Renal colic is a type of pain that is caused by a blockage in the urinary tract; from a urinary stone. Stones can build up anywhere in the urinary tract; kidneys, bladder, urethra and ureters. They form when minerals, such as calcium, get stuck together and create hard crystals.
The size of the stone differs for every patient; some will be the size of a grain of sand, whereas others can be as big as a golf ball. As they get bigger they can become more painful and problematic.
Here is a list of the most common associated symptoms:
- Intense pain between your hips and ribs or in the lower abdomen
- Pain that spreads to the lower back
- Vomiting and/or nausea
- Pain when you urinate
- Blood in your urine
- Fever or chills (this can occur if there is an infection)
- Visible grit in your urine
Renal colic pain will usually come and go in waves, affecting everyone in different ways.
It is estimated that around 12% of men and women will develop urinary stones within their life time, which can lead to renal colic. Here are some of the factors that can increase your risk of developing renal colic:
- A diet that is high in protein or oxalates
- History of urinary stone (in the family or personally)
- Problems with urinary tract infections
- Previous surgery, such as a gastric bypass
If you believe that you have renal colic or urinary stones, it is a good idea to go and see your GP. They will likely need a urine sample to test for mineral levels in the urine and also blood. You may also need to have a CT scan as this can help to find the blockage in the urinary tract that is causing the colic pain.
If a large stone is found, you will need to have it removed, which will relieve the renal colic pain. The most common procedures include:
- Shock wave
- Percutaneous nephrolithotomy
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.