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Why do kidney stones cause pain?

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Quick Answer

Kidney stones only cause pain when they cause blockage or irritation in the renal system. Once they start to cause pain, it escalates to extreme levels fairly quickly. Most kidney stones pass through the system without damaging anything but usually cause significant pain, notes the National Kidney Foundation.

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Why do kidney stones cause pain?
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Full Answer

Before excruciating pain comes from the abdomen, there are other possible symptoms that accompany a kidney stone. Urine that appears cloudy or has an unpleasant odor, nausea, vomiting, blood in urine, a nagging stomach ache, or chills and fever can signal the arrival of a kidney stone. The intense pain in the lower back or abdomen is a sure sign that the stone has settled somewhere, as stated by the National Kidney Foundation.

Kidney stones are hard objects that form from substances within the urine. When the ratio of waste to liquid is too high, crystals begin to form in the urine. These crystals draw other substances and combine to make a solid that gets bigger until the body passes it with urine. Most of the time, people who hydrate sufficiently wash the chemicals out before they can form stones. The chemicals that bind to form stones are phosphate, xanthine, cystine, urate and oxalate. Stones can remain in the kidney or move down the urinary tract into the ureter. Stones that do not move cause urine to back up in the kidney, bladder, ureter or urethra, leading to intense pain, notes the National Kidney Foundation.

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