Bone Pain: Fatigue, Cold, Cancer and other Causes

Bone Pain: Fatigue, Cold, Cancer and other Causes
Photo source: Getty images

Bone pain and joint pain are common symptoms of various infections, for example, due to influenza (the flu). It occurs when the body temperature rises and during a fever. It is common in osteoporosis. It also occurs as a consequence of cancer that directly affects the bone or another part of the body. It is also present in trauma and when the bone is overloaded.

Bone pain can be felt during growth. Another case is overloading, for example, prolonged standing or pelvic pain after prolonged sitting. An injury will also cause pain.

In injuries, it depends on the mechanism and the force applied. Bumps or fractures are common. Of course, it can signal disease. This may be of infectious origin or caused by degeneration of bone tissue. Alternatively, it may indicate oncological disease.

Diseases of this type are quite difficult to treat. They need to be treated as soon as possible. That is why, if the bone pain is not caused by an external stimulus, it is necessary to seek a specialist doctor, that is, an orthopedist.

What causes bone pain?
Is it fatigue, a cold or a serious cancer?

Bone growth and pain

Growing pains appear in children and adolescents.

They are not a symptom of a sick person.

It is present in the case of rapid bone growth. It occurs mainly at rest and during the night. It is important to distinguish these pains from pathological conditions. This type of pain is not accompanied by general symptoms such as fever or swelling of the limbs.

The cause of bone pain is an injury

The child is crying, has pain in the upper limb, due to a forearm fracture, the upper limb is fixed in a cast.
A common cause of pain is injury. Source: Getty Images.

Most of the time, the bone is compromised by an external influence: a fall, a bump or other mechanism. It causes either a bone impact or a bone fracture.

In case of a bump, the pain is acute.

However, it gradually subsides and restores momentum and sensitivity in the area. In case of a fracture the pain is long-lasting. The fracture site and surrounding area swell, mobility is impaired, and sensitivity is maximal.

The pain persists until the bone heals. Any movement would worsen the pain and prolong the healing. The fracture area must be fixed, i.e. immobilised. Otherwise, the bone would be at risk of fracture in an unnatural position. This is the case for fractures in which the position of the bone has been altered.

This is why a professional examination is important when a fracture is suspected, especially in case of visible dislocations, i.e. a change in the natural position and position of the bone or limb.

Open fractures are risky, mainly because of the risk of infection.

Bone pain and swelling in the area is present in many cases even after healing. It persists for a long time. In some cases, it worsens or returns when the weather changes. Weather pains, weather-related pain, or meteoropathy that causes aggravation of the discomfort is mainly after more severe injuries and damage to the bone.

X-ray of the tibia with evidence of tibial fracture, complicated fracture with dislocation.
Forearm fracture. Source: Getty Images.

Secondary pain, i.e. caused by another disease

A bone disease in which bone pain occurs is Paget's disease. It is characterized by deformation of the bones. It can affect one or more bones. However, 70-80% of those affected are asymptomatic.

The main symptoms of this disease are:

  • bone pain, frequent night pain
  • deformities of the bones, skull, vertebrae
  • headache
  • for nerve oppression, such as hearing loss
  • frequent bone fractures

Bone thinning also results in pain.

Bone thinning, also known as osteoporosis, is a disease that arises from a disturbance in the metabolism of bone tissue. The consequence is a loss of bone mass, resulting in increased fragility.

The bone is prone to increased brittleness. In this case, bone pain manifests first in the back, later progresses to the groins and shoots down to the lower limbs. More about osteoporosis can be found in the article about this disease.

Osteoarthritis is a disease that results in degenerative changes in the joints and affects the cartilage of the joints. It results from pain in the bones and joints, especially the hip and knee joints, but also in the spine.  It is known as spondyloarthrosis in the case of the spine, coxarthrosis in the case of the hips and gonarthrosis in the case of the knees.

Symptoms include:

Elderly lady has knee pain due to gonarthrosis, holds her knee with her hands
Knee pain in gonarthrosis. Source: Getty Images.
  • grating, crackling or popping sounds and sensations experienced in the joint, so-called crepitus
  • bone thickening, joint deformities
  • restriction of movement
  • pain, especially after exertion
  • joint stiffness after inactivity

Pain can also be caused by inflammation of the bone. This occurs after fracture surgery, but also after orthopaedic surgery or in septic condition. Pain of the inflamed part of the bone can co-occur with fever.

However, the bone can also be attacked by various bacterial infections, which enter the bone marrow, cause inflammation and consequently pain at the site, along with limitation of the functionality of the affected bone. Such diseases caused by bacterial infection include, for example, tuberculosis of the bone.

