Bone pain, while not as common as joint or muscle pain, can be a source of chronic pain. An underlying disease such as osteoporosis can weaken bones and contribute to painful fractures. If you are having bone pain and aren’t sure why, it’s important to take this pain seriously and make an appointment with us today.
There are several options for managing osteoporosis with both clinical care and self care you can do at home.
Clinical care will start by getting to the source of the pain. To determine the right course of treatment, your care team will ask the following questions:
- Have you been told that you are at a high risk for fractures?
- Have you had any fractures before?
- How long have you been in pain?
- Are you taking any calcium or other supplements to prevent osteoporosis?
Your team will also do a complete exam, including a painless bone mineral density scan. They will look at two factors: your ‘T’ score, which compares your score with healthy, younger women and a ‘Z’ score, comparing your score with others of your age. A negative number does not automatically mean you have osteoporosis, just thinner bones than average. However, the higher your negative score the more likely you experience bone fractures. If your score is below -2.5, you most likely have osteoporosis.
Treatment options for osteoporosis include antiresorptive therapies that can actually increase bone strength. These are novel new treatments many patients respond well to and find their risk of fractures greatly decreases. In the case of a fracture from osteoporosis, strengthening material can often be delivered right to the problem area to stabilize the bone and ease pain.
Self care at home takes steps to improve bone health to prevent bone pain and fractures. Bones are often overlooked when it comes to conditioning and care. Remember – bones are living tissues with blood vessels and nerves, continually producing blood cells. As with other tissue, bones will break down and renew but the aging process slows down this rebuilding process. Most people start to lose bone density around age 30.
Ensure an adequate nutrition. Calcium is the nutrient most associated with bone health, but calcium doesn’t work independently. A diet low in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and phosphorus will negatively affect bone density. Your body uses calcium for many functions in addition to the development of strong bones and teeth – in blood clotting, blood pressure regulation, muscle contraction and nerve transmission. A very tight calcium level is maintained in your bloodstream because of these essential roles. If you do not have adequate calcium intake, your body will take it from your bones.
Weight-bearing exercise encourages the body to create stronger bones. Just as muscles grow stronger when used, bones become denser when you place demands on them. Weightlifting and weight-bearing exercises are the most effective. Check with your doctor or physical therapist for weight-bearing exercises that are appropriate for you.
If you are concerned about the health of your bones, make an appointment today for a painless bone density scan (currently offered at our Michigan location). This test helps you understand your risk of developing osteoporosis by measuring how many grams of calcium and other bone minerals are present. The team can then help you make choices about how to improve your bone density and prevent future fractures and bone weakness.