Letting a kidney stone pass

Many kidney stones will pass spontaneously and will not require surgical treatment. Whether a stone can pass successfully primarily depends on the size of the stone. Based on several studies of stone patients, a size criteria of 5mm  or less (about 0.2 inches) is generally felt to predict a reasonable chance (50-70%) for spontaneous passage.

The location of a kidney stone when it is diagnosed also is predictive of likely success at spontaneous passage. Stones that are more distal (closer to the bladder) are more likely to pass than stones that are more proximal (closer to the kidneys).

The decision to allow a stone to pass spontaneously will also take in account the amount of pain you are experiencing, your medical health, the possibility of infection, and other factors. Typically, a period of 4-6 weeks is allowed to give stones a chance to pass.

Medications to help pass kidney stones are now more commonly being given to patients experiencing an active stone episode. These medications can improve the chances of successful passage of a stone, decrease the pain associated with a stone episode, and decrease the time required for passage.

134 Responses to Letting a kidney stone pass

  1. Nena says:

    I’ve been dealing with Kidney stones for about 15 years. There are some years that I’ve had 5-6 of those bastards. As far as I’m concerned it’s the most painful condition ever. But I’m sure you all know that. I went to a walk in clinic on 9/1 I was given Percocet and antibiotics. I did have relief for a few days and then it was 4 days of constant unsubsiding pain the Percocet didn’t even dull the pain. I couldn’t eat, I barely drank anything, all I did was throw up. So I went to my pcp who is also a nephrologist and he sent me for a CT scan. I just got the results back I have a total of 4 stones on my left side 2-3mm each, but there is also a 7mm. So I’m going to have to have the surgery yet once again (I already had it done twice for a 14mm stone and a 9mm stone) I just wanted to let people know to ask your dr’s for Flomax. I’ve been treated with flomax before and it really helps. I’ve passed the stone fairly quickly using this.Basically what it does is relaxes the muscles in the urinary track to help pass the stone and or break it up a bit. However I don’t believe it works with larger stones, even though I’m taking it now just in hopes I’ll pass it. Wishful thinking lol! Good luck to anyone going through this now.

  2. Rob says:

    The CT scan showed a small kidney stone in my ureter right below the kidney. The doctor put me on Flomax. I had very dark urine almost brown in color couple of days ago. After chugging the water religiously the last few days the urine has cleared up a bit . But I noticed the urine started to get the reddish color again last night. My question is, is this normal for the urine to go from bad to good to bad while waiting for the stone to pass.

  3. Christine Yellowitz says:

    I have my first kidney stone. My husband had to take me to the ER because the pain was so severe in my back, side and stomach it felt like a knife going straight through. Nothing I did would ease the pain. At the ER they took tons of blood and did a CT scan before giving me morphine and something else. While in the ER I for 3 doses of morphine which was appreciated greatly, the pain relief was fast thankfully. They said i have a 3mm kidney stone. My problem is I also have severe Crohn’s disease so I am a little scared. They said it was at the opening and should pass. They sent me home with OxyCodone and 600 MG Ibuprofen said to drink lots of water and stay ahead of the pain meaning take the meds even if no pain which I have been doing but now I have pain in the vaginally area where urine comes out and sleep all the time and getting pain on the other side. How will I know when it passes?
    Help please

    • Nena says:

      I hope you are feeling better now and looking at the date you posted this on you probably have already passed your stone. I hope you never have to go through it again. But if you ever do ask your physician for Flomax it really helped me with past kidney stones. When I pass my stones I feel a small I pop when I’m urinaring. You can also ask the dr for screens. They are little funnel like things with a screen at the bottom. When you use the bathroom you urinate into it and can catch the stone. Hope this helps a bit.

