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A Doctor's View on What Are the Symptoms and Signs of Kidney Stones?

Read the Comment by Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

Symptoms and signs of kidney stones include intense pain that begins on the side of the low back and may radiate to the abdomen. Associated symptoms and signs include:

  • sweating,
  • vomiting, and
  • nausea.
Read the entire Doctor's View

What are the signs and symptoms of kidney stones?

While some kidney stones may not produce symptoms (known as "silent" stones), people who have kidney stones often report the sudden onset of excruciating, cramping pain in their low back and/or side, groin, or abdomen. Changes in body position do not relieve this pain. The abdominal, groin, and/or back pain typically waxes and wanes in severity, characteristic of colicky pain (the pain is sometimes referred to as renal colic). It may be so severe that it is often accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The pain has been described by many as the worst pain of their lives, even worse than the pain of childbirth or broken bones. Kidney stones also characteristically cause bloody urine. If infection is present in the urinary tract along with the stones, there may be fever and chills. Sometimes, symptoms such as difficulty urinating, urinary urgency, penile pain, or testicular pain may occur due to kidney stones.

Return to Kidney Stones

See what others are saying

Comment from: Suzyq, 55-64 Female (Patient) Published: August 29

When I had kidney stone I had intermittent pain in the center of my back. When I had the pain, it would be so intense that it would take my breath away. It felt like what I would imagine being stabbed with a knife would feel like. Very severe, sharp pain in my back. I also had pain in my left abdomen. I also had blood in my urine almost daily for several days and my urine had a different smell. I felt really tired and didn't have my normal energy.

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Comment from: Dan G, 45-54 Male (Patient) Published: May 13

This was my second kidney stone. The thing that threw me off is that there was not nearly the same amount of severe pain that I experienced the first time. I felt a slight ache just to the left of my groin area. I thought maybe it was the beginning of a hernia. I went to a local urgent care and explained my symptoms and they wrote it off as a urinary tract infection. I was given Bactrim and that's it. Two days later the pain was not getting any better so went to the emergency room. They found a large 6.5 mm X 4.5 mm stone close to the entrance to the bladder. I went to the urologist. Ten days later it still did not pass and a ureteroscopy with laser finally broke up the stone. Lithotripsy was tried but did not work. It was impacted with tissue and was not going anywhere. Do not ignore any pain if you have had stones in the past. It's not worth it, better to be on the safe side.

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Comment from: Charlotte, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: February 11

I hope I never again get kidney stones. The pain began on the left side all around the kidney area. I knew this wasn't a pain I had experienced before. It wasn't long before the pain became horrendous. I was violently sick and was also experiencing tummy cramps. TO cut a long story short the pain was excruciating, I couldn't walk, stand sit or lie, I just wanted to die. An ambulance was called, and after having some wonderful nitrous oxide I was able to get to the sofa. I have given birth naturally twice and this was right up there on the agony scale. The CT scan showed that the stone was at the junction of the bladder and urethra. This happened yesterday 9th February, but I still haven't passed it. All I can say is thank goodness for gas and air, morphine and rectal Voltarol suppositories.

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