Kidney Stones and Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury and Spina Bifida

Boy in wheelchair in pain from kidney stone
Kidney stones are hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys and need to be passed through the urinary tract or removed. Learn common causes and how to help prevent kidney stones from wound, ostomy and continence nurse, Cheryl Hutton, with CHC Solutions, Inc.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

There are many causes of kidney stones. Common causes include diet, excess body weight, some medical conditions and certain supplements/medications. The stones form when urine becomes more concentrated with other minerals, such as oxalate and calcium, than other fluids. Then, these minerals start to crystalize and stick together.

Those with spina bifida and spinal cord injuries can be at an increased risk of developing kidney stones for reasons such as lack of mobility and metabolic changes.

The signs and symptoms in these patients with neurologic disorders may include fever, signs of urinary tract infection, cloudy and concentrated urine and possibly pain. However, not everyone with a neurologic disease may experience pain. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your doctor immediately.

Preventative Measures

There are few lifestyle changes that can help prevent kidney stones:

  • Stay Hydrated
  • Lower Your Salt Intake
  • Lower Your Oxalate Intake
  • Maintain A Healthy Weight

Stay Hydrated

It is important to stay hydrated so that fluids can continuously pass throughout the day. This clears out the kidneys and allows less time for minerals and substances to form stones. Staying hydrated also helps the urine to be less concentrated with minerals. In addition to drinking water, lemonade can be helpful as it contains citrate which helps in stone prevention.

Lower Your Salt Intake

Having too much salt can prevent necessary substances in the urine from being broken down and absorbed by the blood. Then, when these substances are not properly absorbed, they can increase the risk of forming kidney stones.

Lower Your Oxalate Intake

When a diet is high in oxalate, this oxalate can bind with another substance to form a kidney stone. Foods high in oxalate include:

  • Chocolate
  • Peanuts
  • Potatoes
  • Beets
  • Figs

Calcium is a substance that commonly binds with oxalate in the bladder to form kidney stones, but you should not lower your calcium intake. Calcium is necessary to the diet because it helps in building bone, regulating blood vessels and other functions.

Maintain A Healthy Weight

Individuals that are overweight can have a higher chance of developing kidney stones. For instance, they may have more of the minerals causing kidney stone formation. According to the Mayo Clinic, an individual should try to engage in some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day.

Having a Kidney Stone

If you believe you have a kidney stone, consult with your doctor immediately. They can advise you on the best treatment. A doctor will typically test the urine and stones to determine their type and provide further recommendations.

Overall, always talk with your doctor regarding any concerns, changes of diet or treatment plans.

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*Disclaimer: Any health and wellness content presented is for general informational purposes only. Such content is not intended to replace or serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.