Ureteral Colic (Kidney Stones)

ExitCare ImageUreteral colic is the result of a condition when kidney stones form inside the kidney. Once kidney stones are formed they may move into the tube that connects the kidney with the bladder (ureter). If this occurs, this condition may cause pain (colic) in the ureter.

CAUSES

Pain is caused by stone movement in the ureter and the obstruction caused by the stone.

SYMPTOMS

The pain comes and goes as the ureter contracts around the stone. The pain is usually intense, sharp, and stabbing in character. The location of the pain may move as the stone moves through the ureter. When the stone is near the kidney the pain is usually located in the back and radiates to the belly (abdomen). When the stone is ready to pass into the bladder the pain is often located in the lower abdomen on the side the stone is located. At this location, the symptoms may mimic those of a urinary tract infection with urinary frequency. Once the stone is located here it often passes into the bladder and the pain disappears completely.

TREATMENT

  • Your caregiver will provide you with medicine for pain relief.

  • You may require specialized follow-up X-rays.

  • The absence of pain does not always mean that the stone has passed. It may have just stopped moving. If the urine remains completely obstructed, it can cause loss of kidney function or even complete destruction of the involved kidney. It is your responsibility and in your interest that X-rays and follow-ups as suggested by your caregiver are completed. Relief of pain without passage of the stone can be associated with severe damage to the kidney, including loss of kidney function on that side.

  • If your stone does not pass on its own, additional measures may be taken by your caregiver to ensure its removal.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Increase your fluid intake. Water is the preferred fluid since juices containing vitamin C may acidify the urine making it less likely for certain stones (uric acid stones) to pass.

  • Strain all urine. A strainer will be provided. Keep all particulate matter or stones for your caregiver to inspect.

  • Take your pain medicine as directed.

  • Make a follow-up appointment with your caregiver as directed.

  • Remember that the goal is passage of your stone. The absence of pain does not mean the stone is gone. Follow your caregiver's instructions.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • Pain cannot be controlled with the prescribed medicine.

  • You have a fever.

  • Pain continues for longer than your caregiver advises it should.

  • There is a change in the pain, and you develop chest discomfort or constant abdominal pain.

  • You feel faint or pass out.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.