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 stones

Certain medications may be used to help break down kidney stones, and other medications may be used to treat pain. Medications for renal colic include:

  • Allopurinol (for uric acid kidney stones)
  • Alpha-blocker medications to help stones pass
  • Antibiotics to clear infections
  • Cystine control medications to reduce cystine levels in urine
  • Diuretics
  • Pain medications
  • Potassium citrate or sodium bicarbonate to regulate urine pH and prevent stone formation
  • Sodium cellulose phosphate to bind calcium in the intestine

Other treatments for renal colic and kidney stones

In addition to medication, other treatments may be required to treat or remove kidney stones. In some cases, surgery may be required. Treatments for kidney stones include:

  • Heat therapy (for pain)
  • Lithotripsy (use of ultrasonic vibration to break down kidney stones)
  • Surgery to remove large stones
  • Ureteral stent placement, to keep the urine tubes from the kidneys to the bladder (ureters) open
  • Ureteroscopy (minimally invasive surgery)

What you can do to improve your renal colic

In addition to following the treatment plan prescribed by your medical professional, you may be able to improve your renal colic by:

  • Drinking plenty of fluids (six to eight glasses of water per day)
  • Using home remedies such as heat pads
  • Save any passed stones for testing to help determine underlying cause of stones

What are the potential complications of renal colic?

In many cases, kidney stones will pass on their own. Although renal colic is very painful, it does not usually lead to complications. In some people, however, kidney stones and renal colic may recur. Complications of untreated or poorly controlled renal colic can be serious. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of renal colic include:

  • Adverse effects of treatment
  • Blockage of the urinary tract
  • Kidney damage
  • Loss of kidney function
  • Recurrence of stones
  • Urinary tract infection


  1. Kidney stones. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH.
  2. Kidney stones in adults. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC).
  3. Bope ET, Kellerman RD (Eds.) Conn’s Current Therapy. Philadelphia: Saunders, 2013.
  4. Domino FJ (Ed.) Five Minute Clinical Consult. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2013.

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 a... Read more about renal colicintroduction


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

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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