Kidney stones could put people at risk of suffering bone fractures. People who formed kidney or urinary tract stones were more likely to suffer fractures later in life, according to new research from the University of Pennsylvania. The average time from the time stones formed to bone fracture was 10 years.
Urolithiasis, the formation of kidney and urinary stones, occurs in between three and five percent of adults.
Medical records of 51,785 people diagnosed with stones were examined in the study, along with 517,267 patients who never experienced urolithiasis. The subjects were tracked for an average of 4.7 years, revealing kidney and urinary stones were found to significantly increase the likelihood of bone fracture. These injuries occurred throughout the bone systems of patients, suggesting a generalized weakening of the skeletal system.
Reduced bone mineral density in the skeletons of stone formers could be the cause of the relationship between the two conditions, researchers speculate.
Women were found to be between 17 and 52 percent more likely to suffer fractured bones after experiencing urinary or kidney stones. These injuries took place throughout the third to seventh decades of life, with most cases occurring when women were in their 30's. Risk of bone fractures went up 10 percent among male stone formers. Their risk peaked at a 55 percent increase during adolescence.
"The significantly higher risk at certain ages in males and females has profound public health implications. Given that the median time from diagnosis of urolithiasis to fracture was a decade, we might be able to intervene during this interval to reduce the burden of future fracture," Michelle Denburg of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, said.
Kidney stones are hard, rock-like deposits that form inside kidneys, from minerals and acid salts. The stones can affect several parts of the urinary tract. As they travel through the system, they can cause extreme pain, but the effects are usually not dangerous. Usual treatment consists of taking pain medication and drinking large volumes of water. In extreme cases, surgery may be required to remove the objects from the body.
"Drinking enough fluids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. You should drink 2 to 3 liters of fluid a day. If you had cystine stones, you may need to drink even more. Though water is best, other fluids may also help prevent kidney stones, such as citrus drinks," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends.
The average age of subjects in the study was 53, and two-thirds of the patients studied were male.
A possible relationship between urinary or kidney stones and bone fractures was detailed in the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.