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

  1. Sanjit Peter says:

    I have kidney stones 3.3 mm in left and 4mm in right kidney lower pole. I have been drinking a lot of water 5 ltrs a day. Its been a month. How long would it take to pass it. I have been told that stone inside kidney and in lower pole is difficult to pass.

  2. Ali Ghorbani says:

    I have been dealing with similar pain described by many. X-Ray, CT Scans, Urine test, none of them show/indicate kidney stone, but yet, everything I read says kidney stone. My doctor says the symptoms are most likely kidney stone and prescribed Tamsulosin 0.4 mg. My noticeable pain always has appeared inside my bladder at the tip of left pelvic bone, and couple of days ago when I go to pee, I feel very sharp pain at the beginning and then dull pain and then the pee starts to flow. Does this mean the stone is about to enter the bladder? I also think the doctors who read CT Scans should have a second doctor to read the same Scans before issuing an opinion, they seem to miss more often than not based on what I hear from others who suffer the same problem or have someone who has gone through it. Thanks for sharing your stories, it helps to know that there is hope even though it may be painful.

  3. serena says:

    I’m 16 and I woke up yesterday around 2 o’clock unable to move. went to the ER did a CT scan and all that, I have a 2mm kidney stone but at the time (around 5:30) it was already close to my bladder. it’s 3 pm the next day and I don’t feel a little discomfort on my right side, but besides that nothing hurts. did it pass? would I be a little sore from vomiting and the muscle spasms?

  4. Kiel Lillibridge says:

    Went into the ER just over 2 weeks ago with kidney stone pain. Was back in a day later when the pain came back. Then I had 2 weeks of no pain but urge to urinate and some discomfort. Went back in this week and found the stone (3mm) is still at the bottom of the ureter. However when they did the scan 2 weeks ago it was also near the bottom of the ureter so they thought it’d pass quickly but obviously it hasn’t. Eurologist has me scheduled next Wednesday for surgery if it doesn’t pass by then. Anyone know if this is common and the likelihood that it still should pass without surgery? Really don’t want to do surgery and have a stint put in. Trying flomax, lots of water, lemon juice, olive oil. Maybe try apple cider vinegar? Exercise? So frustrating that it’s just sitting so close to the bladder. Seems to somehow be stuck. Should I just do the surgery or give it more time?

  5. Melissa says:

    Hopefully this will help a friend of mine went to the ER for kidney stone and the ER Doctor told him to take a teaspoon of olive oil! He said he didn’t feel any pain from the kidney stone after that. From what I understand the olive oil coats the stone as its passing through!
    Wishing Everyone the Best of Health!♡

    • Tracy says:

      Thank you Melissa.
      I am going to try the olive oil.

      Best of Health to you

    • Sebron says:

      I’ve had at least 4 tablespoons of Olive oil and still feel pain. I’m having a hard time knowing where the stone is. Seems like it’s been in the Uterer for at least 48 hours and not making much progress. I’ve downed 5-6 liters of water each day. I’m wondering if it’s in the bladder and can’t quite get started down the Uretha.

      Best thing for pain for me has been taking a couple of 200mg ibuprofen ever 3-4 hours. Helps me get through the day at work.

  6. Aarthi says:

    I have 12mm stone but whn I pass urine blood is coming from ureter and and I feel tht stone near near can u suggest me

  7. naushardh says:

    hi guys I see that I am one of many suffering with kidney stones. I too have been suffering for a long time I currently have a stone that 4-5mm in size. some of you may think it sounds silly but there are ways to help ease the pain. I have read many things on the net on how to help get rid of stones how to ease the pain and I have tried almost everything you can come across. I have found that lemon juice is amazing and does wonders in helping those little craters pass. mix with a olive oil helps to soften you up inside so if the stone is stuck somewhere it will start to move again. that can also be painfull if the scrapes against your insides I have personally experienced this pain but it has relieved the pain which was worse off before. now I feel the stone at the lower bottom of the bladder only it may be a little bit too big to just pass through easily so when I go out its extremely sore and then all of a sudden nothing wants to come out. until another few minutes gotta run back to the loo. I believe that apple cider vinegar also does wonders it somehow dissolves the stone although it takes a long time to do so when a stone is is put into a a glass of only apple cider vinegar therefore will take much longer being consumed. well that much I can say about getting it as far as bladder any ideas of how to get it out of the bladder as quick as possible would be highly appreciated.

