What is bone pain?
Bone pain or tenderness is aching or other discomfort in one or more bones. It differs from muscle and joint pain because it’s present whether you’re moving or not. Bone pain is less common than joint pain and muscle pain.
How common is Bone Pain?
Bone pain can affect patients at any age. It can be managed by reducing your risk factors. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.
What are the symptoms of bone pain?
The common symptom of bone pain is discomfort whether you’re still or moving. Other symptoms depend on the particular cause of your bone pain:
- Injury: Swelling, visible breaks or deformities, a snap or grinding noise upon injury;
- Pregnancy: Pain in the pubic bone and stiffness and pain in the pelvic joints;
- Mineral deficiency: Muscle and tissue pain, sleep disturbances, cramps, fatigue, weakness;
- Osteoporosis: Back pain, stooped posture, loss of height over time;
- Metastatic cancer: A large range of symptoms depending on where the cancer has spread that may include headache, chest pain, bone fractures, seizures, dizziness, jaundice, shortness of breath, swelling in the belly.
- Bone cancer: Increased bone breaks, a lump or mass under the skin, numbness or tingling (from when a tumor presses on a nerve).
- Disrupted blood supply to the bones: Joint pain, loss of joint function, and weakness;
- Infection: Redness, streaks from the infection site, swelling, warmth at the infection site, decreased range of motion, nausea, loss of appetite;
- Leukemia: Fatigue, pale skin, shortness of breath, night sweats, unexplained weight loss.
There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.
When should I see my doctor?
Serious conditions are often the cause of bone pain. Even mild bone pain may indicate an emergency condition. If you experience unexplained bone pain that doesn’t improve within a few days, consult your doctor.
You should also see a doctor if the bone pain is accompanied by weight loss, decreased appetite, or general fatigue.
Bone pain that results from injury should also prompt a doctor’s visit. Medical treatment is required for fractures from direct trauma to the bone. Without proper treatment, bones can heal in incorrect positions and inhibit movement. Trauma also predisposes you to infection.
If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.
What causes bone pain?
- Injury: Injury is a common cause of bone pain. Typically, this pain arises when a person goes through some form of trauma, such as a car accident or fall. The impact may break or fracture the bone. Any damage to the bone can cause bone pain.
- Pregnancy: Pelvic bone pain is a common occurrence for many pregnant women. This pain is sometimes referred to as pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain (PPGP). PPGP typically doesn’t resolve until after delivery.
- Mineral deficiency: To stay strong, your bones require a variety of minerals and vitamins, including calcium and vitamin D. A deficiency in calcium and vitamin D often leads to osteoporosis, the most common type of bone disease. People in the late stages of osteoporosis often have bone pain.
- Metastatic cancer: This is cancer that started somewhere else in the body but spread to other body parts. Cancers of the breast, lung, thyroid, kidney, and prostate are among the cancers that commonly spread to the bones.
- Bone cancer: Bone cancer describes cancer cells that originate in the bone itself. Bone cancer is much rarer than metastatic bone cancer. It can cause bone pain when the cancer disrupts or destroys the bone’s normal structure.
- Diseases that disturb blood supply to bones: Some diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, interfere with the blood supply to the bone. Without a steady source of blood, bone tissue begins to die. This causes significant bone pain and weakens the bone.
- Infection: If an infection originates in or spreads to the bones, it can cause a serious condition known as osteomyelitis. This infection of the bone can kill bone cells and cause bone pain.
- Leukemia: Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow. Bone marrow is found in most bones and is responsible for the production of bone cells. People with leukemia often experience bone pain, especially in the legs.
What increases my risk for bone pain?
There are many risk factors for Bone Pain, such as:
- Aging: The risk increases with age.
- Genetics: Some people inherit a tendency to develop bone pain.
- Occupational hazards: If your job includes tasks that place repetitive stress on your bone, you stand a higher risk.
- Sedentary lifestyle;
Diagnosis & treatment
The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.
How is bone pain diagnosed?
A doctor needs to identify the pain’s underlying cause to recommend treatment. Treating the underlying cause can drastically reduce or eliminate your pain.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history. Common questions include:
- Where is the pain located?
- When did you first experience the pain?
- Is the pain getting worse?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
Your doctor may order blood tests to look for vitamin deficiencies or cancer markers. Blood tests may also help your doctor detect infections and adrenal gland disorders that can interfere with bone health.
Bone X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans can help your doctor evaluate the affected area for injuries, bone lesions, and tumors within the bone.
Urine studies can be used to detect abnormalities within the bone marrow, including multiple myeloma.
In some cases, your doctor will need to run multiple tests to rule out certain conditions and to diagnose the exact cause of your bone pain.
How is bone pain treated?
When the doctor has determined the cause of the bone pain, they’ll start treating the underlying cause. They may advise you to rest the affected area as much as possible. They’ll likely prescribe you a pain reliever for moderate to severe bone pain.
If your doctor is unsure of the cause and suspects an infection, they’ll start you on antibiotics. Take the full course of the medication, even if your symptoms go away within a few days. Corticosteroids are also commonly used to reduce inflammation.
The treatment options for bone pain include:
- Pain relievers: Pain relievers are among the most commonly prescribed medications to reduce bone pain, but they don’t cure the underlying condition. Over-the-counter treatments such as ibuprofen (Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used. Prescription medications such as Paracetamol or morphine may be used for moderate or severe pain.
- Antibiotics: If you have a bone infection, your doctor may prescribe powerful antibiotics to kill the germ that’s causing the infection. These antibiotics may include ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, or vancomycin.
- Nutritional supplements: People who have osteoporosis need to restore their calcium and vitamin D levels. Your doctor will give you nutritional supplements to treat the mineral deficiency. Supplements are available in liquid, pill, or chewable form.
- Cancer treatments: Bone pain caused by cancer is difficult to treat. The doctor will need to treat the cancer to relieve the pain. Common cancer treatments include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy (which can increase bone pain). Bisphosphonates are a type of medication that help prevent bone damage and bone pain in people with metastatic bone cancer. Opiate pain relievers may also be prescribed.
- Surgery: You may need surgery to remove parts of bone that have died due to infection. Surgery may also be required to re-set broken bones and remove tumors caused by cancer. Reconstructive surgery may be used in severe cases where joints can be replaced or substituted.
Lifestyle changes & home remedies
What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage bone pain?
The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Bone Pain:
- Maintaining a healthy exercise plan;
- Getting enough calcium and vitamin D;
- Drinking only in moderation;
- Avoid smoking;
- Avoiding injuries that lead to bone pain: try to prevent falls by keeping your; floors clutter-free and watching for loose rugs or poor lighting, be careful when going up or down the stairs;
- Wearing proper protective gear during sporting activities, especially contact sports like football or boxing.
If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Bone Pain. http://www.healthline.com/health/bone-pain#Overview1. Accessed November 6, 2016
Bone pain or tenderness. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003180.htm. Accessed November 6, 2016
Review Date: January 4, 2017 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017