Urinary stones are a build-up of minerals in the urine that can eventually form a hard mass, called a stone. Stones occur in almost 25% of people with a spinal cord injury within the first 10 years.
Risk factors for forming stones
When the bladder doesn’t empty properly the minerals in the urine may form stones. SCI increases your risk of developing stones.
One risk factor for stone formation post-injury is caused by increased calcium that is present in the urine because you are not using your bones to move around and they start to lose calcium. The body gets rid of the excess calcium via the urine. This excess calcium may start to bunch together over time and form a stone.
Bladder stones are also more likely to form if there is a foreign body in the bladder such as an indwelling catheter.
Signs and symptoms
Bladder stones may not have any signs or symptoms and might be discovered during other tests or procedures.
If a stone irritates the bladder there may be signs and symptoms such as:
- Recurrent urinary tract infection
- Autonomic dysreflexia
- Lower abdominal pain
- Leaking or frequent urination
- Blood in your urine.
Prevention of stones
Because bladder stones form due to an underlying condition that is hard to prevent, it may be impossible to completely prevent them forming, however there are ways of minimising stone formation.
If you have an indwelling catheter drink plenty of fluids (especially water). If your urine is less concentrated, there is a lower chance of a stone forming.
Have regular check-ups. This can help detect a stone before it becomes a bigger problem.