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There are 18 possible causes of bone pain

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Bone Pain or Tenderness

Bone pain, tenderness, or achiness is a common problem, particularly among those who are middle aged or older. As you age, your body undergoes many changes. Muscle size and bone density generally decrease as you become less active, making you more prone to overuse injury and bone fractures. You can lower your chances of fractures and stress injuries by regularly performing low-impact exercises.

While bone pain is most likely due to decreased bone density or an injury to your bone, it can also be a sign of a serious underlying medical condition. Bone pain or tenderness can be the result of infection, an interruption in the blood supply, or cancer. These conditions require immediate medical attention. If you have unexplained bone pain, do not ignore it. Make an appointment with your doctor to find out why.

Causes of Bone Pain

Bone pain can be caused by a wide variety of conditions, including:

  • a bone fracture (break)
  • overuse or repetitive movement injury
  • hormone deficiency (usually due to menopause)
  • infection
  • bone cancer
  • metastatic malignancy (cancer that has spread from the point of origin)
  • leukemia (cancer of blood cells)
  • interruption in the blood supply (as in sickle cell anemia, for example)

Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bone mass is reduced below what is considered normal. Age, hormonal changes, and lack of physical activity are factors that contribute to decreasing bone density. This can increase your likelihood of developing bone fractures and suffering bone pain.

If you have bone pain for no obvious reason, or if you have previously been treated for cancer, you should consult with your physician.

Diagnosing the Cause of Bone Pain

In addition to your complete medical history, including previously diagnosed conditions, your doctor will want to know the specifics of your bone pain, such as

  • the location of your pain
  • when your pain began
  • the level of pain and whether or not it is increasing
  • if your pain changes with your activities
  • what other symptoms you may have

Depending on the specifics of your pain, as well as a thorough physical examination, additional testing may include

  • X-rays of the bone that hurts (to identify breaks, fractures, and abnormalities)
  • diagnostic imaging including computed tomography (CT) scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or bone scan of the affected area or your entire body (to identify tumors or other abnormalities)
  • blood studies
  • urine studies
  • hormone level studies
  • pituitary and adrenal gland function studies

Treatment for Bone Pain

Treatment will vary according to your diagnosis. Any bone fractures or breaks must be addressed. If you are found to have any underlying conditions, such as osteoporosis or cancer, you will require a long-term treatment plan specific to that diagnosis.

Prescription medications may include

  • drugs to relieve inflammation
  • antibiotics, if you have an infection
  • hormones, if you have a hormone imbalance
  • pain relievers

For patients with cancer, complementary therapies include acupuncture, massage, and relaxation techniques.

Physical therapy or regular exercise can help you to feel better and increase your strength and stamina, while also increasing your bone mass. The following list suggests exercises that might help alleviate bone pain from specific causes:

  • low back pain: Stretching, walking, swimming, bicycling, and light strength training can ease lower back pain.
  • osteoporosis: Osteoporosis causes your bones to lose density and become weak and brittle, increasing your chances of bone fractures. Exercising several times a week can help build strength. Walking, treadmill, climbing stairs, dancing, swimming, and bicycling are recommended. Working with light weights can also help build strength.
  • osteoarthritis: If you have arthritis, it may be tempting to avoid exercise, but that is unwise. Exercise helps to keep your joints flexible and can reduce pain in the long run. A balanced exercise regimen of stretching, walking, swimming, and bicycling can help. Avoid exercises that put stress on your joints, such as running, competitive sports, and aerobics.
  • joint replacement: If you’ve had a total joint replacement, avoid placing too much stress on the joint. Swimming and bicycling are good choices.

Before beginning an exercise regimen for bone pain, check with your doctor. High-impact exercises can aggravate some conditions.

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Possible Causes - Listed in order from the most common to the least.

1

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a bone disease due to calcium loss. As a result the bones lose strength and density. People are usually unaware that they have the condition until they experience a fracture.

Read more »

2

Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. Excessive sweating at night, constant fatigue, weight loss, bone pain, and easy bleeding or bruising are all signs of this disease.

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3

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia is a genetic disease that causes red blood cells to have an abnormal shape, causing blood flow problems. This can lead to tissue damage and pain, as well as enlarged spleen, anemia, and other symptoms.

Read more »

4

Bone Tumor

When cells divide abnormally and uncontrollably, they can form a mass or lump of tissue. This lump is called a tumor. Bone tumors form in your bones. As the tumor grows, abnormal tissue can displace healthy tissue. Som...

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5

Hypercalcemia

Hypercalcemia is a condition in which you have too much calcium in your blood. Serious cases could cause symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, constipation, and weakness.

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6

Lung Cancer Overview

Lung cancer is a cancer that originates in the lungs. Lung cancer often goes undetected in the early stages, since symptoms don

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7

Paget's Disease of the Bone

A typical human skeleton consists of 206 bones. Bones are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. If this process is altered, bones can break down and re-form abnormally and in ways that compromise the integrity o...

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8

Osteosarcoma

Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that tends to develop during growth spurts, typically occurring in the shinbone, thighbone, or upper arm. Some symptoms are swelling and redness.

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9

Rickets

Rickets is a nutritional disorder that can develop if you do not get enough vitamin D, calcium, or phosphate. Rickets leads to poor functioning of a bone’s growth plate (growing edge), softened and weakened bones...

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10

Bone Infection (Osteomyelitis)

A bone infection may occur when bacteria or fungi invade the bone, causing many symptoms, including fever, redness, stiffness, and swelling.

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11

Multiple Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells. Plasma cells are the white blood cells that make antibodies. Multiple myeloma causes groups of abnormal plasma cells to accumulate in the bones. This ca...

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12

Neuroblastoma

The body's nervous system is divided into two main areas: the central nervous system (which includes the brain and the spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system . The sympathetic nervous system , part of th...

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13

Osteomalacia

Osteomalacia is a weakening of the bones due to problems with bone formation or the bone building process. It is not the same as osteoporosis, which is a weakening of living bone that has already been formed and i...

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14

Hyperparathyroidism

Hyperparathyroidism occurs when the parathyroid glands make too much parathyroid hormone (PTH). The parathyroid glands are four pea-sized endocrine glands located in your neck, near or attached to the back of you...

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15

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells rapidly multiply and don't stop reproducing. The disease can develop anywhere in the body. Treatment is based on its location. When it originates in the lungs, it is lung cancer. Ther...

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16

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB) is a potentially fatal contagious disease that can affect almost any part of the body but is mainly an infection of the lungs.

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17

Weils Disease

Weil's disease is a severe form of a bacterial infection known as leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is caused by bacteria from the genus Leptospira. In severe cases, such as in Weil's disease, it can lead to organ failur...

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18

Aspergillosis

Aspergillosis is an infection, allergic reaction, or fungal growth caused by the Aspergillus fungus. The fungus usually grows on decaying vegetation and dead leaves. Being exposed to the fungus does not necessarily mea...

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This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to diagnose.
Please consult a healthcare professional if you have health concerns.
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