Is it just on one side?
We've all been there. You feel a pain in your lower back. You didn't have a tough workout recently and you don't remember bumping into anything. What's this weird pain? And how do you know if it's something serious with your kidneys?
- Severe, sharp pain in the lower back
- May spread to the groin area
- Comes in waves
- Feels like you may have pulled a muscle
When someone comes into the emergency room (ER) with lower back pain, there are a few immediate possibilities that cross ER Dr. Sampson Davis's mind: lower back strain, sciatica, a herniated disk, a ruptured aneurysm (for older populations), and, possibly, a kidney infection and/or kidney stones depending on the location of the pain, he says.
Where Is Kidney Stone Pain?
Kidney stone pain is predominately on one side, the left or right side of the body. Pain from stones typically appears suddenly, whereas your traditional lower back pain may have a more gradual onset, Davis says. The pain also tends to radiate to the front of your abdomen. Other symptoms may include pain when urinating, nausea, and blood in the urine.
Who Is at Risk for Kidney Stones?
Most people can develop kidney stones, says gastroenterologist Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa. Risk factors include a family history of kidney stones, dehydration, and certain diets high in protein or sodium.
What Do Kidney Stones Look Like?
The stones can range from a spec of glitter to the size of a ping pong ball. Some stones can pass without you even noticing, but other, larger stones can be very painful.
How Are They Formed?
Kidney stones form when urine contains more of something than what the fluid in your urine can dilute. At the same time, your urine may lack substances needed to prevent kidney stones from forming, Rajapaksa says. Urine is full of minerals, and if it isn't diluted enough, these deposits can get stuck and block up the urinary tract.
Can You Prevent Kidney Stones?
Dr. Raj recommends eating 3 servings of calcium a day because calcium can lower the risk for stone formation and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated. When you are dehydrated, your urine could be too concentrated, therefore making minerals more likely to stick and cause kidney stones.
See your doctor if your pain does not go away quickly or gets worse. For sharp, immediate pain, visit he ER or urgent care.