What is renal colic?

Renal colic is a type of pain caused by kidney stones. Kidney stones (urolithiasis) are crystals that form from chemicals in the urine. Usually, a stone develops because too much of a single chemical is present in the urine. A stone may block the flow of urine and can cause pain if it travels down the tubes of the urinary tract.

While kidney stones can happen to anyone, they are most common in men between the ages of 20 and 30. Kidney stones, especially calcium stones, are common. You can have more than one kidney stone at a time, and they may be recurrent. With treatment, however, the symptoms of kidney stones usually can be effectively managed without complications (Source: PubMedHealth).

Symptoms of renal colic include pain, especially in the back, side or groin; blood in the urine; abnormally colored urine; fever; chills; and nausea with or without vomiting. Some have described renal colic as the most intense painful experience encountered in life. The tendency to form kidney stones may arise because of bowel disease, surgery, genetics, certain dietary factors, or diseases, such as cystinuria.

Treatment for kidney stones and renal colic depends on the type and size of stones. Small stones may be excreted on their own, especially if you drink a lot of water. Pain relievers may also be prescribed or used to manage the pain of kidney stones. Depending on the chemical makeup of the kidney stone, your doctor may prescribe a variety of medications. In very severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the stone.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), severe pain, or uncontrollable vomiting.

Seek prompt medical care if you are being treated for kidney stones and symptoms return or worsen, or new symptoms develop.


What are the symptoms of renal colic?

Symptoms of renal colic are related to the formation of crystals in the kidneys. These stones can block urine output, causing pain, swelling and infection.

Common symptoms of renal colic

You may experience renal colic symptoms daily or only occasionally. Any of these symptoms can be severe:


What causes renal colic?

Renal colic is triggered by the buildup of crystals, or stones, in the kidneys. When these stones interfere with the flow of urine, they can cause the kidneys to swell, producing waves of pain (colic). Kidney stones can form for a variety of reasons.

Causes of kidney stones

The kidney stones that lead to renal colic can be made up of a variety of chemicals and may be ca... Read more about renal coliccauses


How is renal colic treated?

Treatment for renal colic and kidney stones involves reducing pain and breaking up the stones. In some cases, kidney stones may pass on their own, allowing symptoms of renal colic to resolve. However, it is common for kidney stones to recur. Drinking plenty of fluids may help the stone to pass and may lessen the pain of renal colic.

Medications for renal colic and kidney stone... Read more about renal colictreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 6, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Kidneys and the Urinary System

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