Kidney stone (nephrolithiasis) is a common problem in western countires, whose formation maybe related to high dietary calcium and protein. While many may pass their stones without intervention, the process is painful and unpleasant (referred to as renal colic.) Some may require further treatment, including insertion of a stent in the ureter, and lithotripsy (acoustic shock wave to break the stones) if stones are too large and too high.
It is not known to the genral public at all that acupuncture maybe used here. In my experience, I have treated 7 patients in recent years and six of them passed stones without any pain, either immediately after acupuncture or several days later.
The following is a short case example : Joe is a healthy 75 year old male with a history of kidney stones. Three yeas ago, he did require lithotripsy and a ureteral stent which he remembered as painful and traumatic. This time he presented to the local ER with typical renal colic and the presence of a stone in the right distal ureter was confirmed by X-ray examination. After one acupuncture session, he passed the stone 12 hours later with no pain.
I also treated a college girl several years ago whose story was more challenging. She failed to pass the stone after receiving lithotripsy and ureteroscopy six months before she came to me. One one acupuncture session, she passed her kidney stone a few days later, and again, it was painless.
There maybe multiple mechanisms how acupuncture works here. I believe the smooth muscle relaxation through acupucnture is an important reason. From perspectives of TCM and energy medicine, acupuncture may enhance the kidney energy which then facilitates stone passage.