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

  1. Stephanie says:

    I’ve been dealing with Kidney stones off and on for a while now. I even spent this past Thanksgiving in the ER passing a 5mm stone… not fun. Only one problem. My doctor says I need to catch a stone to diagnose what kind I’m passing so that I can figure out how to make them stop. And of course I’m having NO luck what so ever at catching one of the painfully annoying stones. I’ve strained and strained and still nothing. Any suggestions? I’ve started taking magnesium as the ER doctor suggested. Still having stones…. He also suggested cutting out any carbonated beverages and caffeine, which I had already given up a couple years ago. I rarely drink soda and I don’t drink coffee or tea… I honestly don’t know what is causing my stones and i’d love to be able to catch one so I can figure it out… sooner than later, as the pain is just stupid….

  2. rashid says:

    i have chanca piedra but i dont know how to use it.kindly help

  3. Tim says:

    Whoever said to pinch off your pee when it starts so it stretches your bladder is genius!

  4. Beth says:

    Need some feedback PLEASE! A couple of weeks ago I was feeling achy mostly my upper back and shoulders, out of nowhere I urinated blood with what appeared to be small blood clots. My doctor treated me for a UTI while my urine was sent out for testing. I felt much better after taking the antibiotic but my urine came back with no infection. My doctor sent me for a CAT scan to check for stones but found none. Is it possible that what happened is I passed a stone? I’m very nervous not knowing what happened and wonder if this sounds like it was a stone?

    • Adam says:

      I can only speak from my experience, but I have never passed a stone without noticing. You can usually feel it move through your urethra as you use the restroom, sometimes the stream stops and there is pressure and it pushes through. But I have never passed anything smaller then a 2mm stone, so maybe?

  5. Make says:

    I have been to hospital for my scan, and I was told I wasn’t having any kidney stone, and after everything I still feel pains at my kidney side. And I was told to be taken lemon and a lot of water, but for 5 days now, I’m feeling the pains going round, but I don’t know if I can pee mine out, I’m only having pains at my back side and my urine colorful, because I have been feeling this pains for about 11 moment, but I thouyit was my normal back pain. I need your help, I would have love to send my results of my scan

  6. Peter says:

    You can pass an 8mm stone. It depends on the shape of the stone. Mine that passed was 8mm long by 4mm wide. It looked like an ibuprofen gel cap. Chanca Piedra (Phyllanthus niruri) is better then Flomax(less side effects) and can possibly break the stone up in smaller pieces. It relaxes the smooth muscles of the urinary tract and is also helpful for gall stones.


    • Peter says:

      P.S. I will be having surgery in November. I have a 30x27mm in my left kidney. The Chanca Piedra did help pass the 6mm stone in the right kidney that was causing my UTI when the stone was moving. Cranberry gel caps and the Chanca Piedra did get rid of the fever as well as the pain. It took about 5 days for the stone to move into the bladder.

  7. Matt Van Every says:

    Okay, here is the secret to passing a stone, and to keeping the stone at bay throughout the years. It will not by itself solve the stone issue, but with change of diet and attentiveness, make a large difference.

    When a stone is present, and you’re actively attempting to pass it, this is essential. Whatever you have going on, set a timer….as you’ll likely pass your stone within 36 hours of starting this potion.

    A little background…

    I got my first stone three years ago. I was urinating, and got a sudden itchy feeling in my testicles, I brushed it off and went to finish watching The Walking Dead with my then wife. I sat in my La-Z-Boy (wife repellent by the way) and forgot about the itch.

    About 3 minutes later I flopped to the ground as if I had been shot! My then wife said she thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t know at the time, but it was my introduction to kidney stones.

    I’m lactose intolerant so no stranger to stomach pain, and it usually will pass. I tried to fight this off as I always had my pains. After about 4 hours, with my wife and kids sleeping in another room because I was writhing around, I was in bad shape. I thought I might be dying. I wasn’t able to work a laptop to search symptoms, nothing. Finally, I called 911, if for no other reasons than I couldn’t drive anywhere, and I wasn’t going to wait at the ER, I wanted in immediately.

