Can Osteoporosis Cause Pain?

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes the bones to become thin and brittle, as the process that creates bone tissue slows down and calcium and other minerals that provide density are leeched from the bone. This decrease in density and mass makes the bone more prone to fracture and deformation, as well as loss of height and curvature of the spine.

Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease, because in many cases symptoms go unnoticed or undiagnosed until a fracture occurs. However, certain signs like postural changes can alert patients to their condition, or cause painful symptoms that do. When spinal vertebrae weaken as a result of the disease, they compress, causing the spine to curve; in some cases, they develop miniscule fractures. Aside from reducing a person’s height, this also leads to back pain: it’s usually a persistent aching, or it may be a sharp pain that worsens when walking or in motion.  Muscles may spasm or become painful as nerves become pinched. The pain can increase during, or make it difficult to, twist and bend; it may also be relieved somewhat when lying down.

One reason this pain may go misdiagnosed or untreated is because osteoporosis generally affects people as they age, so they may attribute it to aging. However, osteoporotic pain is generally chronic or much sharper than normal aging pain, and back pain in particular tends to be more severe.

The decreased density in bones makes them far more susceptible to fracturing at the smallest trauma – things as commonplace as sneezing, coughing, lifting objects, or bending over can cause a break. Aside from the typical pain of a broken bone, these fractures take longer to heal in osteoporotic bones because of their weakened condition. Walking and standing can become far more difficult and painful, especially because hips are a common source of breakage.


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