Renal Colic: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

What we call renal colic is severe pain in the lower back and sides. This pain is most often on one side, but there are cases where both sides hurt. The pain can start quickly, come and go, and get worse over time. You can find more information below.

What is renal colic, what does it mean?

Renal colic is a type of pain caused by kidney stones, seen in the lower back and sides (in the kidney area). Kidney stones are crystalline particles formed from chemicals in the urine. Kidney stones are caused by having too many chemicals in the urine. A kidney stone can block the flow of urine and in some cases cause pain.

Although kidney stones occur in many people, they are most common in men between the ages of 20 and 30. Kidney stones are very diverse, but they are the most common calcium stones and in some cases there may be more than one. However, with treatment, the symptoms of kidney stones can often be managed effectively without complications.

Symptoms of renal colic include pain in the flanks, abdominal pain , back pain , groin pain , blood in the urine, different colored urine, fever, chills, nausea and vomiting. Some have described this illness as the most intensely painful experience in life. The tendency to form kidney stones may occur due to intestinal disease, surgery, genetics, certain dietary factors or diseases such as cystinuria .

Treatment of kidney stones and renal colic depends on the type and size of the stones. Small stones can be thrown on their own, especially if you drink a lot of water. Pain relievers may also be prescribed by your doctor to manage the pain of kidney stones. Depending on the chemical makeup of the kidney stone, your doctor may prescribe various medications. In very severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the stone.

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How does renal colic happen?

Renal colic occurs when a stone is placed in your urinary tract, usually a ureter. The stone lengthens and enlarges the area, causing severe pain. According to the research, 12 percent of men and 6 percent of women will have one or more grandparents in their lifetime. In our modern life, this rate is increasing due to changes in eating habits and lifestyle.

What causes renal colic?

Renal colic is triggered by the buildup of crystals or stones in the kidneys. When these stones interfere with the flow of urine, they can cause the kidneys to swell, producing waves of pain (colic). Kidney stones can occur for a variety of reasons.

Causes of kidney stone

Kidney stones that cause renal colic can be made up of various chemicals and can be caused by:

  • Chemotherapy (cancer treatment)
  • Cystinuria (inherited disorder characterized by excess cystine in the urine)
  • small bowel disease
  • Gout (a type of arthritis caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joints)
  • Hypercalciuria (excessive calcium in the urine)
  • Hyperuricosuria (excess uric acid in the urine)
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases ( such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis )
  • kidney problems
  • surgical operation
  • Urinary tract infection

Who is at risk?

A number of factors increase your risk of developing renal colic, but not everyone with risk factors will develop the condition. Risk factors include:

  • Dehydration of the body
  • Eating habits high in vitamin D
  • Excessive use of diuretics
  • Having kidney stones in the family
  • Having intestinal diseases
  • Having kidney stones in the past
  • Pregnancy
  • having surgery in the past
  • having a urinary tract infection
  • Use of calcium-based antacids
  • Use of certain drugs

reduce risk

You can reduce your risk of developing kidney stones and renal colic by:

  • avoiding calcium used in pill form
  • avoiding certain foods high in oxalate, such as spinach
  • avoiding excessive meat, fish and poultry
  • Drinking enough fluids, especially water, to prevent thirst

What are the symptoms of renal colic?

The symptoms of renal colic are related to the formation of crystals in the kidneys. These stones can cause pain, swelling and infection by blocking the urine output.

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common symptoms

You may experience symptoms of the disease daily or only occasionally. You may also severely experience any of the following symptoms:

  • abnormally colored urine
  • Fever (sometimes accompanied by chills)
  • foul-smelling urine
  • Nausea (sometimes vomiting)
  • Pain in the side, back, abdomen, or groin, which may be severe

serious symptoms

In some cases, renal colic can be a serious condition that needs immediate and immediate evaluation. Get medical help right away if you or anyone has any of the following serious symptoms :

  • High fever
  • inability to urinate
  • feeling severe pain
  • uncontrollable vomiting

How is renal colic diagnosed?

Blood and urine tests will show infection or your kidney function. An X-ray , ultrasound, computed tomography scan, or magnetic resonance imaging (matrix) can show kidney stones or other causes of your pain. You may be given contrast fluid to make your urinary tract look better in pictures. You should not enter the scan room with anything metal, as metal can cause serious injury. You should definitely tell your doctor if there is any metal in or on your body.

How is renal colic treated?

Treatment of renal colic and kidney stones includes reducing pain and breaking up the stones. In some cases, kidney stones may pass on their own, allowing symptoms to resolve. However, recurrence of kidney stones is common. Drinking plenty of fluids can help the stone pass and reduce pain.


Some medications may be used to help break up kidney stones and other medications to treat pain. Medications for renal colic include:

  • Medicines for uric acid kidney stones
  • alpha blocker medications to help the stones pass
  • antibiotics for infections
  • cystine control drugs to reduce cystine levels in the urine
  • diuretics
  • pain relievers
  • Potassium citrate or sodium bicarbonate to regulate urine pH and prevent stone formation
  • Sodium cellulose phosphate to bind calcium in the gut

Other treatments

In addition to medication, other treatments may be needed to treat or remove kidney stones. In some cases, surgery may be required. Other kidney stone treatments include:

  • Heat therapy (for pain)
  • Lithotripsy (use of ultrasonic vibration to break up kidney stones)
  • surgery to remove large stones
  • Stent placement to keep the urinary tubes open from the kidneys to the bladder
  • Ureteroscopy (minimally invasive surgery)
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What is good for renal colic?

You should drink plenty of fluids to help reduce the pain of renal colic and to clear any blockages in your urinary tract. You can ask your doctor how much fluid you should drink each day and which fluids are best for you. You may need to drink about 3 liters (12 glasses) of fluid each day. Half of your total daily fluid should be water. Limit yourself to just 2 cups of coffee, tea or soda a day. Because your urine should be clean.

Apart from these, some suggestions are given below.

  1. Filter your urine each time you urinate.
    Urine into a strainer (funnel with a fine mesh at the bottom) or glass jar to collect kidney stones. Give kidney stones to your doctor at your next visit. In this way, your doctor can recommend a more effective treatment.
  2. Eat a variety of healthy foods to cope with renal colic.
    Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats and fish. You may need to increase the amount of citrus you eat, such as oranges. Ask your doctor how much salt, calcium, and protein you should take.
  3. Avoid activities in hot weather:
    The heat can cause you to drink more water than necessary, which can increase the number of times you urinate.

What are the complications of renal colic?

As we said above, renal colic is not a disease, but a symptom of kidney stones. So it has no complications of its own. If you do not treat kidney stones , complications such as urinary tract infection or kidney damage may develop.

Can renal colic be prevented?

To avoid renal colic and kidney stones in the future, you can take the following steps:

  • Drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Stop drinking soda (mineral water), especially anything containing phosphoric acid.
  • Use as little salt as possible in your meals.
  • Limit or reduce the amount of animal protein in foods such as eggs, fish and red meat.
  • Limit or reduce oxalate-rich foods such as rhubarb, hazelnuts, and spinach.

Also, your doctor may prescribe medications to prevent kidney stones from forming.

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