    Let me say, for the uninitiated….the pain from a bad stone is unbearable. It’s like nothing you’ve ever imagined in your worst nightmares. They say that it’s the “male version of giving birth,” but I met a woman that had done both births and passed a stone, she said unequivocally, it wasn’t comparable…passing a stone was much, much worse. You literally wouldn’t wish it on your enemy.

    So that first night, it was diagnosed and I passed it right there in the ER, only about 5-6 hours total. It did break up on it’s own and passed as more or less dust….

    My urologist I met with the next day, and he explained that I had to change my diet, or get used to having stones once a year, like clockwork. What does he know, he’s only a doctor!? I had given up drink and drug about 4 years previously, so I justified my 5-6 daily Dr. Pepper’s by saying I earned it because it was my only vice.

    The first time was November of 2014, and like clockwork, in Octobe 2015 I was pumping gas and felt a sudden pang of pain, and instantly knew…. the timing had already been on my mind and it was unmistakable. I got in the car and sped to the ER, dry heaving and in a cold sweat the entire way there.

    This second time was truly hell on earth. I got to the ER desk, was, fortunately, the only person there, slapped my ID on the table and proceeded to fall to the ground and writhe around like a breakdancer.

    Ultimately, this next time lasted about 72 hours, and the pain ebbed and flowed for about an hour really bad at a time, mixed with 5-6 hours of not much pain at all. Typically when it would kick in, I felt it coming, and laid down and would mercifully pass out.

    This was when I was told about the potion. One of those Facebook blessings, I mentioned what was happening and an old friend who was stationed in Japan in the mililtary contacted me and offered the recipe. He said he’d learned it from a friend’s grandfather, a 98-year-old Korean man who I will always be grateful to.

    The recipe makes sense and you hear the ingredients, but I’d never heard them all together.

    Raw, Unflitered Apple Cider Vinegar
    Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice

    Mix these ingredients in to until it’s thick and gross, and mix in some coconut water to help it go down. Put it in a empty water bottle and refrigerate.

    While passing a stone, take a shot every hour on the hour when awake, and as soon as you wake when not.

    When not passing the stone, I’d recommend a shot or so a week, of just the citrus and the apple cider vinegar. The EVOO, I’ve since found out, is to grease the urinary tract and help the stone to squeeze down the line and out the chute as quickly and painlessly as possible. When not actively passing, it’s not necessary.

    That’s it folks…I just passed my first one in over two years, and it was not that bad, just some light pain that I mistook the first night for bad gas. When I learned it was a stone, I was shocked because the pain just wasn’t that bad.

    Good luck…don’t deviate. The 98-year-old Korean grandfather told my friend, who told me, to take this potion exactly as I’ve prescribed here. Since discovering it, I’ve prescribed it to at least a dozen friends passing a stone, and it’s 100% effective in less than 36 hours. That’s not to say there won’t eventually be a exception…if it’s you, congratulations, but don’t bash the potion…far more often than not, it works 100% of the time 😉

    • Matt Van Every says:

      Let me add…that after that second time with the stone…when it took 36 hours and I was introduced to the potion. I have not had one single caramel-colored drink since. Also I never have been a coffee or tea drinker. No doubt the absence of carmel-colored soda has helped the potion to keep me stone free.

    • Jay Fox says:

      What is the amounts of the above ingredients?

    • Crystle says:

      “Until thick and gross” is that the way you measure it? I’m looking for amounts if you use them. I’ll try anything at this point.

  8. Dan says:

    Diagnosed with 4 kidney stone two in my right kidney one in my left and a 6mm stone stuck in my ureter and i have absolutely no pain…why??

    • Seth says:

      Dan I have one in my left that is stuck also around the same size! I had the stone pain but then it was less and less and now almost no pain. Got an ultrasound and said if it doesn’t pass soon the Urologist will have to go in an get it because it partially blocking kidney flow.

  9. Tsuresh says:

    I have a 0.4×0.9cm right renal calculi in lower. pls suggest how to cure

  10. Hans Whitaker says:

    It has been about 2 and a half months since I was diagnosed with a kidney stone and have taken 2 flomax prescriptions for 30 days each and I believe the stone has traveled down to the bladder because there is a tight and throbbing sensation occasionally , mainly when it is full , it is about 6mm will it pass on it’s own

  11. Abe Kay says:

    To everyone who is suffering from kidney stones. READ THIS
    Before I begin my rant, I have a suggestion for those currently suffering through the pain of a passing stone – long hot showers would often help me (but when that didn’t work I used Oxycodone).

