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Do you instantly feel better after passing a kidney stone?

Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside your kidneys. Passing a kidney stone can be an extremely painful experience that causes intense pain in your back, side, lower abdomen or groin. However, once the stone passes out of your urinary tract, most people experience immediate relief from the severe pain and discomfort. In this article, we’ll look at why you typically feel better right after passing a kidney stone and discuss what you can expect as you continue to recover.

What causes the pain from kidney stones?

Kidney stones cause pain primarily due to obstruction and stretching of the urinary tract. As the stone moves from the kidney down the ureter toward the bladder, it can:

  • Partially or fully block the flow of urine
  • Stretch the walls of the ureter and renal pelvis
  • Cause spasms in the ureter

This obstruction and stretching stimulate pain receptors in the urinary tract, leading to the intense flank, abdominal and groin pain. The pain typically comes in waves, increasing as the stone moves and decreasing as it stops. The pain often becomes most severe just before passing as the stone enters the narrow urethral opening.

Why does the pain stop after passing a stone?

Once the kidney stone passes through the urinary tract and out of the body, the source of the pain is immediately removed. Specifically:

  • The obstruction is gone, allowing urine to flow freely again.
  • The urinary tract spasms and stretching subside.
  • The pressure on the renal pelvis and ureteral walls is relieved.

Without the stone causing urinary blockage and irritation, the pain receptors are no longer stimulated. This is why most people experience immediate pain relief after passing a kidney stone.

What type of pain might persist?

While the severe pain typically goes away right after passing a kidney stone, some residual discomfort in the urinary tract may persist for a few days. This can include:

  • Mild, dull flank or abdominal pain
  • Bladder spasms
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Pink, red or brown urine from blood

This residual pain happens because passing a stone can inflame and irritate the urinary tract. There may be some injury to the ureters or urethra. It takes some time for this inflammation to resolve after the stone has passed.

What helps ease any remaining discomfort?

To help manage any lingering pain or discomfort after passing a kidney stone, try:

  • Drinking plenty of water to flush out your urinary tract
  • Urinating frequently to help expel any debris
  • Taking over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Taking warm baths to provide soothing relief
  • Avoiding physically demanding activities for a few days

Your doctor may also recommend medication to help relax the urinary tract or ease persistent bladder spasms after passing a stone.

When should you seek medical attention?

Make sure to follow up with your healthcare provider after passing a kidney stone, especially if:

  • You have symptoms of an infection like fever, chills or foul-smelling urine
  • You are unable to keep down fluids due to vomiting
  • Your pain or discomfort worsens or persists more than a few days
  • You pass multiple stones within a short timeframe
  • You see blood clots in your urine

These could be signs of complications that require prompt medical care. Rarely, stones may become stuck again and need to be removed surgically. So it’s important to monitor your condition closely.

What is the recovery time after passing a kidney stone?

For uncomplicated cases, recovery time after passing a kidney stone is usually 1 to 2 weeks but can vary. During this time, you can expect:

  • Mild discomfort with urination for 1 to 2 days
  • Light pink urine for up to 1 week as small amounts of blood pass
  • Possible bruising and tenderness over the urinary tract
  • Normal urinary frequency and urgency to return within 2 to 3 days

Larger stones above 5 mm may take longer to recover from. It is important to take it easy and avoid strenuous activity for at least 1 week after passing a stone. Heavy lifting and exercise can increase pressure in the kidneys. Stay well hydrated and monitor your symptoms carefully.

Tips for speeding your recovery

To help your urinary tract heal and recover faster after passing a kidney stone, try to:

  • Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water daily
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and carbonated drinks
  • Limit foods high in salt, sugar or oxalates
  • Take pain relievers as needed to manage discomfort
  • Get plenty of rest and avoid straining your urinary tract

Easing back into your regular routine is important. Don’t hesitate to call your doctor if you have any concerns during your recovery.

Are you at risk of developing another kidney stone?

Unfortunately, if you have had one kidney stone, you are at increased risk of having another. Some statistics on recurrence include:

  • 35% – 50% will have a second stone within 5 years
  • 50% – 80% will have another stone within their lifetime
  • Patients with multiple past stones have about a 10% chance per year of forming another

Certain factors can increase your chances of a repeat stone:

  • Obesity
  • Gout
  • Chronic dehydration
  • High sodium diet
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Family history

To prevent future kidney stones after passing one, your doctor may recommend:

  • Drinking enough fluids daily
  • Following a kidney stone prevention diet
  • Taking certain medications to help prevent stone formation
  • Undergoing metabolic testing to identify any correctable risk factors

When can you resume normal activities after passing a kidney stone?

It’s normal to want to get back to your usual routine soon after passing a painful kidney stone. Here are some general guidelines on when you can resume activities:


Most people need to take about 3-7 days off work after passing a stone. Those with very physically demanding jobs may require up to 2 weeks off.


Avoid strenuous exercise for at least 1 week after stone passage. After that, ease back into exercise gradually.

Sexual activity

You may need to wait 3-4 days to resume sexual activity. Passing a stone can cause urinary tract soreness and inflammation. Give your body time to start healing before having sex again.


You can likely resume driving 1-2 days after passing a kidney stone once acute pain has resolved. Stop immediately if pain occurs. Avoid longer trips for 1 week.


It’s best to postpone any non-essential air travel or long trips for at least 1-2 weeks after passing a kidney stone. Stay close to home during the initial recovery period.

Always check with your doctor for individualized advice on returning to your normal routine based on your symptoms, stone size and overall health status. The larger the stone, the longer activity restrictions may be needed.

What can you learn from passing a kidney stone?

If you have recently passed a kidney stone, try to consider it a learning experience. While certainly painful, it can motivate you to make positive changes to prevent a repeat stone. Passing a stone gives you insights into ways you can adjust your diet, lifestyle and fluid intake. Be sure to:

  • Follow up with your urologist for metabolic testing and to discuss treatment options
  • Keep a food diary to identify your main dietary sources of sodium, calcium, oxalates and purines
  • Increase your daily fluid intake to reach a urine output of over 2 liters per day
  • Reduce intake of foods linked to your type of kidney stones
  • Get laboratory analysis done on your passed stone(s)

Put preventative habits in place. Your urologist can provide personalized recommendations so you can avoid repeating the painful kidney stone experience.


In summary, most people feel immediate pain relief after passing a kidney stone once the obstruction in the urinary tract resolves. Some residual discomfort may persist for a few days after stone passage. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids, take pain relievers as needed, and avoid strenuous activity during your recovery period. It can take 1-2 weeks for your urinary tract to completely heal. Be aware that you are at greater risk for another stone, so make sure to follow prevention advice from your healthcare provider. Use the experience to make positive changes to improve your hydration, diet, medication routine and lifestyle going forward.