Kidney stone pain (renal colic)

This information is for people who have been in the emergency department (A&E) for pain from kidney stones. This is known as renal colic.

Kidney stones are hard objects made from crystallised chemicals in the pee (urine). These grow inside the kidney and can get stuck in the tube that connects your kidney to your bladder (ureter).

When a stone blocks the ureter, it can cause severe pain known as renal colic.

Symptoms of kidney stones include:

  • aching in the side of your tummy (abdomen)
  • severe pain as the stone gets stuck in the ureter, this can spread down into the abdomen or groin
  • blood in your pee
  • needing to pee more often

Tests we might do for kidney stones include:

  • a blood test, to check your kidneys are working properly, and for any infection
  • a urine test, to check for blood or infection
  • a CT scan or ultrasound scan, to check for kidney stones

Treatment for kidney stones

Most stones will come out with your pee without any medical help within 4 weeks.

If your pain is controlled and you do not have a temperature, you can go home with painkillers (to be used if needed).

You should sieve or collect your pee to check for stones. This is very important, as it might reduce the need for more scans.

If a stone does not pass

If a stone does not pass on its own, treatment will be recommended.

You'll be contacted by the urology stone team at Guy’s Hospital, and a telephone appointment with the colic clinic will be made. The timing of the appointment will depend on the size and location of your stone.

Your doctor should be able to give you a clinic date when you leave the emergency department.

Come back to the emergency department (A&E) if:

  • you cannot pee
  • your pain has come back, and painkillers are not helping
  • you are being sick (vomiting)
  • you have signs of an infections, such as a high temperature (fever), burning when peeing and feeling tired or unwell

Useful information

BAUS (British Association of Urological Surgeons) has reliable information about kidneys stones, their treatment, and how to prevent them with fluid and diet.

Resource number: 5173/VER2
Last reviewed: December 2021
Next review: May 2024

Contact us

If you need to change or cancel your urology appointment, please contact the urology team at Guy’s Hospital.

Phone: 020 7188 2443

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