Kidney stones can be a painful and difficult experience for the many men and women who get them. These stones are hard deposits of minerals that build up in the body and cause blockages in the urinary tract. The blockages can make it very painful and difficult to urinate. In addition to difficulty urinating, the stones can cause nausea as well as pain in the groin and abdomen. Luckily, there are many ways that urologists can help speed up the process.
Finding the best way to help a patient to pass a kidney stone depends on several factors. Not all patients are the same, and the size and difficulty of their kidney stones vary as well. If the stones are smaller than 5 millimeters, the urologist will want the patient to try and pass them naturally. This is the least invasive way to pass kidney stones, although it may not always be possible. Drinking lots of liquids for frequent urination is the key for this method. Urologists may also recommend movement like bicycling and jumping jacks to help dislodge the stones naturally.
If passing naturally is not an option, then medication may be the next step. Urologists will use some of the same medications that are used to treat an enlarged prostate. Medication like Flomax helps relieve pressure on the urinary tract by relaxing the muscles in the prostate. This allows for easier urine flow and can help the patient pass the stones.
Another treatment option that makes passing stones easier is called shock wave lithotripsy. This treatment uses a machine pressed up against the patient’s body that targets water waves directly at the kidney stones. With as many as 2,500 waves per treatment, these waves break the kidney stones into small, sand-like particles. The sandy remnant is then easily passed during urination.
In some cases, a more invasive treatment may be needed to remove the stones from the body. A surgeon may use a scope fitted with a medical laser to enter the patient’s urinary tract through the penis. They can then use the laser to break the stones up into smaller fragments for easier passing. This method is sure to help pass the stones, but a urologist may prefer to try more natural methods first.
There is no single method to passing kidney stones. What matters most is making the process as fast, safe and pain-free as possible. For more information about kidney stones, visit the Advance Urology Institute website.