The pain associated with osteoporosis usually comes from painful fractures that take a couple of months to heal. Typically, the pain slowly goes away as the fracture heals over time. The typical fractures associated with osteoporosis heal over a period of three months. Any pain that continues after the fracture has healed is classified as chronic pain.
Causes of Chronic Pain
One of the primary causes of chronic pain in osteoarthritis is vertebral fractures. While some people experience very little, or no pain from vertebra fractures, other people have intense pain accompanied by severe muscle spasms that continue to develop years after the fracture has completely healed.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is injured, or you are putting too much force on a part of your body that cannot handle it. When bones break, the surrounding nerves immediately send pain signals up the spinal cord and to the brain. The brain immediately interprets the signal as pain and alerts the surrounding tissue to respond in an effort to make you stop the action you are carrying out.
The Pain Response
The depth of pain response is determined by a number of factors, including your personal emotional outlook. People who have depression have been noted to have an increased perception of pain, which will develop as you learn to cope with the pain and accommodate it. For people with clinical depression, once the depression is treated, the pain will decrease.
Chronic pain associated with osteoporosis generally lasts beyond the standard time for the injury to completely heal. It can interfere with normal life, and make completing everyday tasks unbearable. To make matters worse, you know that the injury has healed, but the pain is still haunting you. The pain message your brain is receiving could be triggered by mild muscle tension, weakness, muscle spasms, or even stiffness in the area.
Your feelings can also intensify the pain you experience. Feelings of anger, fear, and frustration can amplify fear, and it doesn’t matter what is causing the emotion. Chronic pain can significantly impact your entire life, and it should be taken seriously. It is important that you take time out to talk to your doctor about the ways you can manage chronic pain associated with osteoporosis.
How to Combat Pain
Learning coping strategies can decrease the amount of pain you feel. Using heat and ice, treating it with Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, using brace support, exercising on a regular basis, attending physical therapy, having acupuncture, and getting a regular massage can help you to achieve more comfort.
Hot and Cold
Taking warm showers and using hot packs is a great way to relieve chronic pain. Some people find relief from ice packs or cold packs. It does not matter which one you choose, you will receive the best result by wrapping the pack in a towel and applying it to the skin for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
TENS is able to send an electrical impulse to a specific part of the body in an effort to block pain signals from reaching the brain. Overall, it is a very small device that contains two electrodes. These electrodes are placed at a point on the body where the pain is experienced.
The device releases a mild electrical signal which has the capability of interrupting pain signals. Most patients experience hours of relief from a single session of TENS. Others require a portable unit that connects the belt that provides continuous pain over a long period of time.
A spinal brace is able to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoporosis. This is especially true for a recent fracture. The brace can help control your movements, which allows you to resume your everyday activity, without risking further irritation to the fracture. Make sure that you do not wear your back brace for longer than necessary. It can dramatically weaken the muscles surrounding the spine, causing more long-term pain than necessary.
Exercise and Physical Therapy
If your health allows it, exercising is a great option for reducing pain. It increases the level of endorphins, which are a powerful, natural pain killer the brain produces.
Physical therapy teaches you physical ways you can decrease your pain. It teaches the proper posture, and the proper body mechanics necessary to strengthen your muscles and reduce the risk of injury. Hydro-therapy is another way physical therapy can reduce the amount of pain associated with osteoporosis. It allows you to work out without risking injury, or straining the area where you are experiencing pain.
Acupuncture and Massage Therapy
Acupuncture is considered an alternative therapy method. It can stimulate nerve endings associated with the area of pain, which causes the brain to release powerful endorphins, treating the pain. Acupuncture is a therapy that requires multiple sessions to obtain relief. However, you will notice small changes each time you have it done.
Massage therapy is a great way to manage chronic pain associated with osteoporosis. To avoid creating more pain, it can be done using a light, circular motion with the fingertips. If you need a deeper massage to obtain relief, deep kneading that moves from the center of the body outward can provide the perfect relief.