The Surprising Thing That Can Help You Pass A Kidney Stone

Kidney stones are hardened mineral deposits that form inside your kidneys (via Mayo Clinic). Passing kidney stones through urination can be very painful. For some people, taking medication and drinking plenty of water may be enough to pass a kidney stone. Others require surgery.

But researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have found a somewhat unique way to help some people pass a kidney stone: riding a roller coaster. A 2016 study published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association looked at the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, following patient reports of passing kidney stones after riding. "Basically, I had patients telling me that after riding a particular roller coaster at Walt Disney World, they were able to pass their kidney stone," researcher David Wartinger said in an article about the study on MSU's website. "I even had one patient say he passed three different stones after riding multiple times."

How the study worked

For the study, the researchers used a synthetic 3D model kidney containing three kidney stones no bigger than 4 millimeters (via MSU). Wartinger then rode the roller coaster 20 times with the model in his backpack. In total, the researchers tested 174 kidney stones of varying shapes, sizes, and weights. They found there was a better chance of passing the kidney stone while sitting in the back of the roller coaster, with a 70% passage rate in these seats.

The researchers ran the same experiment on other roller coasters in the theme park, but these failed to pass the stones. The reason for this, they said, is because rides that are too fast or violent can pin the stone into the kidney, preventing it from passing. Rides that are quick and have some twists and turns, but don't go upside down, create ideal conditions for passing a kidney stone, the researchers say. Still, they caution to heed health warnings before going on a roller coaster, and only to do so if you are healthy and meet the requirements of the ride.