Pain in the bones

, medical expert
Last reviewed: 27.11.2021

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Bone pain is one of the most debilitating side effects of various diseases - from osteoarthrosis to cancer, or the result of trauma. Each of these diseases has its own symptoms and causes, and each requires immediate medical attention.

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Causes of bone pain

Bone pain can be the result of a bone tumor. Pain occurs with tumor infiltrates of skeletal structures. A tumor can compress surrounding blood vessels, nerves and soft tissues, or can activate nociceptors (pain receptors) located on this site.

Pain in the bones can also be the result of compression of tissues caused by fibrosis (tissue swelling) after the patient has undergone radiation therapy. The main source of bone pain in cancer patients can be pathological fracture and osteoclasts - tumor cells caused by bone resorption. This condition contributes to the loss of bone mass and, at the same time, provokes the tumor to increase in size.

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What is osteoporosis?

Osteoporosis, which literally means "porous bones", is a progressive bone disease that makes bones weak, permeable. The pain may be troubling due to a sudden fracture after a fall or, in some cases, even because of a cough or a simple bend of the limb. These fractures often affect the condition of the hips, wrist or spine, but they can occur in any bone. Because osteoporosis does not have symptoms or pains at an early stage, a fracture may be the first sign that a person is very sick.

Although osteoporosis is often perceived as a disease that affects mainly women, one in four men over the age of 50 also suffers fractures due to osteoporosis, according to the National Institute of Arthritis, musculoskeletal and skin diseases. Half of all women over 50 years old are breaking bones because of this disease. Osteoporosis affects about 8 million women and 2 million men.

Symptoms of osteoporosis:

Types of Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is primarily associated with age, but in some cases it is caused by other diseases, as well as certain medications and lifestyle. Types of osteoporosis include:

Primary osteoporosis

Primary osteoporosis is caused by age-related loss of bone mass, when it outstrips new bone formation or decreased function of the reproductive glands in the postmenopausal period of women and elderly men. Primary osteoporosis is found in more than 95 percent of cases in women and about 80 percent in men.

Secondary Osteoporosis

Secondary osteoporosis can be caused by various causes, including drugs or chronic diseases and conditions. Common diseases that can contribute to the development of osteoporosis include the following:

  • chronic kidney disease
  • gluten disease
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • hyperthyroidism
  • cystic fibrosis

Medications that can trigger the development of osteoporosis include chronic steroids, anticonvulsant drugs, and excessive use of hormone therapy drugs for thyroid disorders. Low intake of calcium and vitamin D at a low level can also contribute to the development of osteoporosis.

Tumors of bones

When cells divide improperly and uncontrollably, they can form excess mass or part of the tissue. This one-time piece of tissue is called a tumor. Tumors are also formed in the middle of the bones. As the tumor grows, its abnormal tissue can dislodge healthy tissues.

Some tumors are benign. Benign tumors of bones do not spread to other parts of the body, and can hardly cause death, but they can be dangerous and require treatment. Benign tumors can grow and contract healthy bone tissues .

Other types of cancer can be malignant, that is cancerous. Malignant bone tumors can cause cancer, which spreads throughout the body.


  • Section of body with affected bone hot to the touch
  • High fever fever
  • Fatigue
  • General weakness
  • Pain in the bones

If the tumor turned out to be benign, in the long run, with proper treatment, everything will be fine. Nevertheless, a benign tumor of a bone too can grow or turn to malignant, therefore regular inspections of the doctor are necessary for you.


Hypercalcemia is a condition in which there is too much calcium in the blood. Calcium performs important functions, such as helping to keep bones healthy. However, this disease can cause too many problems. Hypercalcemia in humans happens rarely. This occurs in less than one percent of people, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


  • Deformation of the spine.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Vomiting.
  • Changes in the work of the intestine.
  • Pain in the bones.

Paget's disease

Paget's disease - the so-called deforming osteitis, is a chronic disease that affects the condition of the skeleton. Paget's disease usually affects the elderly. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), this condition is observed in three to four percent of those over the age of 50.

With this disease, occurs with abnormal formation of bones. The new bone becomes larger in size, weakens and is usually deformed.

