Kidney Stones & Shoulder Pain

Fact Checked

iImage by, courtesy of Josh Pesavento

Due to the complexity of the human body, the site of pain is not always the site of the related illness or injury. The National Library of Medicine indicates that this can be the case for kidney stones. Sometimes pain is felt directly at the site of the kidneys, but sometimes it is felt in the groin, or in various areas of the mid to lower back. While there do not appear to be any specific ties to kidney stones and shoulder pain, there are situations where the two might be--or just appear to be--connected.

Simultaneous Conditions

According to Julia Chang, Master of Science (MSc), kidney stones and gallstones can sometimes occur at the same time. While shoulder pain is not necessarily a symptom of kidney stones, both Chang and the UK Kidney Federation show that it can be a symptom of gallstones. If a patient is certain kidney stones are causing some pain, he may want to be examined for the occurrence of gallstones as well. Both conditions relate to the buildup of minerals (often calcium) in the system, so it is not strange that the two conditions might exist concurrently. Even if the patient is uncertain whether kidney stones are causing his discomfort, he should probably still be examined for the appearance of gallstones.

Residual Pain

An article on acupuncture practices that was published in the Billings Gazette (Billings, Mont.) points to the fact that muscle tension can easily spread to the surrounding areas. Kidney stones can cause pain in the middle to lower back. As one part of the body feels pain, tension can build in the surrounding muscles. As muscles tense in response to pain and discomfort, that tension can spread. Thus, it is possible that pain caused by kidney stones could, through a resulting line of tension, be experienced as pain in the shoulders.


If feeling persistent pain in the shoulder area, take note of the nature of the pain. Write down how frequently pain is felt and what type of pain it is (whether it is a throbbing pain, stabbing pain, a dull ache, for instance). This will help a physician determine the nature of the pain, and contribute to a diagnosis.

Causes of Kidney Stones

According to the National Library of Medicine, kidney stones occur when there is an overabundance of calcium or other minerals in urine. These minerals crystallize and form stones. Stones obstruct the vessels in the kidneys or along the urinary tract. Some stones are large enough to restrict the flow of urine, which can cause the kidneys to swell. This swelling causes intense pain. Pain resulting from kidney stones can be felt in the abdomen, back or groin.


One key to kidney stone prevention is also helpful in preventing shoulder pain (as well as other potentially muscular pains). Drinking plenty of water will keep toxins regularly flushed out of the body, making it less likely that there will be stone-causing buildup.