Renal colic typically begins in the abdomen and often radiates to the hypochondrium (the part of the anterior abdominal wall below the costal margins) or the groin. It is typically colicky (comes in waves) due to uretericperistalsis, but may be constant. It is often described as being among the most unpleasant of all sensations (being worse even than childbirth).
Although this condition can be quite painful, kidney stones usually cause no permanent physical damage. The experience is said to be traumatizing due to pain, and the experience of passing blood, blood clots, and pieces of the stone. Depending on the sufferer's situation, nothing more than imbibing significant amounts of water may be called for; in other instances, surgery may be needed. Preventive treatment can be instituted to minimize the likelihood of recurrence.
Most small stones are passed spontaneously and only pain management is required. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as diclofenac and antispasmodics like butylscopolamine are used. Although morphine may be administered to assist with pain management, it is often not recommended as morphine raises ureteral pressure, worsening the condition. There is typically no antalgic position for the patient (lying down on the non-aching side and applying a hot bottle or towel to the area affected may help). If the pain is not too intense, a more speedy release of the stones may be achieved by walking. Larger stones may require surgical intervention for their removal, such as percutaneous nephrolithotomy.