  4. CheriShep says:

    I had two 4mm stones 3 years ago during the Christmas Holidays. That was my first experience with them. My back began hurting with the most severe pain I had ever felt. It went around my groin area to my abdomen. I screamed in agony. My husband took me to the ER. That is when one stone in my right ureter was diagnosed. They gave me a pain shot, some Flo-Max and sent me home. 2 days later, I was back at the ER in more pain than before. Another stone from the left kidney had moved, blocking my ureter. More Narcotics were prescribed and more Flo-Max. The doctor said to drink Lemonaid. I did and lot’s of it. The stones passed within a couple of days. Fast foward to this past Tuesday. The excruciating back pain returned but this time with nausea and vomiting. I went straight to the ER as I was never given an Urologist. A CT scan revealed 5 Stones. A 3.5mm stone is stuck in the left ureter and not moving. It is causing urine to backflow in to my kidney and in to my pelvis as well. The CT scan has all of the Technical terms. I have a 4mm stone in my right kidney high up and 3, 1mm to 2.5mm stones in the lower area of my left kidney. They are Calcium Oxalate stones. I have not passed any yet and hurt like crazy. I have RA and have pain meds for that Thank Goodness! But when these things move, these strong narcotics don’t touch that pain!

  5. David says:

    Went to ER 6 weeks ago with the worst pain I’d ever had. Originally, I was told the stone was 6 mm. I was given the option of going home and seeing the Urologist in four weeks or have a procedure done that I’d never even heard of at that point. At the time, the stone had just exited the kidney into the ureter. Since I was given almost NO information about what to expect or what my options were, I decided to go home and do some study on my own. I felt just occasional discomfort while at home and did a lot of research. Don’t be afraid to study your options and what to expect. It’s better than being surprised. After four weeks I had an x-ray that showed my stone was 9 mm and had little chance of passing on it’s own. I had the ureteroscopy done with a stent put in. The three days after the procedure are rough with pain, need to urinate every 20 minutes, blood in the urine, etc. Take your pain meds and here is a important tip: Get a couple of bed buddies from Walgreens. You put them in the microwave for a couple minutes and the heat really helps the pain. After a week, I had to remove the stent myself via a string that was hanging out. It’s not fun, but it lasts only about 20 seconds while you slowly pull the stent out. You’ll have some serious pain about four hours after but it subsides after that. I know I prayed a lot and would never discourage that. I would say “this too will pass” but none of us want to hear that!

  6. Janan says:

    Today i have been diagnosed with altra sound with two stones 7.7mm in left ureter and 7.3 in left kidney wall. Its all started with burning while urinating. My doctor said its very strange that i have not much pain with these pains. Damn since i left the clinic got a severe pain in the lower back side and also start facing blockage while urinating.

  7. Barb says:

    Have had Kidney stones before .Have had Blood in my urine for a week ..Dr said a bad infection .Two lots of Meds still the same .Have anyone had this …My family Dr says it’s stones again waiting for a report ..Thank you for listenibg

    • Lisa says:

      Did you get a CT scan. That is how they found mine. Try drinking lemon juice every day. Just squeeze lemons no water and drink it. Also a heating pad for pain helps.

  8. Brenda says:

    Just got home from hospital, 4th time in 2 years with Kidney stones, this time was the worst total of 4 stones ranging in size 6mm to 9mm 2 in each Kidney, as with all my stones treatment is lipstripsy, this is where they blast stones with laser to break them up, and the put a stint in to open up the uretha to help smaller particles pass, they also give me Flomax to help flush my kidneys out and go pee more often. This usually works but I know in 6 months I’ll have more, the pain I feel I try and explain to my family but its not easy to explain, the pain is almost mind blowing, for me they are due to being diebetic and over weight, and of course not eating right, I’m working on the weight loss and eating right, the diabetes maybe beyond my control. My urologist has told me kidney stones are more frequent in women than men, and most women have calcium stones, mine are uric acid stones. Kidney stones are very painful and I don’t wish them on anyone if your having pain in your lower back and if it feels like pressure to pee go to emergency room immediately.

