Bone Pain & Tenderness

What causes bone pain?

The term “bone pain” refers to a penetrating and often very deep pain in the bones. It is usually worse at night when the patient moves the affected limb.

Bone pain, achiness, or tenderness is a common problem. It happens mainly in older people and in some cases, in middle-aged persons. As you get older, your body becomes subjected to so many changes. The density and size of the bone decrease as a person become less active. This puts the affected individual at risk of bone fractures and overuse injury.

Although the major causes of bone pain may be an injury to the bone or decreased bone density, bone pain could also indicate an underlying medical condition. Bone tenderness or bone pain could also be caused by an infection to the bone, a cut in blood supply to the bone, or cancer.

These medical conditions should be treated as an emergency. If you have bone pain, especially one that you cannot explain, then see your doctor as soon as you can. He or she will examine you and help you find out why.

Bone pain
Photo Credit: Medical News Today

What are the causes of bone pain?

So many conditions may contribute to the onset of bone pain. These include:

  • A break or fracture of the bone
  • Frequent use of the bone or repetitive movement injury
  • Hormonal deficiency, in the case of menopause
  • Cancer of the bone
  • Infection
  • Leukemia
  • A disruption in blood supply (as in the case of sickle cell anemia)
  • Metastatic malignancy.

There are other possible causes of bone pain. Osteoporosis is an example. It is characterized by a reduction in bone mass below the normal level.

Factors that cause a decrease in bone density include hormonal changes, age, and reduced physical activity. These increase the risk of developing fractures and ultimately experiencing bone pain. If you experience pains in the bone for reasons that you cannot explain, or you’ve had a history of cancer, then you should see your doctor.

How is bone pain diagnosed?

Before making a diagnosis, your doctor will ask for your medical history. This includes conditions that you may have been diagnosed in the past and the details of your bone pain. Among these are:

  • The exact point where you experience the pain
  • When you began feeling the pain
  • The intensity of the pain. Is it on the high side or is it decreasing?
  • Does the pain intensity changes with daily activity?
  • What other symptoms are you experiencing?

Depending on the answers, as well as a comprehensive physical examination, your doctor will then ask for some tests that may include:

  • An X-ray of the affected bone (this will help to find out whether you’ve got fractures or breaks)
  • An MRI or CT scan of the affected area. By this, your doctor can know whether you have tumors or any other defects.
  • Urine tests
  • Blood tests
  • Hormonal tests
  • Tests of the adrenal gland and the pituitary gland.

Treatment

The plan of treatment is based on the diagnosis. If the patient has any breaks or fractures, these will be treated. You may have to do a long-term treatment that is specific to your diagnosis if it is discovered that you have some underlying medical condition, like cancer or osteoporosis.

Some medications that may be prescribed for your treatment include:

  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Antibiotics
  • Pain relievers
  • Hormones (for those with a hormonal imbalance)

People with cancer may be subjected to other forms of treatment including massage, relaxation techniques, and acupuncture.

Regular exercise or physical therapy may help to boost your stamina and strength, while also helping to increase your muscle mass. However, you must ensure that your doctor approves of any exercise regimen that you plan to undertake.

The following exercise help to alleviate bone pain from their causes (as specified):

Low back pain

Swimming, stretching, bicycling, walking, and light strength training.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis causes a reduction in bone density. It makes the bone weak and brittle. The osteoporosis patient has a very high risk of bone fractures. Frequent exercises can help to build up the bones.

Some recommended forms of exercise include climbing the stairs, walking, dancing, running the treadmill, and bicycling.

Osteoarthritis

People who have arthritis may not feel the need to engage in exercise. But that’s not a good idea. Exercise makes your joints more flexible and reduces pain. You can engage in exercises such as bicycling, swimming, walking, and stretching.

Do not engage in exercises that stress the joints, like aerobics, competitive sports, and running.

Joint replacement

If your joint has been replaced in recent times, then you should avoid stressing it. You may do much better exercises like swimming and bicycling.

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