Kidney stones develop in the urinary tract system in the human body. The two kidneys reside in the back, one on each side of the spinal cord, and below the rib cage. The ureter, a tube below the kidney, links the kidneys to the urinary bladder or sack. The urinary bladder holds the urine produced by the kidneys. A tube called a urethra connects to the urinary bladder to allow urine to exit from the body.
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Stones develop in the kidney from crystal formation from chemicals, according to Harrison’s Principles of Medicine. The small crystals pass out of the system. Crystals that collect in the kidney develop into stones. According to the National Institute of Health, the most common chemicals forming kidney stones include calcium phosphate and calcium oxalate. Less common substances that produce stones consist of cystine, uric acid and magnesium ammonium phosphate. If the stone obstructs the ureter, the kidney may swell or you may develop pain in the flank or kidney location on the back. Stones in the kidney may produce blood in the urine.
Burning Sensation Pain
Mild to severe pain arises when kidney stones enter the tube--the ureter--between the kidney and the urinary bladder. The pain becomes excruciating, cramping and sharp with stones larger than 5mm. The ureter contains muscle, and the muscle cells twitch or spasm when stones flow through the tube. Coe, Evan and Worcester report the pain as a boring or burning sensation associated with nausea and vomiting. As the stones near the bottom of the ureter tube, there is difficulty urinating and frequency of urination. Kidney stones over 7mm or 1/4 inch require a doctor's removal.
When kidney stones reach the urinary bladder, bladder spasms may occur and cause pain in the lower abdominal area. According to Emergency Medicine, the rough stones may cause blood in the urine, producing pink colored urine with small amounts of blood and very red urine with large amounts of blood.
Kidney stone pain usually arises suddenly. Emergency Medicine says you may exhibit anxiety, pacing and an inability to lie still during an examination. If you pass a stone, symptoms go away immediately.
- Emergency Medicine: Urological Stone Disease; J. E. Tintinalli et al.; 2004.
- Harrison’s Principles of Medicine: Nephrolithiasis; A. S. Fauci et al.; 2008.
- “Journal of Clinical Investigations”; Kidney Stone Disease; F. Coe, A. Evan & E. Worcester; October 2005.
- National Institute of Health: Kidney Stones.