Pathomechanisms and management of osteoporotic pain with no traumatic evidence


Sumihisa Orita, Kazuhide Inage, Miyako Suzuki, Kazuki Fujimoto, Kazuyo Yamauchi, Junichi Nakamura, Yusuke Matsuura, Takeo Furuya, Masao Koda, Kazuhisa Takahashi, Seiji Ohtori

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan


Introduction: Osteoporosis is a pathological state with an unbalanced bone metabolism mainly caused by accelerated osteoporotic osteoclast activity due to a postmenopausal estrogen deficiency, and it causes some kinds of pain, which can be divided into two types: traumatic pain due to a fragility fracture from impaired rigidity, and pain derived from an osteoporotic pathology without evidence of fracture. We aimed to review the concepts of osteoporosis-related pain and its management.
Methods: We reviewed clinical and basic articles on osteoporosis-related pain, especially with a focus on the mechanism of pain derived from an osteoporotic pathology (i.e., osteoporotic pain) and its pharmacological treatment.
Results: Osteoporosis-related pain tends to be robust and acute if it is due to fracture or collapse, whereas pathology-related osteoporotic pain is vague and dull. Non-traumatic osteoporotic pain can originate from an undetectable microfracture or structural change such as muscle fatigue in kyphotic patients. Furthermore, basic studies have shown that the osteoporotic state itself is related to pain or hyperalgesia with increased pain-related neuropeptide expression or acid-sensing channels in the local tissue and nervous system. Traditional treatment for osteoporotic pain potentially prevents possible fracture-induced pain by increasing bone mineral density and affecting related mediators such as osteoclasts and osteoblasts. The most common agent for osteoporotic pain management is a bisphosphonate. Other non-osteoporotic analgesic agents such as celecoxib have also been reported to have a suppressive effect on osteoporotic pain.
Conclusions: Osteoporotic pain has traumatic and non-traumatic factors. Anti-osteoporotic treatments are effective for osteoporotic pain, as they improve bone structure and the condition of the pain-related sensory nervous system. Physicians should always consider these matters when choosing a treatment strategy that would best benefit patients with osteoporotic pain.

Released: July 27, 2017; doi: