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Bone pain or tenderness

  • Definition
    • Bone pain or tenderness is aching or other discomfort in one or more bones.

  • Alternative Names
    • Aches and pains in bones; Pain - bones

  • Considerations
    • Bone pain is less common than joint pain and muscle pain. The source of bone pain may be clear, such as from a fracture following an accident. Other causes, such as cancer that spreads (metastasizes) to the bone, may be less obvious.

  • Causes
    • Bone pain can occur with injuries or conditions such as:

      • 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)
      • Infection
      • Injury (trauma)
      • Leukemia
      • Loss of mineralization (osteoporosis)
      • Overuse
      • Toddler fracture (a type of stress fracture that occurs in toddlers)
  • Home Care
    • See your health care provider if you have bone pain and do not know why it is occurring.

  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Take any bone pain or tenderness very seriously. Contact your provider if you have any unexplained bone pain.

  • What toExpect at Your Office Visit
    • Your provider will ask you about your medical history and do a physical exam.

      Some questions that may be asked include:

      • Where is the pain located?
      • How long have you had pain and when did it start?
      • Is the pain getting worse?
      • Do you have any other symptoms?

      You may have the following tests:

      Depending on the cause of the pain, your provider may prescribe:

      • Antibiotics
      • Anti-inflammatory medicines
      • Hormones
      • Laxatives (if you develop constipation during prolonged bed rest)
      • Pain relievers

      If pain is related to thinning bones, you may need treatment for osteoporosis.

  • References
    • McCormack RG, Lopez CA. Commonly encountered fractures in sports medicine. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 13.

      Weber TJ. Osteoporosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 243.

      Whyte MP. Osteonecrosis, osteosclerosis/hyperostosis, and other disorders of bone. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 248.