Kidney stones are deposits of mineral and acid salts that build up in the kidneys and then travel through the urinary tract. They can occur when urine becomes too concentrated, causing minerals to crystallize together. Kidney stones can be very painful, although most of the time they don’t cause any permanent damage.
Small stones many times will not require treatment. Usually drinking a lot of water and taking pain medications and sometimes taking an alpha blocker such as Flomax will help facilitate passage of the stone. Larger stones or those causing intolerable symptoms such as blood in the urine, pain or infection are generally treated. Standard treatments for kidney stones include using shockwave lithotripsy to break up the stone, or introducing a small telescope (ureteroscope) into the urinary tract to remove the stone with a basket or break up the stone with a laser, and rarely an open surgery may be needed.