How can I manage the pain when passing a kidney stone?

While you wait for a kidney stone to pass -- or for stone fragments to pass after a procedure -- you can take steps to manage the pain, care for yourself, and help make the process go better. The pain of passing a stone -- or living with a temporary stent -- can't be removed entirely, but there are several ways you can manage and control it:
  • Pain medication. Your doctor might suggest over-the-counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) to ease the pain. Or, your doctor might prescribe pain medication for you to take while you're passing the stone.
  • Focus techniques. When the pain surges, it can help to focus specifically on something else. This doesn't make the pain go away, but focusing your attention elsewhere can distract you. Try these tricks: Breath focus: Count to 4 each time you inhale and exhale. Focus on your breath coming in and going out. Meditation: Clear your mind while you focus on a specific word, phrase, or mental image. There are books and CDs that give instructions on how to do this. Distraction: Focus intensely on a spot in the room, a mental puzzle, a movie, or music.
  • Warmth. For some people, using a hot water bottle or heating pad -- or taking a hot shower or bath -- can ease the pain somewhat.
Acute pain treatment. If the pain is unbearable and no other pain management strategy helps, your doctor might admit you to the hospital to have stronger pain medication through an IV (intravenous) line.

Family or friends. When you're in a lot of pain, the people around you often worry and want to help. Let them listen, take over some of your daily responsibilities, or help in some other way.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.