Roller coasters release kidney stones

Kidney stones are no laughing matter. When sitting in the kidneys the danger is they could cause an obstruction which is a serious health condition that may include infection, kidney failure, and severe pain. Likewise, even small stones that pass into the ureters (the tubes leading from the kidneys) can cause what is referred to as the worst pain a man can experience (putting it second to childbirth) in a condition known as renal colic. Ideally, you want to prevent stones forming but once they have formed, if they are small stones, the aim is to get them to pass before they become bigger and cause more problems, and a new study suggests there may be a novel way to do that.

Conventional wisdom tells owners of small kidney stones to drink lots of water to flush the little suckers away. If this study is right though, you might also add a ride on a roller coaster to your treatment.

The idea for the study came from patient reports that the roller coaster at Disney World Florida, “The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad”, facilitated the passing small kidney stones. One patient, for example, said that he had passed a kidney stone after each of his three rides on the roller coaster.

To test whether there might be something to this, researchers used 3-D printing to create a model kidney that they filled with urine and three kidney stones of different sizes. The researchers then wore the kidney in a specially designed backpack while they took 20 rides on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

They found that regardless of the size and location of the stone at the start of the ride, the stones passed 63.89 per cent of the time when the rider sat on the back carriage and 16.67 per cent of the time when the rider sat in the front carriage.

It seems likely that the random forces of the roller coaster jar the stone loose from where it may be lodged allowing it to make its way out of the kidney. The researchers say it may not work for everyone but it will work for some people.

Could recommendations for small kidney stones one day read, “Drink lots of water and take three doses of moderate intensity back-carriage riding on ‘The Corkscrew’”.?

Source: Journal of the American Osteopathic Association

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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