A thrilling cure for kidney stones?
Each year, more than 500,000 people head to emergency rooms due to kidney stones, according to the National Kidney Foundation. But recent research suggests stone sufferers head somewhere else to shake loose their stones—an amusement park.
After hearing from multiple patients who passed small kidney stones after riding Walt Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster, researchers out of Michigan State University decided to test it out themselves.
They created an artificial kidney out of silicone and loaded it with actual kidney stones and then rode the coaster 20 times with the kidney in between them, sitting at the height a person’s kidneys would typically be during the ride. The results were thrilling.
Sitting in the front of the ride shook out four of 24 stones placed in the kidney. But when riding in the back of the coaster, 23 stones shook loose.
There is a catch: the kidney stones must be small—no larger than 4-5 mm, or they can get stuck on their way out of the body.
If you’ve undergone extracorporeal shockwave lithotripsy, a treatment method that uses shock waves to break a kidney stone into such smaller, passable pieces, a roller coaster ride just may be in order.
“I’ve had patients that have had stone attacks after jumping on a trampoline or practicing yoga, as well,” says Dr. Herbert User, a urologist at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill. “We’ve been giving patients instructions for inversion therapy for years to help shake out small stones and fragments after lithotripsy or ureteroscopies.”
Dr. User provides patients with instructions on inversion therapy in hopes of passing these remnant stones. The practice involves laying inverted or upside down to allow gravity to aid in the passing of small stone fragments that may be stuck.
The instructions include the following steps:
- Drink two, 8-ounce glasses of water. Wait 30 minutes.
- Lie face down and head down on a board angled 30-45 degrees for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Continue laying head down, but turn side of the body with treated kidney up for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Sit back up and drink 8 ounces of water.
But remember, before you and your stones head to the amusement park, make sure to check in with your physician about the best and safest treatment options for you.
About the Author
Holly Brenza, health enews contributor, is the public affairs coordinator at Advocate Children's Hospital. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. In her free time, Holly enjoys reading, watching the White Sox and Blackhawks, playing with her dog, Bear and running her cats' Instagram account, @strangefurthings.