Osteoporosis leads to weak or brittle bones, which can break even with the mild stress of day-to-day activities. Microscopic fractures can occur as the bone thins, making the bone vulnerable to a major fracture. Osteoporosis is often associated with pain, though in some cases pain may be absent. The pain may not be directly related to a fracture.
Causes of Osteoporosis Pain
Causes of Osteoporosis pain include:
- Compression fractures in the spine causing back pain with standing, twisting or bending
- Major fractures due to osteoporosis
- Microscopic fractures, causing some people to experience bone pain
- Muscle spasms as the body tries to support the weak bones and joints
Diagnosis of Osteoporosis Pain
Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical examination to identify the source of your pain. X-rays and other diagnostics tests are performed to view your bones, identify fractures, and determine bone density. Depending on your condition and degree of pain, an individualized treatment plan is formulated to help you find relief.
Treatment for Osteoporosis Pain
Treatment for Osteoporosis pain may include:
- Over-the-counter pain medications provide relief for most people, but prolonged use may cause stomach irritation, bleeding, or liver problems.
- Prescription pain medications can provide more effective pain relief but should only be used short-term.
- Antidepressant medication can help people deal with chronic pain.
Heat and ice: Stiffness may be treated with hot packs or a warm shower. Cold packs can help relieve aches and reduce swelling.
- Physical therapy: Movement and exercise are recommended, though it may be difficult with osteoporotic pain. Inactivity can make pain worse. A physical therapist can help you with a safe and effective program.
- Braces and supports: A back brace may be recommended while treating a spinal fracture. It can relieve pain and protect the area while healing.
- Other treatments: Pain and tension associated with osteoporosis may also be treated with massage therapy, acupuncture, and other treatments.
To help manage chronic pain, psychological intervention may be necessary. The following techniques are usually recommended
- Guided imagery: In this type of mind-body treatment, the pain felt is diminished by focusing your attention on positive phrases or enjoyable imagery.
- Relaxation training: This is a deep-breathing technique that helps relieve muscle tension, reducing aches and pains.
- Biofeedback: This is a relaxation method that helps relieve pain by the use of a special machine that helps you understand and exert control over your body’s heart rate and muscle tension.
- Talk therapy: This is a therapy session to help you deal with emotional problems and depression associated with osteoporotic pain. Your therapist can suggest methods to relieve emotional stress to help you manage your pain better.
Surgery may be recommended to treat osteoporosis-related fractures and pain if conservative treatments do not provide relief. Compression fractures of the spine can be treated by procedures such as vertebroplasty and kyphoplasty, which use bone cement to stabilize the fractures.