Avoiding the pain of kidney stones

If you've had a stone, the problem is likely to recur — but it doesn't have to. Use these strategies for prevention.

The pain associated with kidney stones has been described by some as more excruciating than childbirth. Kidney stones are small, hard stones, formed when high levels of minerals in your urine start to crystallize in your kidneys, forming a pebble-like mass. The pain comes when these stones migrate from your kidneys through the ureters, which are the narrow tubes that carry urine from your kidneys into your bladder.

"Kidney stone pain is not subtle," says Dr. Gary Curhan, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. It typically starts in the flank, at the side of the lower back. Sometimes if the stone moves, the pain migrates to the front of the body.

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