Bone pain or aching in the bones does not occur as often as pain in the joints or sore, aching muscles. Sometimes it can be easy to determine the reason for pain in the bones, such as a broken bone that causes severe pain. Other times, the reason for bone pain is not so obvious, such as in the case of bone cancer.
Bone pain causes
Several conditions can cause bone pain, in addition to fractures and cancer that has either started in the bone (primary malignancy) or spread to the bones from another location (metastatic cancer). The bone pain causes include:
- Overuse injury
- Interruption in the supply of blood (sickle cell anemia)
- Traumatic injury
- Infection of the bone (osteomyelitis)
How will my appointment with the doctor go?
If you are experiencing pain in the bones, you should be evaluated by your healthcare provider. You will be asked questions about your health history and other medical conditions you have had in the past or are currently being treated for. Your physician will also ask questions about your pain, such as:
- When did you first start having bone pain?
- Have you recently been injured?
- Has your bone pain changed in location, intensity, or in other ways since it started?
- What other symptoms are you having?
- Does your bone pain interrupt your sleep or your ability to work or go to school?
Your healthcare provider will complete a physical examination and, depending on the results of the exam and your medical history, the following studies might be recommended to help accurately diagnose the cause of your bone pain:
- Blood tests
- Tests to check your hormonal levels
- Urine tests
- Studies of your adrenal and pituitary glands
- X-rays, an MRI or CT scan or a bone scan
Bone pain treatment
Treatment for pain in the bones varies depending on the underlying cause. It may include treating an underlying cancerous condition, anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, hormonal therapy, and medications for pain.
Any unexplained bone pain should be checked on by your healthcare provider. If you have bone pain, or if your child complains of pain in his or her bones, notify your doctor or healthcare professional and make an appointment for an evaluation. The sooner a condition is identified, the more likely it is that the most beneficial bone pain treatment can be started.