  9. Julie says:

    Ok wow, I am officially freaked out and amazed at the same time having read through this site and some of the history of contributors. I’ve had 2 surgeries, one in my 20’s most memorable due to being misdiagnosed for months then i lost respiratory for 15 min during surgery, so wanting the pain to be history only finding the 2 weeks with the telephone cord (stint) was even worse. Next surgery in 2013 in my 40’s, no stint thank god, but post surgery imaging showed my kidneys were loaded with rocks. They said since they were not obstructing they just left them. Well it’s as if they are trying to create a superbug, I cannot not have a UTI ! That stent placed when I was young did something to my pain receptors down there because the urgency to pee symptom only returns when I’m passing a stone. I can tell I have a UTI 2 ways, one is the smell of my urine, second is extreme fatigue. I have been wrong one time. It was a sinus infection. It amazes me how stuck to protocol medical people are. I cannot seek employment because I’m always sick. Well I have blockage due to a stone and the UTI is in there doing push-ups. I’m now on antibiotic #5! I wonder has anyone looked into therapys of the Chinese medicine and the meridians ? Imbalances as a whole are addressed not just physically. I am so not having another stint!! Thanks for that reminder. Things that help me- Dmannose, fluid intake (I swear I am never thirsty), braggs ACV olive oil and lemon juice have all been helpful, it is my ADHD and inability to establish regimen that is my downfall.

    • Jeff Dietz says:

      You should also look into an herb called stonebreaker or chanca piedra, which breaks up most stones within 2 days no matter where in the urinary tract they are. 400mg 2 times/day if in the kidney, 1 time/day if in ureter,bladder, or urethra. Also, take enough DMannose powder because this stuff is a miracle in itself, it forms a soft gel-like coating around the stones so it does not rip up your urinary tract on the way down. I have a 5 millimeter 2 cm away from bladder in ureter, my doctor was amazed that i have no blood in my urine and i am peeing crystal clear. I am still taking hydrocodone/ibuprofen for pain and flomax to create peristalsis effect in my ureter, to help push it down. It is moving without complication. Just read about stone breaker, just took first dose. Have another 5 mm one in my kidney which am trying to dissolve with stone breaker, will update you with outcome.

  10. Laura St. Amand says:

    I have been in and out of the hospital since February with pain in my kidney at the beginning of April one doctor finally told me that I have 3 7mm kidney stones. I went to my family doctor shortly after that to see what she could do about it and she told me they should pass within 4-6 weeks. We are now in June and I am still having sever pain I took the prescription she gave me and have been drinking Lemmon juice and olive oil since April and I am still in discomfort. Should I still be having pain after 2 months?

    • Julie says:

      Oh heck go see a urologist!! 7mm is too big. A clogged kidney is not good for u although yr insurance won’t divulge this. Get into action. Pain for that long is not at all. Good luck

    • MOHD UBAID says:

      Drink beer it will be really helpful…. If you have any deep question you can e mail me.. My mail id is m.ubaid@live.com this is not joke i have just removed my 11 mm stone thru urine last

  11. niraj says:

    i pass 10 mm stone.aftter having in right kidney. i take lemin juice two to three times daily and ceystone tablet and also cital syrup twice in daily.after 20 days stone goes in urethral.suddenly my urine pressure is slow and paining.than i having lemon and olive oil mixer 5-6 days and also lemon juice twice in daily. surpsingly my stone pass by urine.good luck

  12. Sarah says:

    Hi everyone, just so interested to read all your comments! I’m being investigated for kidney stones at the moment and it’s freaking me out a little because I’ve never had them before!

    In March I had a laparoscopy and they found that I have Hypervascular ovary/pelvic congestion syndrome. This leaves me in quite a lot of pain on a regular basis. Last year I started getting pains in my lower back, but thought it was to do with my condition. After my op I got a urine infection, closely followed by a more intense pain in my kidney area on the left side. It seems to come in waves and occasionally I can feel stabs in my left abdomen. The doctor took a urine sample which showed that the infection was gone, but it was still showing blood.

    I am pretty convinced I have a stone now, even though I am worrying it could be something else! My doctor seems to think the same as I’ve been referred to a urologist.