Costen's syndrome is a neuralgic form of bone pain in the area of the ear, the back of the head. In temporomandibular joint disorder, pain is found in the area of the temple, temple and also in the neck. Pain in the face and head can have diverse causes. Dentist, neurologist, ENT doctor, ophthalmologist and also psychologist or psychiatrist cooperate in the diagnosis.

Trigeminal nerve pain can mimic bone pain in the area supplying this nerve. The condition is called neuralgia, not pain or a cause emanating from the bone. There is inflammation of the nerve, even with colds, but it also often arises with toothache.

It is manifested by pain in the face, cheeks, oral cavity, ear or temples. Pain may be aggravated by touching, chewing, talking. Ordinary medicines may not work. The pain is intense and uncomfortable.

Bone and joint pain also occurs when the body temperature rises and when there is a fever. Often pain is present with infections, for example, also with upper respiratory tract inflammation, and therefore also with influenza.

Vitamin D deficiency is at the root of various diseases, such as osteoporosis, rickets, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome or chronic pain. Vitamin D is important for immunity, but also for the respiratory or cardiovascular system. Even, it acts anticarcinogenic.

Sternum pain, if the pain is not post-traumatic, is present for a variety of reasons. Sternum pain and spinal pain are common due to spinal problems. It can be triggered by respiratory diseases, diseases of the cardiovascular, as well as the digestive system. Pain of the whole body, and therefore of the bones, can also be present in kidney diseases.

However, bone pain is also a manifestation of many other health problems, complications and diseases that at first glance may have no relation to the functionality of the bone. This is the case, for example, with celiac disease, where bone thinning occurs. This is due to the malabsorption of substances necessary for blood formation in the bone marrow.


Bone tumours can appear directly on the surface of the bone or in its centre, i.e. in the bone marrow. With tumours, pain is present not only in the bones but also in their surroundings. Tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

An example of a benign tumour is an osteoma. It mainly affects people under 20 years of age and its occurrence is relatively rare. It is manifested by a slowly growing bump. It can be the cause of a pathological fracture. Its occurrence can also be caused by trauma.

Chondroma is a benign tumour. It is made of cartilage and categorised according to its location. Inside the bone, enchondroma forms, especially in the hands and feet. On the outer surface of the bone grows juxtacortical chondroma.

Bone pain at the knee can be caused by osteoclastoma, also called a giant-cell tumour of the bone (GCTOB). Most of the time it occurs in this area. Less in the wrist, hand, shoulder, where it can cause bone pain, but also in the pelvic area.

X-ray of the thoracic spine with evidence of cancer in the thoracic spine.
Cancer in the vertebrae of the thoracic spine. Source: Getty Images.

Chondrosarcoma is the most common form of malignant bone tumour. It typically occurs between the ages of 40 and 70 and mainly in men. Bone pain is present in the sitting area, at the hip joint. The pain gradually worsens and does not subside even at rest.

Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumour. It mainly affects the long bones of the lower limb. Also in this case, pain in the area of the knee may indicate its occurrence. It grows in the bone, damaging it and also the surrounding soft tissues.

Together with chondrosarcoma, they are among the most common malignant diseases. The highest incidence is between 10 and 20 years of age. It is mainly manifested by:

  • resting and night pain in the affected area
  • a hard painless swelling, i.e. a bump
  • is the cause of pathological fractures
  • pri metastázach do pľúc spôsobuje sťažené dýchanie, kašeľ
  • also has overall manifestations
    • increase in body temperature
    • weight loss
    • night sweats

A tumour that affects the bone marrow is multiple myeloma. It mainly affects elderly patients. The vast majority of them have bone pain, most often in the back or ribs. Treatment is possible with chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation.

It results in impaired proper function of the bone marrow. It is unable to produce sufficient amounts of the necessary blood cells. This results in anaemia, frequent bleeding or a tendency to infections, i.e. reduced immunity.

Learn more in this article.

In addition, leukaemia also affects the bone marrow. It is very dangerous and therefore it is necessary to start treatment as soon as possible, otherwise the disease may reach a stage that is no longer curable.

Leukaemia is a malignant disease of the blood. Leukocytes, i.e. white blood cells, proliferate in the bone marrow, mainly in an immature form. Again, normal blood formation is suppressed.

Leukaemia is the most common childhood cancer in developed countries.

Other oncological diseases can also present with bone pain, for example, prostate cancer. It does not affect the bone, however, it manifests itself as pain in the back and bones around the hips.

Model of the female chest and breast, breast cancer.
Breast cancer often metastasizes to the bone. Source: Getty Images.

Another case is metastasizing another nation to the bone. A metastasis is actually a distant lesion that has arisen from a primary malignant tumor elsewhere in the body. Examples of such metastasis include:

  • breast cancer
  • uterine cancer
  • prostate cancer
  • thyroid cancer
  • lung cancer
  • kidney cancer

Bone Pain Causes

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