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Patient Education - Lung Cancer Program at UCLA

Educating yourself about lung cancer:

Signs and symptoms: Bone pain or tenderness

Bone pain or tenderness

Definition

Bone pain or tenderness involves aching or other discomfort in one or more bones.

Alternative Names

Aches and pains in bones; Pain - bones

Considerations

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 more subtle, such as cancer that metastasizes (spreads) to the bone.

Whatever the source, bone pain should always be taken seriously. You should seek medical attention any time you experience bone pain.

Causes

Bone pain can be caused by many injuries or conditions:

  • Trauma (injury)
  • Toddler fracture (a type of stress fracture peculiar to toddlers)
  • Overuse
  • Infection
  • Primary malignancy (cancer in the bones)
  • Metastatic malignancy (cancer that has spread to the bones)
  • Loss of mineralization (osteoporosis)
  • Disruption of blood supply (as in sickle cell anemia)
  • Leukemia
  • Osteomyelitis

Home Care

For unexplained bone pain, see your health care provider.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Any bone pain or tenderness should be taken very seriously. Contact your health care provider if you have any unexplained bone pain.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

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 has the pain been present?
    • Is it getting worse?
  • What other symptoms are also present?

Diagnostic tests that may be performed include:

  • Blood studies (such as CBC, blood differential)
  • CT scan
  • Hormone level studies
  • Pituitary and adrenal gland function studies
  • Urine studies
  • Bone x-rays, including a bone scan

Antibiotics, cortisone drugs, pain relievers, hormones, and laxatives (if constipation develops during prolonged bed rest) may be prescribed, depending on the cause of the bone pain.

Calcium, vitamin D supplements, estrogen, or other medications may be prescribed for osteoporosis.


Review Date: 2/23/2006
Reviewed By: Kevin B. Freedman, MD, MSCE, Sports Medicine, Orthopaedic Specialists, BrynMawr, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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