    At the moment the pain isn’t what I would call particularly bad, but when it comes on it’s enough to make me have to sit or lie down and I generally feel really tired and weak. I’ve heard it can be extremely excruciating though, so I’m not really looking forward to finding that out for myself!!

    It’s amazing how many people have this. I will try some of the remedies you recommended and see if this makes a difference whilst I wait for my hospital letter.

  13. Val says:

    My daughter is 11 and has a 7mm kidney stone. It causes her pain and to run to the toilet a lot even when she has nothing to wee!!! She has to wait until mid August for her first hospital appointment! She is having several wet bed because of it too! She is really fed-up, and I am too poor kid! We are going abroad soon and I am worried the stone might move while we are there!!

    • niraj says:

      give her lemon juice and olive oil mixture twice in daily.

      • Dakik Ahmed says:

        Hi Niraj,

        Could u please elaborate the olive oil mixture. Do we need to mix with lemon juice or water. Coj me to experiencing kidney stone

      • Jay says:

        well, I know olive oil. but what is olive oil mixture? what do we mix with olive oil?

    • Lisa says:

      There is no way your daughter can wait until August! She is in excruciating pain and needs to be given high doses of pain medication fast. I have had it for two weeks and a child would just not be able to handle it with out meds. I am in my room screaming and I am 37 years old. Please please go take her to the hospital. I have a 7mm stone and need surgery to remove cause it won’t pass on it’s own. Squeeze 6 lemons and have her drink the juice. Don’t add water just juice. Do Not take her abroad. The pain will come and go but it will come with a vengeance. I am in full panic for you. Get her pain help now!

  14. Muhammad Ali says:

    I have stone in my ureter 7mm kindly give me suggestion to pass stone through urine muhammad ali

    • Devarajan.s.v says:

      I devarajan from chennai my good suggestion is please go to a good urologist because there is less possible to be passed away 7mm stone in from ureter.
      I had two stone sized 7mm and 8mm i advised to take medicine for a two weeks but which is not passed away finally my doctor took a decision for operation because if we wait until stone released there is possible of failure of kidney function.

    • Srinivas says:

      I have been diagnosed with kidney stones ,one in left VU junction of 7mm and other one in left lower pole calyx of 4mm.Doctor prescribed K-CIT syrup for one week and asked me to consult after one week..I was suggested..if stone is not passed in urine I may have to undergo lithotripsy..I worried like anything and started drinking more water frequently and started taking the syrup twice a daily..(also I ate watermelons and cucumber)..add to my luck on 4th day I passed a stone in urine ..

      I suggest all that pls don’t be panic abt kidney stones these are common nowadays because of food we are consuming (urea n NPK being used more in agricultural products these days ).
      I got the moral strength when I got to know about the ppl who are suffering from kidney stones which are in size >12mm.

      Dont Drink more water at once ‘eat more water’ frequently

      Eat fresh fruits like watermelons which will help to flush out the stones

      You can drink coriander juice or cucumber juice

      Like others suggested ..try lemon and olive oil mixture parallelly

      Avoid all junk food during medication

      I wish you all the best 😃

  15. Katrina says:

    I get kidney stones all the time. For kidney stone pain I drink a shot glass half full of lemon juice and half full of Virgin Olive oil. Repeat 5 to 6 times until the pain is gone. Apple cider vinegar with the mother on the label not the fake one can dissolve smaller ones with 1/2 a teaspoon. Horsetail herb tea or cornsilk tea is also good to help dissolve the smaller stones and as a kidney & bladder tonic. Cranberry juice helps to wash out the smaller particles without infection.

  16. Mahesh says:

    I am also going through this situation. Drinking lot of water Sodas coconut water. Will see doctor tomorrow with CT Scan as ultrasound could not detect it. Will see what do after I meet the doctor. Somebody suggested take Culcury Homeopathy syrip. Will be in touch until I get rid of it

  17. For kidney stones that do not pass on their own, a procedure called lithotripsy is often used. In this procedure, shock waves are used to break up a large stone into smaller pieces that can then pass through the urinary system.

