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. Annie Rasp says:

    I have a 4.2 mm kidney stone and it was confirmed on 5 April what should I di to overcome thus problem and how I’ll able to know that my kidney stone is expelled

    • Suhas patil says:

      Hi Annie , Stones of size less than 5mm pass on their own without getting known. Drink more water in regular intervals. Take medicines if painful.

    • Ryan says:

      I finally passed my small 2mm stone. I had a crazy amount of pain on march 20th. So it took about 5 weeks to pass. I noticed when it came out too. A constant strong stream, then a small pressure with the stream dissipating then it came out and a strong stream returned. I had pain the first two weeks then the pain came back about once a week until passing it

  2. Sid says:

    My wife has been reported 9mm stone in Kidney and doctor advised to have stent placement and laser surgery performed which resulted in breakage of stones into 2 pieces.
    post surgery, doctor advised to meet come and meet after 21 days for stent removal.
    question is, is the stent removal required or any alternative is available. and also want to know for both stent placement and removal , will the hospital charge twice?

  3. Rum says:

    I have kidney stone of 3mm from past four days and I’m drinking almost four litters of water and fluids every day! Some time I get pain in my lower abdominal as per doctor my stone should be out in three days however again when I went they did CT scan and they told me your stone is still there and u have to drink more water ! Anyone can advise me what more to do ! I’m tired of sick leave from work as I can’t work as per my company if I have this condition! I’m scared as well that will it take long to come out and how will I know if it is out! Pls help

    • adarah says:

      Essiac tea formula available at pharmacy /health shops. within four days of twice a day in felt stone move down then one more day I felt no pain at all. Having it for general tonic and cleanse for next two weeks. Power form also available. Tea cheaper. Prepare according to instructions.

      • adarah says:

        Essiac tea formula available at pharmacy /health shops. within four days of twice a day i felt stone move down then one more day I felt no pain at all. Having it for general tonic and cleanse for next two weeks. Powder form also available. Tea cheaper. Prepare according to instructions. Helpful for many other ailments and health tonic. Hope you recover soooon.

  4. abhilash Kulkarni says:

    I’m having 6.8 mm stone in my ureter near bladder , some times it pains alot but sometimes I won’t feel that I’m suffering from this problem. Most probably I get pain at night around 3am and around 7pm at night , since 6 days I’m suffering with this problem doctor advising me operation is urgency , what shall I do ? Can’t I solve this problem without operation? Is operation is necessary? How can I make the stone move to bladder?

    • Pam says:

      I just had an 8 mm, doctor surgically inserted a stent for 4 days then I had surgery to remove. It was still still half way in the ureter

      • Stacey says:

        Lemon water . . It really works! I thought a friend was crazy when they told me to try it but I have been drinking it for 2 weeks now and all pain is gone and the stone has finally passed . . . It was great to avoid surgery . . For me the stint is worse than the pain of the stone! (Im a repeat offender) Im definitely a believer now!

        • Richard says:

          2 weeks? I’m guessing that time helped more than a few drops of lemon in your water. Most stones clear on their own given enough time, whether you are drinking lemon water, apple juice, or just plain water.

    • lynn miller says:

      Lithotripsy or a stent is the best way to go. Surgery should be a last resort. I had lithotripsy three days ago for a stone that was the size of a candy corn (7mmx10mm). I have a little cramping but the pain meds make it tolerable. Nothing like it was before. There’s still a bit of blood in my urine but it’s better every day. Just be sure to go to a place that specializes in stones to have your procedure. There’s a lot less risk of complications when they do them all day. I was asleep (twilight) so I remember nothing. All in all, it wasn’t a bad experience. Now I have to drink a lot and wash out the fragments. UGH!
      PS~The doctor told me that I should do this every day to keep the stones away and melt the ones still there:
      Peel a lemon and put it in a blender. Add 1 cup of water and several ice cubes along with honey. It tastes like a Rita’s lemon water ice!

      • Tanya says:

        Lithotripsy and uretal/nephrology stents are surgery. They rarely ever have to cut them out. So nobody avoided surgical intervention if you had litho or a stent placement.

  5. Abraham says:

    I was told i have multiple echogenic foci in both kidney measuring 0.44cm in each kidney but only the right kidney is troubling me
    Some time, the pain goes down and back again
    Have been told nt to eat mean things
    I also have a fracture which need to be healled
    Am now going through two pains
    From the fracture and kidney stone. Hmmmmmm what must i do
    Will it kill me?
    Oh my God help me someone

    • AskYourDamnDoctor says:

      Do what your doctor told you to do or ask him/her if you forgot or weren’t paying attention. The internet is about the worst place for seeking medical advice, regardless of the site. Every case of every problem is unique. Now go away and do what I told you.

  6. Abraham says:

    I was told i have multiple echogenic foci in both kidney measuring 0.44cm in each kidney but only the right kidney is troubling me
    Some time, the pain goes down and back again
    Have been tokd nt to each many things
    I also have a fracture which need to be healled
    Am now going through two pains
    From the fracture and kidney stone. Hmmmmmm what must i do
    Will it kill me?
    Oh my God help me someone

  7. Andrew Foster says:

    I found out i had a 3mm kidneystone when i went to the er cause i had right back side pain that night the next morning i peed dark brown so i had got scared went to er nd they did a ct scan nd found the stone on my right kidney so they prescribed me flomax 0.4 mg nd pain pills well after that 3 or 4 weeks later i had a kidney attack where i had a sharp pain i mean it felt like i was dying seriously so a went to er nd found out the kidney stone was stuck in my ureter line but they didnt do a ct scan they just knew cause of my pain it was stopping urine from going down to my bladder nd it was expanding my kidney so they gave me more flomax nd pain meds nd shot me up morphine nd let me go nd ever since then idk if it ever came out or what nd that was in july now we are in December but i havnt felt any pain or having problems urinating once in the blue ill have a stinking when i pee but pain goes away in seconds but know i kind of feel a slight pain in my right kidney so my question is could i have a uti should i go to the er nd tell them that i think i have a uti so they can check or should i just keep living life with no worries? Comments will help me alot nd if yu have any questions for me i will be gladly to answer what i know thank you.

