Most kidney stones eventually pass from the kidney through the ureter and bladder and finally through the urethra on their own. However, treatment is often required for pain control from kidney stones as they pass. The consumption of ample fluids helps facilitate the passage of kidney stones, but even with plentiful fluid intake, most people require some type of medications for pain control.
OTC and narcotic pain medication for kidney stone pain
While over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) can be used, many people require stronger medications for adequate pain control. These medications include ketorolac (Toradol) or narcotic medications. Since nausea and vomiting can accompany the pain of kidney stones, it can be necessary for the pain medications to be given intravenously.
Calcium channel blockers, alpha blockers for kidney stone treatment
Other types of medications are sometimes used to speed the passage of kidney stones. Calcium channel blockers and alpha blockers are two classes of drugs that have been shown to speed the passage of kidney stones by relaxing the spasming ureter. Medications that have been successfully used to treat kidney stones include the calcium channel blocker nifedipine (Procardia, Adalat) and an alpha blocker such as tamsulosin (Flomax).
With particularly large kidney stones that are not able to pass on their own, shock waves can be used to break the stone into smaller fragments. This procedure is termed lithotripsy. Surgical treatments are also available for stones that do not respond to other treatment methods.
The most common surgical procedure is a ureteroscopy with laser lithotripsy. This procedure involves using a small scope to reach the stone, a laser to fragment the stone, and a small basket to remove the pieces.
Your doctor can recommend the best course of treatment if you suffer from kidney stones.
Medically reviewed by Michael Wolff, MD; American Board of Urology
MedscapeReference.com. Nephrolithiasis Treatment and Management.