WHAT IS BONE PAIN?
Bone pain is an extreme soreness, aching, or severe discomfort in one or more bones in the human body. It differs from muscle and joint pain, as bone pain occurs whether the person is moving or not. The discomfort is frequently associated with disorders that alter the bone’s normal function or structure.
Bone pain, tenderness, or achiness is a common concern among those in their forties and fifties. The person’s body changes dramatically as they get older. As they become less active, the muscle size and bone density tend to diminish, which makes the person more prone to overuse injuries and bone fractures.
However, in some cases, the bone ache might be the result of a much bigger problem. It could be caused by a serious medical condition that cannot be overseen, such as an infection, cancer, or an interruption in the blood supply. Therefore, bone ache should not be disregarded, and it is advised to consult a medical specialist in case the pain persists for more than 2 days.
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT CAUSES OF BONE ACHE?
Many conditions can lead to mild or severe bone pain, and here are some of the most common reasons behind it.
- Injury: When a person injures a specific bone after a form of trauma, such as a car accident or a severe fall, they are likely to experience bone pain, even after taking pain killers or treatments. The trauma might cause a bone fracture, which should be treated immediately. Also, repetitive movement injury is a very widespread form of bone pain, as many people injure the same part of their body more than once, which makes it more sensitive over time, and therefore causes more pain.
- Minerals and vitamins deficiency: It is known that specific types of minerals and vitamins, such as Calcium and Vitamin D, are strictly related to bone pain. A deficiency in those nutrients might cause further bone diseases such as osteoporosis, which is defined as a condition in which the bone is reduced below the normal bone size.
- Metastatic malignancy: Any cancer that has spread from different parts of the body to the bones causes extreme bone pain, such as lung cancer, breast cancer, or thyroid cancer.
- Leukemia (or blood cancer): For some people suffering from leukemia, bone pain is the first felt symptom. It happens when cancerous cells gather in the bone marrow and cause extreme pain. This ache can gradually go away after receiving cancer treatment.
- Interruption of blood supply: There are specific conditions that cause interference with the blood supply, which interrupts its spread to the bone. One common condition is called sickle cell anemia. If blood does not steadily flow through blood vessels, tissues degenerate and gradually die, which weakens the bones and causes extreme pain.
- Infection: A bone infection can lead to serious issues, causing pain and discomfort. Osteomyelitis, which is defined by a bone infection, is not very common but can affect adults, as well as children. It can be caused by a broken bone, a bacterium in the blood, or an infected open wound that spreads through the bones.
- Bone Cancer: Although bone cancer is the rarest type of cancer, it still impacts a lot of people. This type is defined by cancer cells originating from the bone itself. It weakens the bones, which makes the person more prone to bone fractures. There are several types of bone cancer such as osteosarcoma, chordoma, and chondrosarcoma.
Some more conditions might cause bone ache such as hormonal change, especially during menopause, lack of physical activity, or post-chemotherapy treatment.
HOW TO DIAGNOSE THE CAUSE OF BONE PAIN?
Some normal bone pain may be individually diagnosed, such as pain caused by a wrong sleeping position or a bad workout movement.
However, it is always advised to get a medical opinion on all types of pains that are felt, especially if this ache lasts long. The doctor takes into consideration many aspects to determine the reason behind bone ache, such as:
- The location of the pain
- The intensity of the pain and whether it is getting worsen
- When the pain startedn
- If the pain changes when the person is doing a specific activityn
- If there are any other symptoms that the person is experiencing along with bone pain
After receiving all the needed information, the doctor might suggest running a blood test to check for any signs of cancer or vitamin deficiencies. This test might also help the doctor detect any infection or gland disorders that might also cause bone pain.
In the case of bone fractures or injuries, an X-ray scan, CT scan, or MRI are needed to check the situation of the bone and evaluate the affected area.
Running a urine test can also be done to check for abnormalities or infections.
HOW TO PREVENT BONE PAIN FROM OCCURRING?
Preventive measures can be taken to alleviate bone pain and prevent it from happening. Bones should remain strong and healthy to fight away any ache that might occur. Some preventions are:
Having an organized exercise plan: As long as the joints are flexible and the bones are active, the body will instantly get healthier, which strengthens the bones.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: When we say maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we mean eating food that is good for the human body, avoiding alcohol and smoking as much as possible, and maintaining an acceptable weight.
Taking the right vitamins and minerals: As previously mentioned, it quickly induces bone pain if the body lacks the necessary vitamins. A regular checkup should be done to determine that the level of vitamins and minerals in the body is regular. As a result, the doctor will prescribe nutritional supplements to treat the deficiency. These supplements may be liquids, pills, or chewable treatments.
Avoiding injuries: Aside from all the mentioned prevention techniques, serious injuries should be avoided as much as possible, such as falling on a loosened rug, or stumbling upon the stairs, or doing contact sports without wearing protective clothing.
HOW TO TREAT BONE PAIN?
Once the reason for the bone pain has been identified, the doctor will address the underlying cause. They may urge the patient to rest the affected area as much as possible. For moderate to severe bone pain, they will most likely prescribe pain medication.
If the doctor is unsure of the cause but suspects an infection, an antibiotic will be prescribed. Even if the symptoms go away in a few days, the patient has to finish the entire course of medication. Inflammation is also routinely treated with corticosteroids.
Here are the treatment options that are suggested in the case of bone pain:
- Pain relievers: Pain killers are one of the most widely given medications for bone pain treatment, but they do not treat the underlying problem. Ibuprofen (Advil) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are two over-the-counter pain relievers that are widely prescribed by doctors. For moderate to severe pain, prescription drugs such as paracetamol or morphine may be given.
- Antibiotics: The doctor may prescribe a strong intravenous antibiotic to ease the pain, as it kills the germ that is causing the unbearable ache.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapy is crucial after the healing of a fracture, especially a serious one. The main aim of physical therapy is to strengthen the bones and keep the muscles and joints flexible. The physical therapist might turn to heat, ice, or massage to treat the pain, and they might suggest an assistive device to prevent falls, such as a cane.
- Surgery: Some infections deeply ruin the bone, which requires the removal of some parts of this specific bone. This operation also fixes the blood flow in the case of osteonecrosis. Other surgeries are done to repair a broken bone, especially in the case of serious fractures. Plus, stabilizing a bone after being diagnosed with cancer is crucial, as it weakens and breaks the bone. So, a necessary surgery is required in this situation.
In many cases, bone issues need time to heal and be treated. Patience is the key during the process of bone treatment and taking into consideration the doctor’s advice is extremely recommended. No physical effort must be done, resting should be mandatory, and immobilizing the affected area is a must to prevent any complications.
Any person going through bone treatment should be well surrounded and supported, to maintain the motivation to carry on with the healing journey.