  18. Scott M. says:

    I have been in pain, discomfort, and urinating blood on and off for a month and a half. Early on I had an ultrasound that showed nothing so i was sent home with some antibiotics in case it was a UTI. Then a week or two after that i had a horrible burning sensation in my pelvic area and went to the Dr again. He said he thought it might be a hernia, so we scheduled a CT scan for a few days later. Finally a few days ago i started urinating ALOT of blood and i felt horrible (two days before scheduled CT scan) and went to the ER. They did a CT scan there and finally found that i had 2 kidney stones. One about 5 mm in my right pelvis and one about 8 mm in my left kidney. I have an appointment with the urologist today to see about getting them broken up so i can pass them. I can’t take much more of this as the worst part is i feel like i have to urinate every second. Even when I go i still have the feeling of urgency. Even if there’s no urine in my bladder or not.

    • Rachel says:

      It’s the worst !! I’m dealing with it right now !
      I had the same symptoms as you and went to Emergency and was faster for 3 days before they operate and put a stent in my kidney. They haven’t even touched the stone and said I may have to wait up to two months ! I can’t handle the pain. It’s excruciating and I have barely made it out of bed. I can’t go back to work and I’m literally stuck as to what to do !!

      • Tori says:

        Just to help you all out. Go to Walgreens and get AZO as it numbs the urinary tract and pain wil be gone. I work at a hospital and have 3 stones right now and was told this and it works in 20 min I have no pain. I went from throwing up, sweating to nothing and it’s over the counter. These hospitals want to throw these drugs at you when there is a simple fix. It turns your pee orange but who cares

      • Lisa says:

        I was given 3 different narcotics. Did they give you anything for the pain. Also I am doing lemon juice. Squeeze about 15 lemons and drink it every day. No water just straight juice. A heating pad or of you can get a heavy rice bag to put in the microwave works good. Pressure actually helps to. My husband literally pressed his two hands on my stomach and shook me and it really did help. Complete opposite of what makes sense but it did help. My doctor even said try ibuprofen. He said it sounds like a baby medication for such a huge pain but it works.

  19. Lorna Barrett says:

    I have my first stone stuck in the distal left ureter, it’s been there since January 5th. I’m still waiting for treatment, and the hospital sent my urology appointment through for April 26th! I’ve been to the A&E dept twice and in pain most days but nothing is being done. I’m not very optimistic and just wish I could get this over and done with.

  20. Donna Gray says:

    I have a 3 cm stone – do I need to go to the hospital? I was told this morning that is what is causing this horrible pain. So far I was told a urologist was going to see me on an emergent basis, but the doctor said if the pain is really bad to go to the er for treatment. This is my first time. I also have a smaller stone in my left kidney. Please help me with a decision. Thank you.

  21. TERESA BAZYK says:

    I had back pain for months. Did the V A’s “alternative pain management” program for 6 months; meditation, yoga & acupuncture. Pain was getting worse. Went to ER 3 times in JAN, was admitted on 26 JAN with 2cm stone in left kidney, 1.2 cm in right. I had almost no kidney function in right kidney. On 27th went to surgery. Whatever they did worked. Right kidney now functioning. So I wasn’t “abusing the ER” since JUL. Not a “habitual” ER user. Sorry for long post. Just so tired. I have never slept so much in my life. Guess it’ll take time to get healthy again.

  22. Kim B says:

    I was in an extreme amount of pain while my stone was traveling. Not just pain, but an over all feeling of fatigue and weakness. I was hospitalized for three days, and given medication and pain pills. I’ve just passed two stones today, one was a .5 and the other was small and rectangular. I’m just wondering if I’ll feel any better, I’ve still got 4 stones in each of my kidneys. Anyone experience anything similar to my situation? I’m hoping the pain, nausea and overall feeling like crap will subside, at least until it’s time to pass the next one.

