Pain is an unpleasant experience resulting from actual or potential tissue damage. Bone pain and tenderness originates from bone. It is common problem among middle aged people. With growing age, human body undergoes vast number of changes.
Reduced bone density and muscle mass are two important changes that occur as elderly individuals become less active. This makes them more prone to bone fracture and overuse injury which is the main cause of bone pain in day to day life.
Bone pain can also develop from serious disease such as bone cancer. Bone infections, reduced supply of blood are few other causes that can give rise to bony tenderness.If you experience bony tenderness, consult your doctor immediately to find the causative pathology.
What Causes Bone Pain Or Tenderness?
There are many diseases that can cause bony tenderness and pain. The outer layer of bone called periosteum is highly sensitive. It is innervated with sensory nerves. Hence in several bone diseases, pain originates from periosteum. Any medical problem in inner most layer of bone called as bone marrow can also trigger pain sensation in bone.
Below are given disease conditions that can cause bone pain and tenderness.
- Bone fracture perhaps if the most common cause of bone pain. Bone fracture is breaking of bone. It can occur due to trauma or as a result of loss of too much of calcium mineral from the bones. The last cause is also known as pathological fracture.
- Severe physical stress.
- Infection especially bacterial infection in bones such as tuberculosis or staphylococcal infection can cause severe pain in the affected bone.
- Pain resulting from bone cancer is intense and unbearable for the patient. Most bone cancers are metastatic tumors. It means the original source of cancer is in other organs such as liver or lungs. The tumor cells pass from blood into the bone and multiply leading to bone tumor.
- Leukemia is a type of blood cancer in the bone marrow. Bony tenderness is common in leukemia.
- Sickle cell anemia although rare has severe bone pain as one of its symptoms.
- Osteoporosis is common cause of bone pain in elderly age. Loss of calcium mineral leads to osteoporosis. Inactivity, hormonal changes in women etc are some of the causes for osteoporosis.
Symptoms & Diagnosis Of Bone Pain And Tenderness
Bone pain is a symptom of several diseases. There are many associated symptoms together with bone pain. The pain can be mild or severe depending on the cause. Along with bone pain, broken bone may have other symptoms such as swelling over the fractured bone, deformity of the affected body part, aggravation of pain with movement and pressure on the area. There is decreased mobility of the fractured bone.
Pain in bone cancer increases in severity as the bone tumor grows. Initially symptoms come and go, but later on pain remains steady and intense. Due to pain, patient is not able to sleep.
For diagnosis of the cause of bone pain, your doctor will take complete medical history. He will examine the site of pain. He may also ask you if movement increases pain.
Depending on the peculiarity of pain, he will recommend certain tests such as X-ray of the bone, MRI or CT scan, bone scan, and blood tests for hormonal study, calcium and vitamin D. He may also recommend complete blood count and other specific tests to rule out leukemia if he suspects marrow cancer.
Alternative Treatment For Bone Pain And Tenderness
Treatment of bone pain is often multidisciplinary. It may involve an orthopedic surgeon, physician and physiotherapist. Once the diagnosis of the disease is made, it becomes easy for relieving bone pain.
- For example some fractures can be treated conservatively with casts while complex fractures may need surgical repair to reduce pain as well as to restore proper alignment and function.
- Anti inflammatory medicines are used to treat mild to moderate bone pain. If bone pain is severe and long standing as in bone cancer, opioid group of medicines are administered to relieve pain.
- Physical therapy, massage, acupressure and mild exercises such as walking, swimming, will ease pain in low back.
- Acupuncture is traditional Chinese medicine. It has regained its place in modern medical wisdom. It emphasizes body’s equilibrium through the balance of ‘yin’ and ‘yan’ forces.
- Hypnosis is also another alternative therapy that is found useful in relieving chronic bone pain.