Do you have (sometimes severe or dull) side or back pain just below the ribs? Are you urinating more often than normal? Is your urine cloudy or discolored? You might have kidney stones (also known as renal stones). Fortunately, at Pikes Peak Urology in Colorado Springs, CO, we have the technology and medical specialists to amply diagnose and treat kidney stones.
Kidney stones affect approximately 10 percent of Americans over the course of their lives. Here in the Colorado Springs region, with the high altitude and dry environment, kidney stones are even more common due to the high risk of dehydration. Fortunately, there are a number of easy dietary modifications that aid in the prevention of kidney stones. The National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse has information on kidney stone prevention.
An acute kidney stone episode is one of the most painful experiences of a person’s life. There are numerous treatment options for kidney stones depending on the size, location and number of stones including noninvasive shockwave lithotripsy, ureteroscopic stone removal or percutaneous stone removal. We have extensive experience with all of these techniques. One of our partners, Dr. Jeffrey Moody, is also the only kidney stone fellowship-trained urologist in the Pikes Peak region.
We would be happy to assist you in your diagnosis, treatment and prevention of further kidney stones. Please call to schedule a consultation with any one of our physicians. Schedule a consultation today to learn about our services for kidney stone treatment in Colorado Springs, Colorado:
Kidney Stone Treatment Details
In this video, Colorado Springs urologist, Jeffrey A. Moody, MD, explains the various kidney stone treatment methods offered at Pikes Peak Urology:
What Are Kidney Stones?
The kidney’s job is to filter waste from the blood, thus creating urine. Kidney stones are formed when salts and other minerals within urine stick together. The stones can vary in size from a stone as small as a sugar crystal on up to one the size of a golf ball. They often go unnoticed unless the stones create a blockage. They can cause intense pain if a stone breaks loose and pushes into the narrow ducts that lead to the bladder. This pain has been said to be on the same level as giving birth.
Types of Kidney Stones:
Not all kidney stones are exactly the same. In fact, there are four main types:
- Calcium Stones: Most often, kidney stones are of the calcium variety. They can be caused by dietary factors, intestinal bypass surgery, high doses of vitamin D, or various metabolic disorders.
- Cystine Stones: This type of stone is most often a result of a hereditary disorder that results in the kidneys excreting too much of specific amino acids.
- Uric Acid Stones: This is a stone commonly found in people who either lose too much fluid or don’t drink enough, those who have gout or those who eat a diet high in protein. However, some genetic factors can also lead to uric acid stones.
- Struvite Stones: These stones are often formed due to an infection. They grow rapidly and cause few symptoms.
Kidney stones are also classified by location:
- Calyceal Stone: A calculus found in the renal pelvis or calices.
- Renal Pelvic Stone: A calculus generally found in the center of the kidney organ.
- Upper Ureter Stone: A calculus found in the narrowing of the ureter where stones may obstruct.
What Are Symptoms of Kidney Stones?
According to the Mayo Clinic, you likely won’t even notice you have a kidney stone unless it moves into the tube connecting your bladder and kidneys, like mentioned above. However, if that happens, you can expect to experience the following symptoms:
- Only urinating in small amounts at a time
- Chills and fever
- Needing to urinate more often than normal
- Vomiting and nausea
- Foul-smelling or cloudy urine
- Brown, red or pink urine
- Experiencing pain when urinating
- Pain that fluctuates or comes in waves and is sometimes intense
- Pain that moves or radiates from the groin to the lower abdomen
- Intense, severe pain below your ribs and in the back and side
What Causes Kidney Stones?
There is not usually one singular cause of kidney stones. However, there are various factors that can lead to an increased risk for kidney stones:
- Dehydration: If you fail to drink enough water on a daily basis, it can increase your chances of experiencing kidney stones. Consequently, if you live in a warm climate and sweat frequently, you might be at a greater risk for dehydration.
- Personal or Family History: If you have experienced kidney stones before or you have a strong family history of them, you are at a greater risk for kidney stones.
- Certain Medical Conditions: Some conditions and diseases can increase your risk of developing kidney stones. These conditions include urinary tract infections, hyperparathyroidism, cystinuria or renal tubular acidosis. Some medications can also increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
- Digestive Surgery or Diseases: Chronic diarrhea, inflammatory bowel disease or gastric bypass surgery can all increase your risk of kidney stones. This is because they can change the way your body digests food, thus altering your absorption of water and calcium. This, in turn, will over increase the substances in your urine that can cause stones to form.
- Being Overweight: Being considered obese means you have a larger waist size. This is yet another risk factor associated with kidney stones.
- Specific Dietary Choices: Having a diet that is high in sugar, salt or protein can increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
How Can Kidney Stones be Prevented?
The experts at Pikes Peak Urology recommend you avoid the risk factors listed above to prevent kidney stones. If you have a strong medical history or want more information how actions you can take to prevent the condition, they are happy to speak with you about the problem. However, prevention isn’t always possible.
What Are Treatment Options at Pikes Peak Urology?
The treatment options for treating kidney stones vary based on the severity of the symptoms. If you are only experiencing mild to moderate symptoms, most often you will be advised to drink plenty of water and take pain relievers or other medication to ease your pain until the stone passes. However, the following are optional treatments for larger, more painful stones:
- Sound Waves: Depending on the size, type and location of your kidney stones, you might be able to use sound waves to break them up. This procedure is more formally called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL). ESWL is performed under light anesthesia or sedation. It lasts from 45 to 60 minutes.
- Surgery: Another option to treat large kidney stones is percutaneous nephrolithotomy surgery. This involves the removal of stones via instruments through a small incision in your back, using a telescope as a guide. You can expect to spend one to two days recovering in the hospital after this procedure.
- Scope: Your doctor might opt to insert a thin tube called a ureteroscope into your kidney or ureter to either remove the stones or break them up so they are easier to pass.
Have More Questions?
We’re happy to help. Treating kidney stones is but one of many urology services we offer. Simply contact our office to discuss your options for kidney stone treatments in Colorado Springs at Pikes Peak Urology. A board-certified urologist will explain the process and what you can expect in terms of outcomes, safety, recovery, and more.