What are Kidney Stones?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

Kidney stones

Ask anyone who’s had a kidney stone what it’s like and they’ll tell you a horrific tale of pain and agony. Kidney stones, which are jagged mineral deposits, form in the kidneys and pass through the urinary tract. Sound awful? It is. While there’s no way to be immune to developing kidney stones, there are steps you can take to discourage their formation. Let’s take a look at what kidney stones are, why they form, and what you can do to reduce your chances for developing them.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

There are a few factors that can cause kidney stones; one of the most common is excess calcium. [1] While calcium is a nutrient your body needs, if you get too much or your body’s processing systems are imbalanced, calcium can accumulate in the kidneys and bind with phosphates and oxalates to develop stones. Other causes of kidney stones include acidic urine, kidney infections, and genetic predisposition. People who’ve had kidney stones before are more likely to have them again. Secondary factors like obesity, dehydration, and medications may also encourage kidney stones to form. [2]

Why Are Stones Painful?

Sometimes compared to childbirth, kidney stones can be one of life’s most painful experiences. The level of discomfort is proportionate to the size of the stone. Small stones may form and pass through the urinary tract almost without notice. Larger stones, however, are a different story. With a shape like jagged, broken glass, every fraction of a millimeter they pass through the urinary tract can be excruciating.

How Are Kidney Stones Diagnosed?

Back pain, pain while urinating, and blood in the urine are some of the more obvious indications of kidney stones. There are formal tests that can assist in a precise determination, however.

  • Urinalysis – Fairly simple and non-invasive, a urine sample can detect an infection or substances linked to stone formation.
  • Blood Test – Analyzes blood levels of calcium, uric acid, electrolytes, and phosphorus and can detect imbalances that coincide with stone formation. May also provide information on kidney function.
  • Imaging – Quite a bit more invasive, but x-rays and CT scans can detect the location and size of a stone, and sometimes the cause for its formation.

Getting Rid of Kidney Stones

Although painful, most stones pass on their own. Some, however, need help. There are a number of home remedies for discouraging kidney stones and several hospital-level procedures. One effective solution, known as shockwave therapy, has become very popular. It’s a process in which targeted shockwaves are sent through the body to break up the stones into smaller pieces that pass easier. Interesting side note — using an inversion table is an excellent complement to shockwave therapy.

During another procedure known as a ureteroscopy, a long tube-like tool is inserted through the urethra to break the stones into tiny particles — it’s as fun as you might imagine.

Finally, surgery is an option but typically reserved for the most severe cases. During surgery, a urologist inserts a small tool through an incision in the back to remove the stone.

Can Kidney Stones Be Prevented?

There’s no sure fire way to prevent kidney stones but there are a few strategies that promote normal function of the kidneys. Maintaining a healthy weight and staying hydrated need to be everyone’s foundation. Kidney cleansing, lemon juice, and eating foods that support the kidneys are also a good idea. Additionally, foods high in betaine, a chemical compound found in seafood, quinoa, spinach, and beets, can help fight kidney stones by balancing urine pH. [3]

Although kidney stones contain calcium, calcium in the urine is influenced by other factors, including sodium, potassium, and vitamin D intake. It may be, but it’s not necessarily the result of consuming too much dietary calcium. [4] Still, if kidney stones are a recurring problem for you, examining your calcium intake is appropriate.

Have you suffered from kidney stones? What did you find to be the most important strategy for combating your condition? Leave a comment and let us know!


  1. Coe FL, Evan A, Worcester E. Kidney stone disease. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. 2005 October;115(10):2598-608.
  2. Malvinder S Parmar. Kidney stones. BMJ: British Medical Journal. June 12, 2005; 328(7453): 1420-1424.
  3. Frassetto L, Kohlstadt I. Treatment and prevention of kidney stones: an update. American Family Physician. 2011 December 1;84(11):1234-42.
  4. Trinchieri A. Diet and renal stone formation. Minerva Medica. 2013 February;104(1):41-54.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • psw003 .

    kidney stones are usually caused by low calcium intake and/or high oxalate intake. The less common calcium phosphate stones are caused by excessively alkaline urine. The idea of kidney stones caused by high calcium intake has been largely discredited.

  • dan

    Jack Daniels for the discomfort and pain….also helps with extra voiding attempts….imho

  • sharank251

    I had two attacks. I combat another attack by drinking 8-8 oz glasses of purified water a day. One a week I have a glass of water with a capful of Apple Cider Vinegar.

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  • Bob Smith

    I think mine were cause by coral calcium supplements. Doctor wanted to operate and I searched the Internet and made a concoction of a 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice with a 1/4 cup of olive oil. Mix well and drink it all up, followed with a full glass of filtered water. Mine were cured after doing this two or three times. Pain went away almost instantly.

  • Mister Renal

    Ladies & gentlemen, it’s easy to get rid of kidney stones. Search for “Kalkurenal” made in Germany and “Chanca piedra” from South America. Very cheap, works quickly. In 6 weeks or so, even a large stone will disappear. Also, no need for X-rays or a CT or MRI. Just a noninvasive abdominal ultrasound, quite cheap. Also, drink 5 liters of water per day. And search online for the lemon juice, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar recipes. No need to spend thousands at your MD. Good luck

  • Adam Kaloostian

    If for some reason you stumbled across this article and you are saying eh who cares I haven’t had these stones before, listen friend do whatever you can for kidney health because let me tell you the stones are the most inconceivable unimaginable godless pain it brings a man to his knees in sheer horror and desperation. Believe you me, I went through it high on the happy pills and drunk, no matter

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