Paget's disease can affect any part of the skeleton. It can be only one or two parts of the skeleton, or this disease can be widespread. The hands, spine, skull, pelvis and leg bones, as a rule, suffer from this disease.

Doctors do not know what causes Paget's disease. Genetic and viral factors can play a role here, but further research is required. Although there are no known preventive measures that can be taken in this case in a qualitative way, a diet containing sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D, as well as regular exercise, can promote bone health.

When symptoms appear, they may include:

  • pain in the bones;
  • stiffness of the joints;
  • fractures of bones;
  • deformities of the legs or skull;
  • loss of hearing;
  • compression of the nerve and sensory problems due to enlarged bones.


Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer that usually develops in the tibia next to the knee, the femur near the knee or the upper arm bone near the shoulder. This is the most common type of bone cancer in children.

Osteosarcoma tends to develop along with growth spikes in early adolescence. The risk of a tumor increases just during a period of rapid growth of bones.

This type of cancer is more common in boys than in girls. This is also more common in tall children and African Americans (ACS research, 2012). In children, the average age of osteosarcoma is 15 years. Osteosarcoma also occurs in adults over the age of 60 years and in patients who have undergone chemotherapy. People with heredity for cancer and those diagnosed with retinoblastoma, retinal cancer, are subject to a higher incidence of sarcoma.

Symptoms of osteosarcoma

They vary depending on the location of the tumor. Common signs of this type of cancer include:

  • pain in the bones during movement, at rest or when lifting objects;
  • fractures of bones;
  • swelling;
  • redness;
  • lameness;
  • limitation of mobility of joints.


Rickets is a nutritional disorder that can develop if you do not get enough vitamin D, calcium or phosphate. Rickets leads to poor functioning of the plate of bone growth (bone edge growth), softening and loosening of bones, growth retardation, and, in severe cases, deformations of the skeleton.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate from your intestines. You can get vitamin D from the food you eat, it can be milk, eggs and fish, but your body and itself produces vitamin under the influence of sunlight.

Deficiency of vitamin D makes it difficult to maintain a sufficiently high level of calcium and phosphate in the body. When this happens, your body produces hormones that cause the production of calcium and phosphate to release them to support bones. When your bones lack these minerals, they become weak and soft.

Rickets is most common among children aged 6 to 24 months. Children are at the greatest risk of developing rickets, because they are constantly growing. Children can not get enough vitamin D if they live in an atmosphere with little sunlight, they have a dark code, they do not drink dairy products, or follow a vegetarian diet. In some cases, rickets is a hereditary disease.


  • Pain in the hand.
  • Weakness and vulnerability in the bone.
  • Low growth.
  • Deformation of the spine.
  • Pain in the bones.
  • Osteomyelitis.

Bone infection, also called osteomyelitis, can occur when bacteria or fungi enter the bone.

In children, infections of the bone are most common with long bones of the hands and feet, but also in adults they usually appear in the region of the hips, spine and legs.

Bone infections can appear suddenly or develop over a long period of time. If not properly treated, bone infections can damage the bones.

The nature of bone pain

Severe bone pain often occurs in more than 65% of patients with bone metastases. The most common places of pain of the affected are the pelvis, hips, skull and vertebrae. The patient often describes the pains as aching, but some patients experience short, shooting pains that are pulled from the torso to the limbs. Movements usually intensify the pain.

Bony pain can signal a progression of the disease, new infections or complications due to treatment. Pain is a reliable indicator of early complications - it can be metastases, osteoporosis, hypercalcemia, fractures and compression of the spinal cord.

These circumstances not only negatively affect the patient's quality of life, but in some cases can provoke a fatal outcome, which is not due to metastases, but solely due to bones and skeletal complications.

Methods for diagnosis of bone pain

When a patient complains of pain in the bones, this requires confirmation of the diagnosis, usually by radiographic methods, but by the name of the X-ray of the bones. Conventional X-ray film can adequately detect typical lesions with metastases, but it is not sensitive enough to detect certain complications.

In these cases, radionuclide scintigraphy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are the preferred diagnostic tools.

Who should I contact if you have bone pain?

As you can see, the pain in the bones can be caused by various diseases. If you feel this pain, you should definitely consult a doctor for diagnosis and timely treatment.

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