    • Jayce R says:

      Andrew. It sounds like the stone has made its way into your bladder. When I get a stone (which is pretty often), I get an annoying stinging sensation that radiates through my urethra. Generally this tells me that the stone is trying to pass and finally make its way out. Unfortunately, this can be a rather long process. I have had stones stuck in my urethra for several weeks before finally dislodging and coming out. The good news is, it sounds like you’re on the last leg of your painful adventure. Although a UTI is a possibility, the pain and discomfort youre feeling could very well just be symptoms of the stone making its way out. But nobody knows your body like you do. If you fear there might be an infection, I would go get looked at. It never hurts to be sure. Just stay hydrated! Good Luck.

    • Kidney Stoner - 420 says:

      Trying to read Andrew’s post is more painful then the stone that had me at the ER at 3 a.m. last night!

  8. Singj says:

    I went to ER a month ago for kidney stone pain. CT scan proved I have them on both sides. After 4 to 5 hours of iv fluids I was able to pass urine normally and was a great feeling and relief. Today at work pain comes back and I recognize it. Not sure what to do other than lying down and taking pain killers. Feels like going to bathroom but nothing comes. Maybe the stones is stuck. Drinking water with lemon…pain is on the lower right abdominal and also sometimes it pains in the right testical. Any further advice? Is this normal?

    • Mike says:

      Hey mate, need to take pure lemon juice and make sure your fluid intake is mainly water and not much sugary drinks?

      Good luck friend.

    • Jayce R says:

      Odds are, the stone is sitting in your bladder. It will cause you to feel the need to urinate more frequently, even though you pass no urine. It may also cause a stinging sensation that radiates through your urethra as well. Groin and testicular pain is to be expected when the stone makes its way to the bladder. Apply a heating pad directly to the area of most pain. This will significantly dull out the pain to make it more manageable. Hot showers or baths tend to work miracles as well. On a positive note, after the stone reaches the bladder, the hard work is over. Just stay hydrated! The stone will usually pass within a few weeks time. And its not nearly as painful as when the stone moves from the kidney to the bladder. Good luck.

  9. FAF says:

    My stones too like others experience, so far I had passed 10 odd stones some bigger some smaller 4 to 6 mm. My latest experience is horrible, today I have passed 1.2×1.0 cm, until today I was not aware if big stone, yesterday I did ct scan it says 5
    mm in left and 6 mm in right apart from one stone which was stuck in vu junction,
    It was all types if pain until it reached to the bladder, after reaching bladder I was very much worried, consulted doctor for admitting me fir next day earliest procedure, but I feel fortunate that this stone also flushed out. But before flushing out my urine track was almost blocked except few drop I was passing,

    My suggestion to friends do t be panic if you feel stable wait and read various people experience it give confidence thank you.

  10. Romel Lalloo says:

    Need help.

    Son has two kedney stones in the uthera in the left. and 3 small stones in the right kedney.

    Doctor crush stones in the left uthera and stenn te right uthera.

    visited the doctor on monday . doctor says stones moving to the bladder.
    xray do not show and stones in both uthera last monday.

    he is experiencing pains on the left front abdomen lower.
    righi side wher stenn is little pain.

    excessiver fever and dweating during the evening peiod.

    need some help.

    is there medication to help soften the stone .
    currently using bizade and augmentain tablets.

  11. Chris says:

    Same here Andy. Did you pass it?

  12. kheewa brar says:

    hi i have passed biggest stone 0.8 mm 0.7 mm and 06 many 0.5mm 0.4 mm 0.3mm 0.2mm total 50 now doc said 0.9mm stuck in balder. i have problem block urine what i do pls massage to me on email

    • Dave says:

      That’s really a silly question. GO SEE A DOCTOR. then can remove it or soundwave shatter it. If you are in the USA, you can get free healthcare in the marketplace.

    • Jayce R says:

      About 4 years ago while I was in the Navy, I passed a stone that was 7.2 mm!!!
      They said I would require surgery to remove the stone. They gave me Percocet for the pain until the date of my operation. But while I was laying in the barracks one night the stone started to move down my ureter. I was eating percocets like M&Ms (not recommended). After writhing in pain all night I finally passed it. That morning I went the clinic on base and gave the stone to the on call doc. He said there was no way possible that I should have been able to pass a stone that size. Point of the story is, the human body is an incredible machine. It is capable of much more than people think.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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?

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

  18. 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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

    • Carrie says:

      I have the same exact thing going on! Whatever happen with yours? Did you pass it?

    • Darryl says:

      Just passes a 6mm, went thru 4 weeks of hell. When I started feeling weirdness down below I hoped it was near my bladder and it was…passed at 1pm yesterday and if I had not had the strainer, I would not have know it passed, I did not feel it come out at all. Yes the pain is unbearable without medication. But now it has passed and I am having these little cramps or whatever they are in the same area…pretty sure its not more stones cuz I know how that feels now, but still feels weird and I am going to go have my Dr. look again, just to make sure I don’t have an infection. Lots of water and Flomax helped. All I know is if it is unbearable they say to go back to the ER…the pain is not always the stone moving…it backs up the flow of urine and that is the pain, the swelling of all those areas and there are many nerves in there. If you cannot pee it could be clogged.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. 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 ?

  24. 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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