    A COMMON CAUSE OF KIDNEY STONES (I have read varying opinions of how common ranging from 20-50%) is caused by high calcium levels from hyperparathyroidism (a non malignant tumor of 1 or more parathyroids. Get your calcium and PTH (parathyroid hormone) levels checked. The parathyroids are 4 glands, about the size of a grain of rice, generally located on the corners of the thyroid, hence the name, para (next to) thyroid. They monitor calcium levels in the blood. When there is a tumor they can leech calcium out of your bones, causing Osteoporosis, kidney stones, heart failure & much more. For some reason my urologist never checked my levels, that’s why I’m here informing you.

    The following is for those who discover they have Hyperparathyroidism.
    Minor outpatient surgery called hyperparathyroidectamy (removal of the tumored parathyroid) CURES the problem. BUT due to the specific nature of the parathyroid you must use a surgeon who specializes in this surgery (choose someone who performs AT LEAST 50 per year [in NY Dr Sanford Dubner preforms more than 150 per year, the most in NY, i recommend him]).

    One more point (I have researched this to death) I would not recommend Dr Norman or the Norman Parathyroid center in Tampa. Good website ( lots of information but keep in mind he’s trying to sell you and IMHO it’s not all true.

    From what i have found, neither Dr. Norman nor his surgeons are Endocrinologists and they are NOT board certified (huge red flag for me). Their claims of high success rates are based on the fact that there is no follow up so they don’t find out about those patients who’s veins collapsed due to their visually checking all 4 parathyroids. BTW I’m not saying don’t do this, i’m just suggesting you talk to your Dr. and or surgeon about the benefits of checking all 4, don’t rely on the info from a website on which every page states a disclaimer that what’s written is their opinion.

    I wish you all a speedy recovery.

  12. Joe says:

    Hi i had a 4mm stone and although i am nit getting the sharp pains i was getting – there is still residual pain and i am concerned. Ill be drinking ACV with water for a while to see if i can dislodge any residual material. I know it’s in my bladder – but just not sure if it will ever come out.

  13. kunal says:

    my right ureter is dilated due to the presence of 6.6 x 5.7 mm calculus at right vesico-ureteric junction.
    what should i do now…is the sone too large? weather it will be remove without surgery?

  14. Nic says:

    This is my experience with a 6mm stone…
    The left back flank pain began on April the 19, 2017 and lasted for about 24hrs. This initiated the first visit to ER. ER confirmed it was in all likelihood a stone base on blood and urine analysis. However, to be completely sure they recommended a CT scan. I declined because I was out of country at the time and did not want to complicate things with my insurance provider. I visited my doctor on the 20th of April.
    She referred me to X-Ray and Ultra-Sound and scheduled an appointment with Urologist on May 17, 2017.
    On April 23rd I had another painful attack on my left back flank, not as severe as the first round on the 19th but still painful.
    Went for the Ultra-Sound and X-Ray on Monday the 24th of April and found out the dimensions of my stone 6mm left Ureter and also 1 stone 2-3mm in right kidney.
    As I am writing this (May 10, 2017) I have not seen my Urologist, remember appointment is set for May 17, 2017 (Canadian healthcare system).
    There was no significant pain between the April 25 through May 3rd, only some discomfort in my back, scrotum, left testicle and bladder. On May the 3rd I began having the urge to pee chronically. This lasted for approximately 5 days but the urgency did lessen with each passing day. Also I should mention since finding out about the stone I have been drinking 5-8 liters of water daily.
    Yesterday, May 9th I passed the stone at around 5pm. It was anti climactic but nonetheless extremely happy. I have the stone and will present it to my Urologist on the 17th for analysis.