  23. Brent says:

    I have a 7mm stone in my kidney and it’s been stuck in same place since Christmas ! Anyway I am having lipotripsy ths Tuesday and I’m hoping and praying it want hurt passing the smaller stones that they bust frm the 7mm ! Has anyone experience ths ?

    • Sherry weaver says:

      I have been in pain since 19 of January, first I was diagnosed with kidney infection. I took antibiotics for 10 days. I did not fill any better so I went back to the doctor on 5 Feb l was told I have a kidney stone and would be referred to a urologist, after three days still did not have an appointment. They on Tuesday morning about two hours after getting off work I went to the bathroom, afterwords I was in extrem pain, so my husband took me to the emergency room. They gave me pain meds took some more X-ray then sent me home with meds and an appointment to see the urologist finally. That’s when I found out that I have 3 three stones two on the right and one on the left. The one causing all the pain is 9.5 mm and the reason the pain got worse is that it move, I was also told I would not pass on its own its to big so now I am schedule for outpatient surgery on Monday. To have a shunt put in and the stone removed, the will use shock wave to brake up the other one in the riight kidney. They can only monitor the one on the left because it’s to small for shock wave treatment. We can pray for each other for speedy recover. I hope it helps a little knowing that some understand what you are going through .

    • Audrey brookes says:

      Dear Brent, Hi!
      I have just undergone surgery for a 10 mm stone which was stuck in my urether. The doctor had earlier inserted a stentin me which caused me no pain in the entire month…but an uncomfortable urine flow ans urinary track infections was the complications to the stubborn stone not getting washed out inspite of my drinking water continously and being on antibiotics…eventually a few days back i had the surgery and it was removed by lipotripsy (lazer) in fragments and I feel a lot better.its the width of the stone and how awkwardly it is lodged that makes it difficult to pass out…I did not delay because I needed to avoid the stress of complications like a stressed kidney or urether or UTI bleeding etc….your doctor will advise you accordingly…but a stent is a wonderful relief…no pain at all! Best of luck and all the best!

    • Kristine callaway says:

      I have a 7 mm now can you tell me it’s the same as yours is it possible to pee it out Iam a 50 year old woman and have had five children dose
      It hurt more
      Then that

  24. tracey says:

    Hi I have been getting stones every 6 months getting blasted pain free for 3 months than all over again I don’t seem to pass them so need blasting but at moment I need to go toilet every 5 min not an infection as its like straight water when I pee there was one in lower pole but I’m thing its trying to pass its 7mm

    • tracey says:

      Also the pressure feels like giving birth or stuck not sure what to do

      • Marion says:

        Hi Tracy,
        I have a 6mm stuck in my lower ureter and I feel that pressure too with pain.i have had this stone stuck there for 6 months and my urologist is still waiting for it to pass….I cannot take much more and so not know what to do…I drink plenty of water and some with freshly squeezed lemon juice that actually stops the pain as I do not like taking painkillers.let me know if you pass yours,it will give me some hope!

        • dave says:

          I have an 8 mm stone and experts told me that it would not pass. I have been drinking chinese radish juice for 5 days and drinking warm water with apple cider vinegar and bicarb with olive oil. Just had another xray today and it is half way down.

          • Buck says:

            I’ve had kidney stones before but this one was different. My back ached some but the discomfort was coming from my ovaries or so I thought. After a visit to my OBGYN and an x-ray, a 7mm + stone was found to be the culprit. The x/Ray wasn’t good enough to get an appointment with a urologist, I had to have a scan for “proof”. This was at the end of September. I have had lithotripsy twice and was told after the second one that it was finally gone. WRONG! It has now moved to my bladder, I don’t have a complete blockage but I can tell that my kidney is not functioning properly. I’ve gained 30lbs since November and feel sluggish and tired. I have surgery scheduled for next week. Praying that this time they get the complete stone and that no damage has been done.

  25. ANIL SWAMI says:

    before 15 days i diagnosed and found 6 x 5 stone in my right ureter. Dr told don’t worry increase fluid and it will pass its own. Still i am waiting, also taking cystone, stonvil , hopefully it will work.

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