Renal colic refers to the pain felt in the lower back or sides due to blockage of the urinary tract. The pain is usually severe and one-sided. It may be intermittent and gradually worsen. Other symptoms associated with renal colic include nausea and vomiting, pain and problems with urination as well as fever.
The urinary tract consists of the kidneys, ureters, bladder, and urethra. Urine formed in the kidneys passes through the ureters to reach the bladder where it is stored and later released through the urethra to the outside of the body. Blockage of the urinary tract usually occurs due to the formation of kidney stones which may lodge in different parts of the tract. Kidney stones commonly develop in men between the ages of 20-30. They may differ in chemical makeup.
After reviewing your symptoms, your doctor may order blood or urine tests to evaluate your kidney function and look for signs of infection. Imaging tests such as an ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan or MRI are ordered to visualise the stone or any other cause for your symptoms.
Treatment is based on the size, type and position of the stone. You may be instructed to increase your water intake to help flush out small stones. Pain is controlled with medications. Certain types of stones can be dissolved with medication. Your doctor may also prescribe medications to help relax the bladder and make it easier for the stones to exit.
Larger stones may need to be broken up or removed surgically. Shock wave therapy is a commonly used procedure that uses sound waves to break up stones into fragments that are later passed out in the urine. Surgery is necessary for larger stones or if the kidneys are not functioning well. It may be performed by inserting an endoscope through the urethra or by making an incision in the back to directly access the kidney. The stones are then removed or broken up with special instruments.