Kidney stone treatment options are determined mainly by the size, type and location of the stone. The patient's age and medical status are also considered.
Although most kidney stones are small enough to pass out on their own, some enlarged stones become lodged in the urinary tract and can cause tremendous pain and discomfort.
They can even result in kidney damage, which can eventually lead to kidney failure.
It is, therefore, important for patients with stones that are stuck in the urinary tract to seek prompt treatment to remove kidney stones, before they cause any significant damage.
Thankfully, the majority of kidney stones are small enough to pass out in the urine, without any medical intervention. Many people with kidney stones never even know that they have them.
Stones that are too larger to pass out on their own get stuck in the urinary tract and require some form of treatment in order to remove or dislodge them.
Treatment of kidney stones focuses either on prevention of kidney stones or removal of kidney stones from the urinary tract. Specific kidney stone treatment depends on the size of the stone, the type of stone, the amount of obstruction it is causing and other related and non-related conditions, which may be affecting a patient. There are conventional as well as alternative treatments for kidney stones.
One of the most basic forms of treating kidney stones is to focus on the patient's diet. With some patients, certain types of food can contribute to kidney stones formation, while other foods help to stop the further development of kidney stones. Kidney stones have a good chance of passing out of the urinary tract, once they do not become so enlarged that they significantly or completely block the urinary tract.
A suitable kidney stone diet can play an important part in helping to prevent enlargement of existing kidney stones, and also prevent recurrences.
Patients should consult a registered dietitian to help them formulate a diet that is suitable to their particular circumstances.
Patients with kidney stones are encouraged to drink lots of fluids, especially water. A lack of fluids increases the concentration of minerals in the kidneys, which can result in the formation of kidney stones. Even patients with kidney stones are encouraged to drink 2 to 3 quarts (8 to 12 glasses) of water on a daily basis.
Water dilutes the urine and helps to prevent the concentration of minerals and salts that can form kidney stones. It also increases urine production, which helps to remove kidney stones from the urinary tract.
Increasing water consumption is a basic but fundamental kidney stone treatment. It is a simple but very effective means that can help to dislodge and remove kidney stones, as well as prevent their recurrence.
Passing kidney stones can be extremely painful, depending on the size of the stone. In fact, in its most extreme stage, the pain caused by kidney stones is considered to be one of the most intense, of all pains. It therefore becomes necessary for patients to receive pain medication
treatment, to help alleviate the pain. Without pain medication, the pain caused by kidney stones can be almost unbearable.
A physician normally prescribes some form of pain medication such as morphine, to bring relief to the patient.
When kidney stones are not able to pass out of the urinary tract on their own, surgery may become necessary. Surgery is usually reserved until other kidney stone treatments fail or the stone is creating serious problems, such as significant obstruction, heavy bleeding, infection, or unbearable pain which cannot be otherwise treated.
There are several surgical alternatives. In the past, open surgery (cutting the patient) was commonly used to remove kidney stones. Thanks to modern medical advancements, this surgical technique is not used as much.
Other methods of kidney stone surgery includes inserting a tube into the bladder and up into the ureter. A tiny basket is then passed through the tube, which the surgeon uses to pull the stone out.
Current methods allow the stone to be crushed by shock waves. This method is known as lithotripsy. Lithotripsy is a non-invasive procedure that uses shock waves to break-up kidney stones, making it easier for the smaller fragments to pass out of the urinary tract. With lithotripsy, shock waves are aimed at the stone, from outside the body using specialized equipment. These shock waves help to break-up the stone into smaller fragments, which can then pass out on their own or may be surgically removed.
Compared to traditional open surgery, other current methods (such as lithotripsy) significantly reduce the recovery time of patients.
Within recent years, more patients have been exploring alternative treatment options for prevention and removal of kidney stones. There are several alternative treatment options for helping to relieve pain caused by kidney stones and for also helping to prevent and remove kidney stones from the urinary tract. Some alternative treatments include the following:
Herbal medicines are used as alternative kidney stone treatment. This form of treatment has generated significant interest within recent times and in some cases, they have proven to be effective in treating some kidney stones.
Patients should, however, do some research before embarking on a course of herbal treatment. Seek the advice of a competent qualified Naturopath (doctor who deals with natural medicines).
Homeopathy is another alternative treatment option used to help treat kidney stones patients. Homeopathy is a blend of natural science and medical science to treat medical conditions, including kidney stones.
Again, the importance of consulting a qualified and knowledgeable Naturopath cannot be overemphasized.
Acupressure is used mainly to alleviate pains associated with kidney stones. It involves pressuring the body at certain points, to relieve pain.
Acupuncture is another alternative treatment for relieving pain, caused by kidney stones. It is a traditional Chinese treatment that involves the insertion of fine needles at various points beneath the skin.
Supplementation can also be considered an alternative kidney stone treatment option. It involves the use of supplements of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, to help prevent and remove kidney stones. Supplements are especially helpful when a patient is deficient in vital nutrients or is unable to obtain the necessary nutrients for their diet.
Supplements are normally used in conjunction with other forms of kidney stone treatments.
For example, supplements of magnesium can help to alleviate pain and help the stone to pass out of the body. Magnesium is a smooth muscle relaxant, which can help kidney stones to pass through the ureter and bladder.
Ultimately, the specific kidney stone treatment or treatments used by a patient depends on the type of kidney stone, the size of the stone, as well as the patient's personal preference and his/ her physician's recommendations. It is always advisable to take some time to properly research different treatment options and seek the advice of a competent physician, who can recommend the most effective kidney stone treatment.