Kidney Stones and Roller Coasters – What’s Really Going On?

Kidney Stones and Roller Coasters

If you’re a roller coaster enthusiast, you’ve likely felt the trademark drop in your stomach, leap in your heart, and tingle in your fingertips that usually occur during a ride. Some people even experience a jolt to the back, a kick to the lower abdomen, and bladder urgency – all of which are associated with the passage of kidney stones. Maybe you’ve heard about a recent study that suggests that riding a roller coaster can actually help an individual pass a kidney stone. If you’re wondering whether this could be true, read on. In short, it may be possible, but only in certain cases.

A urologist decided to take a closer look at this phenomenon after seeing several patients who reported that they had passed kidney stones after riding roller coasters at amusement parks. His research team created a silicone model of a human kidney, then filled it with kidney stones and urine. Holding the model at normal kidney height, a team member rode a moderate-intensity roller coaster multiple times.

The results of the study showed that, in many cases, kidney stones that were initially situated near the outer ducts of the kidney had been propelled toward the top of the ureter (the tube that connects the kidney to the bladder) during a ride. The researchers also noticed that the stones tended to show more movement during rides at the back of the roller coaster than at the front. This is probably because the back of a roller coaster tends to be bumpier than the front, which can result in more jostling of the body.

The final report of this study, which was published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, suggests that riding a roller coaster could potentially help an individual who has one or more kidney stones that measure five millimeters or less in diameter.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that more than 300,000 people in the U.S. seek emergency medical attention for kidney stones each year. Almost all of these people are experiencing excruciating pain caused by a large kidney stone that has become lodged in a ureter. For these people, it’s highly unlikely that riding a roller coaster would be helpful (or even possible). That’s because the goal of a roller coaster ride would be to displace a small kidney stone before it has a chance to become large enough to cause discomfort.

At South Tampa Immediate Care, we encourage you to talk with a urologist if you have been diagnosed with (or suspect that you might have) a kidney stone. If the stone is very small and you enjoy riding roller coasters, your urologist may encourage you to give it a try. You might just end up passing the stone while having some fun in the process – in effect, killing two birds with one stone.

If you have questions about this or any other health-related topic, call or visit South Tampa Immediate Care on South Howard Avenue in Tampa, FL. You can speak with a physician without an appointment.