    Here is a brief summary of what I learned/experience:
    Drink lots of water
    Take Flomax to increase diameter of the plumbing
    I also began taking Chanca Piedra 500mg/day not entirely sure if this worked. However, I can tell you that most pictures of stones were jagged, mine was more rounded. Not sure if this is due to Chanca Piedra but I have read that they break down the stone. Regardless, I was grasping and thought I would try anything.
    The Ureter is 3mm in diameter and does not expand. The stone passing through the Ureter is the most painful part. Once the stone passes this tube its pretty much uneventful.
    When the stone is entering the bladder I felt a tremendous urge to pee like having a UTI without the fever, chills and body aches. Push through it and drink lots of water.
    When the stone enters the bladder its now a waiting game and the passing will be almost irrelevant.
    Also, I drank water with lemon in it occasionally based on what I have read in terms of Citric helping eliminate stones.
    I am a 46 year old male 5’11 weighing 195lbs.
    I am healthy otherwise and excise daily.
    I have had one stone 6 years ago and believe my stone was created by dehydration and too much protein. Of course I can’t prove this but believe this to be the case.
    I hope this provides info to others going through this situation. I know I found this website very helpful.

    • Sarah says:

      Not true that the ureter doesn’t expand. I had a 8 by 9mm stone in my ureter and the ER doctor said it most definitely can pass because the ureter expands. Flomax also helps.

    • Shell says:

      Nic, don’t complain about the Canadian Healthcare System! I’m living in California now and nursing a possible kidney stone. It took me forever to find a walkin clinic because they’ve all shut down (I live in San Jose!) and I didn’t want to go to the ER because the last time I went for an ovarian cyst they billed me nearly $10,000. Thankfully I have insurance so I only had to pay $3,000 for this visit in which the ultrasound tech couldn’t find my ovaries! This is not our first rodeo with the ER either. Last year my son had appendicitis and it took two ultrasounds and three visits to the ER to confirm was his GP & I already knew. Thankfully we caught it in time. In any case, just be thankful
      you can afford to go to the ER whenever you like! I’m sitting here drinking fluids like mad to avoid having to pay thousands to the crackpots down at one of the supposedly best hospitals here! And btw, I am an extremely fit healthy eater so I have no idea how I got a kidney stone.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks for the info. I was diagnosed with my first stone last week. Only 3mm. Pain for a full with a trip to the ER. I am now pain free since saturday but no stone unless I somehow missed. Was extremely curious why I was pain free and how long it could take hanging out in the bladder if in fact that’s where it was. This info helps!

      • kim says:

        @Chris, I had pain for 2 days on my right side near the lower rib and towards the back, had a CT scan 5 days ago and blood work, CT scan revealed a 3 mm stone–no more pain on side/back but not sure if I passed mine either. Where was your pain located? How are you feeling these days?

    • Parisa says:

      Nic, thank you so much for a very detailed information.

  15. surendra says:

    I had stones in kidney two years ago.I drank water and passed out through urine but its still recurring.Fortunately, it passes out through urine but I am concerned about my kidney. Can anyone give an idea how do I know if stone is still in my kidney? Should I need to consult the doctor?

  16. 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

  17. 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.

    • CeeCee Hagadone says:

      Thank you! I happen to have ACV at home. I’ve in past gotten stones as well just hoping they will pass as i was just in hospital 3 days and they should of checked at least for that issue by ultrasound before i discharged myself being with my history they never can pass on own no matter what the sizes because my urethane tube is way too small and all have been surgically removed. Hoping this trick will help, as i dont want to go back to hosptial and end up with yet another stent! My oh my this pain though…

      • Matt Van Every says:

        I would higly recommend buying a bottle of “Bragg,” apple cider vinegar. It is a bottle you can sometimes find near the pharmacy section of your local supermarket and it will say on the label

        “Bragg Organic-Raw-Unfiltered …. “With The Mother,”

        This is no ordinary apple cider vinegar, and talking about a shot once a week will help to lengthen the time between stones, and when present speed up their expulsion.

        Be careful with this stuff, as it is super potentt. I tried to take a about 1/2 finger of the stuff in something like a highball glass, solo. This is way too much to take without diluting it and it will really upset your stomach. I always would try to take it with food, and it would spoil my appetite.

        Today I mix it with a glass of water, or ideally coconut water.

  18. 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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