The conditions that cause bone pain are often age-related, ranging from the pain associated with growth to the heightened risk of injury and the degeneration of bone due to ageing.
Bone Pain And Age
The age of the patient is an important factor when considering the severity and possible causes of bone pain. Different causes are more prevalent at different ages.
Congenital Conditions That Might Cause Bone Pain
Congenital conditions are present at birth or develop during fetal development in the mother's womb. It can be inherited genetically or result from environmental factors that affect fetal development.
One congenital condition that can cause bone pain is osteogenesis imperfecta - also known as brittle bone disease. It is a genetic disorder that affects the body's ability to produce strong bones. People with osteogenesis imperfecta are at an increased risk of fractures, even from minor injuries, and may experience bone pain as a result. Osteogenesis imperfecta can be diagnosed at any age, from prenatal diagnosis to adulthood.
Growing pains are a type of benign musculoskeletal pain that typically affect children between the ages of 3 and 12. They are most commonly felt in the legs, particularly in the calves, and often occur in the evening or at night. Growing pains are generally not associated with any serious underlying medical condition, and are considered to be a normal part of a child's development.
The exact cause of growing pains is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the rapid growth and development of the child's bones and muscles. Some children may be more prone to experiencing growing pains than others, and certain factors such as fatigue, stress, and changes in activity level may exacerbate the pain.
Growing pains typically feel like a dull ache or throbbing sensation in the affected area. The pain is often described as being intermittent and may come and go over the course of several hours. Growing pains are usually not accompanied by any visible signs of swelling or inflammation, and they typically do not interfere with a child's ability to move around and play normally during the day.
Children are active and love to play, so they are prone to injuries, sometimes resulting in a bone fracture or joint dislocation. While some bone pain is common in growing children, there are certain signs and symptoms that may indicate a more serious underlying problem. A parent should worry about a child's bone pain if it is severe, persistent, or accompanied by swelling, redness, or warmth around the affected area, bruising or discolouration, difficulty moving the affected limb or joint, numbness, tingling, fever or chills.
Adolescents are typically considered to be individuals between the ages of 10 to 19 years old. This age range is characterized by significant physical, cognitive, and social changes as individuals transition from childhood to adulthood.
Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition that affects the joints, most commonly the knee, ankle, or elbow, but can also affect other joints. It occurs when a piece of bone and cartilage in the joint separates from the surrounding bone due to a lack of blood flow. This can lead to pain, swelling, and difficulty moving the joint.
Osteochondritis dissecans is most commonly seen in children and adolescents who are active in sports that involve running, jumping, and pivoting movements. It can also occur in adults who have had previous injuries or trauma to the affected joint.
Scoliosis is a condition where the spine curves sideways in an abnormal manner. The spine normally has some natural curves, but in scoliosis, the spine can curve to the left or right, causing a "C" or "S" shape. This condition can occur in any part of the spine but is most common in the chest and lower back regions. Scoliosis can affect people of all ages, but it is most commonly diagnosed in children and adolescents. In some cases, scoliosis can be mild and require no treatment, while in other cases it can be severe and require medical intervention, such as bracing or surgery.
Osteoporosis is a medical condition characterized by a loss of bone density and mass, resulting in weak and brittle bones that are more susceptible to fractures. It typically develops over many years and often has no symptoms until a fracture occurs.
Osteoporosis affects both men and women, but postmenopausal women are at higher risk due to the sudden drop in estrogen levels that accompanies menopause. Other risk factors for osteoporosis include older age, low body weight, a family history of the disease, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and certain medical conditions and medications that can cause bone loss.
Arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation and pain in the joints of the body. There are many types of arthritis, but the most common ones are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is caused by wear and tear on the joints over time, while rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the joints.
Osteoarthritis is most commonly diagnosed in people over the age of 50. However, it can also affect younger individuals, particularly those who have experienced joint injuries or have a family history of the condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis can occur at any age, but it most commonly develops between the ages of 30 and 50. It affects women more often than men. However, it can also affect children and older adults.
Bone cancer is a rare type of cancer that originates in the bone tissue. The type of bone pain caused by bone cancer can vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer. Generally, the pain caused by bone cancer is deep and aching, and it may be worse at night or with activity. The affected bone may also be tender to the touch, and there may be swelling or a lump in the affected area. Other possible symptoms may include fatigue, weight loss, and bone fractures.
Compression fractures are a type of bone fracture that typically occur in the spine. They are often caused by osteoporosis, making them more susceptible to fractures. Compression fractures occur when the vertebrae in the spine collapse or become compressed, causing the bone to lose height.
Compression fractures can cause severe pain in the back, especially in the middle or lower back. The pain may worsen with movement and may be accompanied by muscle spasms, stiffness, and difficulty standing up straight. In severe cases, compression fractures can also cause a loss of height, a hunched posture, and even difficulty breathing if the fractured bone puts pressure on the lungs.
Paget's disease is a condition where the normal cycle of bone renewal and repair is disrupted, leading to the formation of new bone that is softer and weaker than normal bone. This can cause the affected bones to become enlarged, misshapen, and prone to fractures.
The abnormal bone growth and remodelling can lead to bone pain, deformities, and a range of other symptoms, depending on the location of the affected bones. Paget's disease can also cause nerve compression, leading to numbness, tingling, or weakness in the limbs.
The bone pain associated with Paget's disease is typically described as deep, aching, and constant, and it may worsen at night or with physical activity. The pain can be located in the affected bone(s) and may radiate to nearby areas. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all, and the condition may only be detected by chance during an X-ray or other imaging test.
When To Be Concerned About Bone Pain
Age is an important factor to consider when evaluating the severity and possible causes of bone pain. In general, it is a good idea to consult your doctor if the bone pain is persistent and is associated with other symptoms such as swelling, discolouration, fatigue and weight loss.