What Is Bone Pain?
Bone pain is described as extreme tenderness, aching, or other
discomfort in one or more bones. Bone pain differs from muscle and joint pain
because bone pain is present whether you are moving or stationary. The pain is
commonly linked to diseases that affect the normal function or structure of the
What Causes Bone Pain?
Many conditions and events can lead to bone pain. Possible
Injury is a common cause of bone pain. Typically, this pain arises when a
person experiences some form of trauma, like a car accident or a fall. The impact
may break or fracture the bone. Any damage to the bone due to this injury
causes bone pain.
deficiency: Your bones require a variety of minerals and vitamins to stay
strong, including calcium and vitamin D. A deficiency in calcium and vitamin D
leads to a condition known as osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is the most common
type of bone disease (Medline Plus,
2012). Patients suffering from the late stages of osteoporosis often suffer
from bone pain.
cancer. Metastatic cancer is cancer that started somewhere else in the body
but has spread to the bones. Cancers of the breast, lung, thyroid, kidney, and
prostate are among the cancers that commonly spread to bone.
cancer: Bone cancer describes cancer cells that originate in the bone
itself. Bone cancer is much rarer than metastatic bone cancer. Bone cancer can
cause bone pain when the cancer disrupts or destroys the bone’s normal
that disturb blood supply to bones: Some diseases interfere with the blood
supply to the bone. Without a steady source of blood, bone tissue begins to
die. This will cause significant bone pain and weaken the bone. Sickle cell
disease is an example of a condition that disrupts blood supply.
If an infection originates or spreads to the bones, it can cause a serious
condition called osteomyelitis. An infection of the bone can kill bone cells
and cause bone pain.
Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow. Bone marrow is found in most bones and
is responsible for the production of bone cells. Patients with leukemia often
experience bone pain, especially in the legs.
When to See a Doctor
Serious conditions are often the cause of bone pain. Even
mild bone pain may indicate an emergency. If you experience unexplained bone
pain that does not improve within a few days, you should consult your doctor.
You should see a doctor if bone pain is accompanied by weight
loss, decreased appetite, or general fatigue.
You should also see a doctor if your bone pain is the result
of an injury. Direct trauma to the bone that results in a fracture requires
medical treatment. Without proper treatment, bones can heal in incorrect
positions, which can inhibit movement. Trauma also predisposes you to
How Is Bone Pain Diagnosed?
A doctor will seek to identify your pain’s underlying cause in
order to recommend treatment. Treating the underlying cause drastically reduces
or eliminates the 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?
- Are there any other symptoms that accompany the
You may need to undergo other diagnostic tests. Blood tests,
bone X-rays, urine studies, and CT scans can help determine the cause of bone
How Is Bone Pain Treated?
Once the doctor has determined the cause of the bone pain,
you can begin treatment. Treatment options include:
relievers: Pain relievers are among the most commonly prescribed
medications to reduce pain, but they do not cure the underlying condition.
If you are suffering from a bone infection, your doctor may prescribe powerful
antibiotics that can kill the germ causing the infection.
You may need surgery to remove the parts of bone that have died due to
supplements: Patients suffering from osteoporosis need to restore their
calcium and vitamin D levels. Your doctor will give you nutritional supplements
that should treat the mineral deficiency.
- Cancer treatments:
Bone pain caused by cancer is difficult to treat. The doctor will need to treat
the cancer in order to relieve the pain. Common cancer treatments include
surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Bisphosphates are a type of
medication that helps prevent bone damage and bone pain in patients with
metastatic bone cancer.