  8. Tiffanie says:

    Please help! I have passed about 11 stones and out of those had 2 lithotripsy’s to have them removed. Every stone I have passed has been between 4-7 mm. I am now currently passing a stone at what the Dr says is 3mm, but I am confused as to why this one is giving me so much trouble when I have passed stones double this size and jagged. But to my question… I have been having trouble with this stone for a little over a month, at first I thought it was bad period cramps, but my period had passed and the pain got worse, so then I knew it was another stone. I waited until the pain was unbearable before I finally had to go to the er with the pain in my side and slightly in the front , they told me it was in the ureter. That was a little over a week ago. Now the pain I feel is very intense and feels like it’s right at the tip of my pee hole. I’m confused as to where the stone is actually located. I was told there is not pain once it drops to the bladder, but I have not had a moment without pain. Any insight as to where the stone might be and how much longer this will go on for? The pain is unbearable.

  9. Michelle says:

    I have had larger (up to 9mm) in the past. Total of 8 kidney stones all over 5mm in my left kidney. The pain is like no other. Mine all came on with no back pain to side cramping within minutes then sweating and profusely vomiting. The first time this happened my husband called the rescue because I could stop. I was admitted and have had a total of three endoscopy surgeries with stents. Last Saturday my back started hurting very slightly, in my defense I thought it was my back (I have two slipped discs where it was hurting, so pain there is normal), then side cramp suddenly and back to hysterical vomiting. Again we had to call the rescue squad, and once again another CT showed a kidney stone. This time it’s 4mm and hospital said they don’t admit until it’s over 5mm and I must pass on my own. I have now gone 1 week, no stone has past – and I have been using the mesh strainer given to me. Taking Flomax and still nothing. I fear another surgery is required, but how long should one wait? I have had slight cramping daily towards from lower abdomen.

  10. Patrick says:

    I have a kidney stone at the moment and when I pee it burns and after I still feel like I have to pee but nothing will come out when I try. Can someone tell me what this means?

  11. ramzi ibrahim says:

    i have 13.5 *8.3 mm renal stone located at vesicureter junction near bladder , i discovered it by chance when pain happened in 11\11\2015 , afer doing CT SCAN every thing for kidney and ureter normal and size as above .
    now iam taking :
    renavive cap 2*2
    ominic ocas tab 1*1
    prednisonlon tab 1*2
    2-3 L water

    what is your advice for me ?
    who long i can wait ?before doing endoscopy ?

  12. anita says:

    I’m still going through some issues with stones.
    Had a stone pass about 3 years ago. Very painful OMG. I did not feel the stone passing out my urethra though. Is that weird? It obviously passed.

    I had dealt with a stone lodged in my ureter. I never felt that the stone passed. I got very sick from the constant UTI’s, and even had an allergic reaction to Cipro. That sent me to the hospital overnight. Dr. placed a stint for about 3 weeks. He said he did not see an obstruction, and a CT scan proved it. But why do I still feel pain where it was, and I have another UTI? It’s been about 2 weeks of great relief until now. I’m concerned about how sick I get, and how long I’ve been suffering from this.

    I know I still have stones in my kidneys. Does this go on until all stones pass?

    • Andy says:

      I had an attack a week ago, mine felt like it lodged in the ureter too. For a few days I felt like I had a UTI and trouble peeing. After a few days, this feeling passed and pee flowed a little freer but now I have a pain kind of in my bladder and pelvic region (and in the groin when peeing and minutes after). I’m not entirely sure if it passed or not, but I’ve never had one give me such a persistent pain outside of the lower back pain that comes with these.

      From what I’ve read tho, if the doctors don’t see anything on the CT scan, don’t take that as proof of being stone free, it could be hiding in there somewhere.

      Also, when you say you get sick from the UTI, do u mean like a fever and such?

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