Alternative Treatments for the Pain Associated with Osteoporosis

  • Osteoporosis can cause pain. Bone fractures are painful and some say that osteoporosis alone can be painful in some people. The two primary mechanisms for pain in osteoporosis are inflammation within the bone and nerve sensitivity around the bone. Both common themes, inflammation and nerve sensitivity, are found in many types of painful conditions. Like any painful condition, one can use traditional treatments of anti-inflammatory medications, Tylenol, and opioid medications to treat the pain of a compression fracture or bone pain from osteoporosis. Beyond these traditional treatments are osteoporosis-specific treatments for pain that fall into three main categories: exercise, medications, and stabilization (EMS). This EMS approach to osteoporotic pain may help you improve your quality of life.

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    Depending on the specific clinical situation, exercise is an often overlooked, under-appreciated treatment that might be a good option. Not only does exercise have the potential to improve bone mineral density, exercise helps improve posture. An improved posture can help to relieve pain by reducing the pressure on the bones of the spine, specifically the vertebral bodies which are prone to compression fractures in those with osteoporosis. An appropriate exercise program would emphasize thoracic and lumbar lengthening, extension forces while eliminating compressive, flexion forces. Additionally, a physical therapist can improve body mechanics during various daily activities like sitting, lifting, and rolling-over in bed. With improved mechanics and posture, the pain of osteoporosis can be minimized.


    Some special, osteoporosis-specific medications can also help to relieve pain. An oldie but goodie is calcitonin which has been used for many years to help normalize bone density. Plus, calcitonin is also known to relieve bone pain from fractures, metastasis, and osteoporosis. Available as a nasal spray or by injection, calcitonin is a drug of the past which should also be considered now as a good, alternative option for anyone experiencing bone pain. Another alternative pain reliever exists, but is not traditionally known as a pain reliever. This medication is Actonel. According to some recent research, risedronate (Actonel) has the potential to relieve bone pain via a nervous system mechanism. So, Actonel might also be worth trying in order to help relieve the pain from osteoporosis. Just keep these alternatives to the traditional pain relievers in mind when dealing with bone pain associated with osteoporosis.


    Stablizing with spinal bracing is also another alternative method to control the pain from osteoporosis, particularly the pain from spinal fractures. Many different styles of spinal braces are available. In general, the "hyperextension braces" represent the correct style of spinal braces used to treat compression fractures of the vertebral bodies. The specific brace chosen for treatment depends on the amount of spinal compression and the location of spinal compression. The primary goal is to stabilize the fracture site enough to allow for healing and to minimize further injury. In turn, with the added stability from a spine brace, the pain should also be minimized.


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    Minimizing pain, improving bone density, and preventing further injury are all the primary goals for treating osteoporosis. By focusing on the alternative methods for treating the pain associated with osteoporosis, invasive procedures can be avoided. This easy to remember EMS (exercise, medication, stability) guide can be the cornerstone for reducing inflammation and nerve sensitivity that can be caused by osteoporosis.


Published On: December 29, 2010