The People's Perspective on Medicine

How to Pass a Kidney Stone Riding a Roller Coaster

Sliding up and down and whipping around corners on a thrilling roller coaster ride has been shown to help pass a kidney stone.

This treatment definitely qualifies as one of the more bizarre (or if you wish “wacky”) therapies we have encountered, but we assure you it has just been published in a medical journal. It won’t appeal to everyone, but some people who suffer from the recurrent horrifying pain of renal calculi will be thrilled to learn you have a better chance to pass a kidney stone after you ride a roller coaster.

What Is a Kidney Stone?

Kidney stones form in the kidneys when calcium and other minerals clump together. They eventually move into the bladder and then into the urethra, where they can cause excruciating pain as they pass through. We suspect that anyone who has ever had one would be extremely grateful to have a way to pass a kidney stone more readily.

A Doctor Really Listened to His Patient:

One patient reported to his doctor that a trip to Disney World and a ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster resulted in his passing three such stones.

The curious urologist was intrigued. This was not the first such patient report he’d heard, so he decided to investigate.

The Roller Coaster Study:

He built a model kidney that was configured like his patient’s organ. Then he filled it with urine and kidney stones and headed from Michigan to Orlando where he told the folks at Disney World just why he’d be riding the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster ride 20 times in a row.

We don’t know if Dr. Wartinger and his co-author Dr. Mitchell were suffering for science or if they are roller coaster enthusiasts. They didn’t include that in the report. But they do say that sitting in the last car of the roller coaster allowed the artificial kidney to pass a kidney stone 64 percent of the time. The doctors suggest that a roller coaster ride might be good preventive medicine for people prone to kidney stones.

Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Oct., 2016

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I have/had kidney stones with subsequent lithotripsy (sp?). Since that “attack” I had two episodes of hospital emergency rooms. During the last one, I was given nothing for pain. I decided I could bear the pain better at home, so I left. When I got home I began hopping up and down, jumping off the bottom step of the kitchen stool, and doing a very firm rub from below the left breast to the left ovary area. As I did that I noted that the pain moved downward and within a very short time the back pain stopped and it moved into the right side of my bladder. That hurt. I drank several bottles of ice water and ended up urinating like a race horse…and passed a kidney stone….and the pain stopped altogether. The last time I had that terrible pain, I began to skip rope….not particularly easy for a 72 year old woman….however, it worked. I never went to the hospital and I passed the kidney stone just fine. I highly recommend that folks with kidney stones try this. Of course, we know that if the stone is too big to pass…well, there is always lithotripsey and with a reasonable doctor, proper medication to help you “make it through the night” so to speak.

Hmmm…I think doing simple jumping jacks will result in the stone passing. Having passed two myself, the key seems to be a lot of movement, like climbing a ladder, jumping jacks, walking, etc., whatever will help gravity push the stone through the tubes. However, larger than 5 mm stones probably will have to be taken out using other means.

By the way, during my first kidney stone attack, I was told that I needed a CT Scan in order to verify there indeed was a stone. CT Scans I’m told involve a lot of radiation. I asked if a ultrasound could be used instead and was told that this technique could not be used on stones smaller than 5mm. So, they scanned both sides and when I received the bill for this visit the cost for the CT Scans was $5000! I had a second stone in my other kidney and at a later point in time they did a ultrasound on it and observed it very clearly. When it passed it turned out to only be 3.5mm so the original information about needing a CT Scan was false.

The fact that the doctor listened to his patient AND was interested enough to see if the information given had merit spoke volumes about the man. My kind of doctor.

Years ago, I did not pass a kidney stone after a carnival ride, but I made it move and experienced excruciating pain during and after a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl. I believe the centrifugal force of being spun so hard certainly caused it to move.

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