What Are the Different Causes of Bone Pain?

A diagram of the anatomy of a bone.
A broken bone may cause severe bone pain.
A sling may be used to immobilize the painful, injured body part.
Article Details
  • Written By: M. DePietro
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 20 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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There are several causes of bone pain, including injuries, fractures, and infection. The cause of bone pain can be from something minor, such as over use, or from a serious condition medical condition such as cancer. Occasionally a rare condition, such as Paget’s disease can cause bone tenderness.

Bone pain from cancer may be from a malignancy, which started in the bone, or cancer that has spread from its original site to the bone. The pain may be from damage to the bone itself or surrounding nerves or bone tissue. Bones may become weak due to certain cancers or cancer treatments, which may lead to fractures and pain. Certain medications used for cancer treatment, such as hormone therapy and chemotherapy may also cause pain in the bones as a side effect.

Fractures to the bone are a common cause of pain in the bone. Although many times it is obvious a fracture has occurred, small, stress fractures may go undiagnosed for a while. Small cracks may develop in the bones due to repeated stress on a bone, which can also cause pain.

Other causes of bones pains include arthritis, which is a condition that causes inflammation to the joints, though it may also cause bone pain in some people. Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to become weak. Although bone pain is not a common symptom of the condition, it can occur.


Some causes of pain in the bones may be easy to diagnose, such as a broken bone. Other times it may take several medical tests to determine a diagnosis. The first step to determine the causes of pain will be a physical and medical history. A bone pain sufferer's doctor will likely ask when the pain started, how severe it is, what exacerbates it and if anything relieves the pain.

Blood tests may also be ordered to rule out infection or check for cancers, such as leukemia, which can cause bone pain. X-rays will likely be recommended to check for fractures. Additional tests ordered may include a CT scan or MRI.

Treatment for bone pain depends on the cause. Some fractures may require surgery. If pain is caused by a bone infection, antibiotics will likely be needed. Painful bones due to cancer may be treated with chemotherapy, surgery or radiation therapy. Certain types of pain may respond to steroids, which reduce inflammation. Over the counter pain medication or prescription narcotic pain medication may also be given to reduce discomfort.


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