Kidney stones can form when calcium, uric acid, oxalate, or cystine builds up in excessive quantities in the body. The most common type of kidney stone is made of calcium oxalate. Cystine stones are rare and affect people who have a genetic disorder that causes cystine to leak from the kidneys into the urine. Another type of kidney stone, called a struvite stone, is associated with urinary tract infections and is more common in women. Most kidney stones are as small as a grain of sand, so they pass in the urine without causing any symptoms. If the stones grow larger, however, reaching the size of a pebble or even a golf ball, they cannot pass through the urinary tract and cause pain and other symptoms.
Pain is the most widely experienced symptom of kidney stones. The medical term for this type of pain is renal colic. Where in the body the stone is lodged determines where the pain is felt most strongly. It is common to feel pains in one or both of the sides of the lower back, but if the stone is lower down, pain can intensify in the groin. Sometimes the pain starts in the back and moves around to the stomach, causing severe spasms or continuous throbbing.
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