • Changing the body position does not relieve the pain.
  • Narcotic pain relief medications may be necessary to control the severe pain while the kidney stone is passing through the urinary tract.

What Are Other Signs and Symptoms of Kidney Stones?

In addition to the pain, other signs and symptoms are typical for kidney stones.

  • Hematuria (blood in the urine) is a typical finding in people with kidney stones.
  • If the kidney stones are associated with a urinary tract infection, fever and chills can be present.
  • Difficulty with urination or urinary urgency can also be symptoms of kidney stones.
  • Although kidney stones occur more commonly in men than in women, these symptoms can be seen in anyone who is affected, including pregnant women and children.
  • Even though the symptoms are usually characteristic of the condition, imaging tests are usually done to confirm the diagnosis.

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Reviewed on 4/15/2020
Kidney Stones in Adults. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases. 2020.

Nephrolithiasis. Medscape. Updated: Jan 13, 2020.