Ask us: How will I know when a stone has dropped into the bladder?

In our “Ask a kidney stone doctor” section, we field questions from stone formers or their family members. Today’s question is about knowing when a stone has passed successfully. See other questions and answers or ask your own question here.

July 26, 2011

Question from a stone former actively passing a stone:

I have been diagnosed with a kidney stone.  I am experiencing pain that has now moved to my side.  Occasionally I will get waves of overall abdominal pain, but the sharp pains are still generally located to the side.  How will I be able to tell when the stone has dropped to the bladder?
I’ve been drinking 4L of water (at least) a day for 8 days now and the stone still has not passed. I would rather now go into work and keep on with my life until the stone passes – I am just concerned with knowing the warning signs of when the stone is very close to passing.



During stone episodes, stones generally cause a predictable sequence
of symptoms as they move down the ureter. Initially, pain is located
in the back when the stone is located up near the kidney. As the stone
moves further down, the pain can also be located in the side and in
the abdomen. When the stone is in the lower part of the ureter, the
pain moves toward the front of the abdomen. Once a stone is entering
into the bladder, patients may also feel the urgency to urinate and
can feel pain in the groin. Once the stone makes it into the bladder,
there should be a relief of pain. While this sequence is typical, some
patients may experience different symptoms. We have more information
on this on our “What causes kidney stone pain?” page.

Staying hydrated is a good idea but it is not clear if it speeds the
passage of stones (make sure though to not drink more than about 1
liter in an hour, as water intoxication can occur with intakes of 2
liters an hour or higher). Use of certain medications, such as
tamsulosin, does appear to shorten stone passage. You should know
though that use of this medication for this purpose is “off label” and
should be discussed with your treating physician. Other factors that
influence the likelihood and speed of stone passage includes the size
of the stone and its location. Stones can take up to 6-8 weeks to
pass. If they have not passed by then, treatment may be required.


Before making any medical decisions, always consult with your treating physician.

About Dr. Mike Nguyen

Mike M Nguyen, MD, MPH, is a urologist and an Associate Professor of Clinical Urology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC in Los Angeles, CA. He specializes in the treatment of kidney stones with both surgery and dietary prevention and the in the treatment of kidney and prostate cancer using the latest robotic surgical approaches. He sees patients at clinics located in Los Angeles, Pasadena, and La Canada, CA. He is the founder of the website.
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111 Responses to Ask us: How will I know when a stone has dropped into the bladder?

  1. Rudra says:

    I have a stone of size 11 mm 2 months back. Doctor told i should go for surgery. I did nt go for surgery. I am taking water and vulavulu telugu word water melon now it came to size 9mm but i am getting pain at the ribs. Can any body suggest me whether stone is moving or not

  2. Sara says:

    This is my third time having stones. The first time I wasn’t diagnosed and had no clue what was happening to me until I found a stone in my underwear after the pain had subsided. The second time I thought I had a UTI and went to the ER to receive a diagnosis of kidney stones, the largest being 5mm. (I was pregnant both times.) They told me it was stuck and the opening to the bladder and unlikely that I would pass it on my own. I went home and drank raw apple cider vinegar with my water, about a tablespoon in my jug every time I refilled and that sucker passed within 24 hours. I also had a lot of friends praying for me. So I can’t say enough about both. Thank God for the raw ACV, though. Chug that stuff with your water and pray to Jesus for mercy! Raw ACV is a godsend for kidney stone sufferers. I recommend drinking it in a glass of water at least once a day to keep the stones away, even after you pass them., it’s good for so many things. I got lazy once my stones passed and thought I was in the clear, but once you get stones once, your likelihood of getting them again increases. And here I am again. Prayers for you all who are miserable right now! It won’t last forever.

  3. VARGHESE JOY says:

    intaking sweet broomweed herb is the best cure naturally. can take it in morning for upto 7 days

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