Kidney and ureteral stones are often associated with pain. However, symptoms can range from severe pain to no pain, depending on the characteristics of the stone, such as the size, shape, and location of the stone in the urinary tract (Fig. 1).
Severe pain (renal colic)
If the stone blocks the normal flow of urine through the ureter, you will experience severe pain, known as renal colic. This is sharp pain in the lower back and side (the part of the body from the ribs to the hip) (Fig. 2). If the stone is not in the kidney but in the ureter, you may feel pain in the groin or thigh. Men may also have pain in the testicles
Renal colic is caused by a sudden increase in pressure in the urinary tract and the wall of the ureters. The pain is not constant and does not decrease if you change position. It is described as one of the most painful experiences, similar to giving birth.
Other symptoms that can accompany kidney colic are:
- Blood in the urine (urine is pink in color)
- Painful urination
Renal colic is an urgent situation and you should contact your family doctor or the nearest hospital for pain relief. In case of high fever you should seek medical help immediately.
Dull pain or no symptoms
Stones can also cause a dull, recurring pain in the side. This type of pain can also be a symptom of other diseases, so medical tests will be needed to find out if you have kidney or ureteral stones.
Some calculations do not cause any discomfort. These are called asymptomatic stones and are usually small. Asymptomatic stones are usually discovered during an X-ray or other imaging procedure for other conditions.