Bone pain or tenderness is aching or other discomfort in one or more bones.
Aches and pains in bones; Pain - bones
Bone pain is seen less commonly than joint pain and muscle pain . The source of bone pain may be obvious, as in a fracture following an accident. Or it may be more subtle, such as cancer that spreads (metastasizes ) to the bone.
Whatever the source, bone pain should always be taken seriously. Seek medical attention any time you have bone pain.
Bone pain can occur with many injuries or conditions:
- Cancer in the bones (primary malignancy)
- Cancer that has spread to the bones (metastatic malignancy)
- Disruption of blood supply (as in sickle cell anemia )
- Infected bone (osteomyelitis )
- Injury (trauma)
- Loss of mineralization (osteoporosis )
- Toddler fracture (a type of stress fracture that occurs in toddlers)
For unexplained bone pain, see your health care provider.
Call your health care provider if:
Take any bone pain or tenderness very seriously. Contact your health care provider if you have any unexplained bone pain.
What to expect at your health care provider's office:
Your health care provider will ask you about your medical history and perform a physical exam.
Medical history questions may include:
- Location of the pain
- Is the pain in the forearms, hands, lower legs, or feet (distal extremities)?
- Is the pain in the main part of the arm or leg?
- Is the pain in the heels (calcaneal pain)?
- Time and pattern of the pain
- When did you first notice the pain (at what age did the pain begin)?
- How long have you had the pain?
- Is it getting worse?
- What other symptoms do you have?
Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:
Depending on the cause of the pain, your doctor may prescribe:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Laxatives (if you develop constipation during prolonged bed rest)
- Pain relievers
For osteoporosis treatment, see the article on osteoporosis .
Tamisiea DF. Radiologic aspects of orthopedic diseases. In: Mercier LR, ed. Practical Orthopedics. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 16.
Coleman RE, Holen I. Bone metastases. In: Abeloff MD, Armitage JO, Niederhuber JE, Kastan MB, McKena WG, eds. Clinical Oncology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 57.
|Review Date: 5/2/2009|
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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