Methods that help speed-up the passage of kidney stones include hydration, the use of pain-relievers and medications called alpha-blockers, explains Mayo Clinic. Most small kidney stones pass with minimal symptoms, and drinking 2 to 3 quarts of water per day can help flush them out.
Alpha-blockers are a class of drugs that a doctor can prescribe to improve the passage of stones, according to Mayo Clinic. Medications in this class of drugs relax the muscles of the ureter, which helps the stone pass quickly. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen and naproxen sodium, can help relieve the discomfort that some people feel during the passage of a stone.
Larger stones cannot be treated with conservative measures and usually require the use of invasive procedures, explains Mayo Clinic. Some doctors use an ultrasound machine to break large stones into little stones. This procedure is called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy, and lasts between 40 and 60 minutes.
Doctors can also break up stones with a ureteroscope, which is a thin tube with a camera that passes into the urethra through the bladder and into the ureter, describes Mayo Clinic. Once the stone is located with the camera, the doctor breaks it into smaller pieces, and the patient passes it in the urine. Stones that are difficult to break apart are treated surgically with a procedure called percutaneous nephrolithotomy.