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5 Causes of Bone On Bone Pain

When talking about bone-on-bone pain, what we are referring to is the severity of osteoarthritis (also known as OA) that exists inside a joint. What causes bone on bone pain with OA? If we are going to answer that, we have to look at the potential root causes of OA. Even with all the research that has been done, it’s still unclear exactly what causes OA. It appears that there are a few factors that influence such pain from OA. Let’s take a closer look at what those factors are and how they influence the degree of bone-on-bone pain you are experiencing.


Lengthy Periods of Inactivity

One of the most significant risk factors in the development of bone-on-bone pain is long periods of inactivity. It is hard to know for sure what causes OA pain, but it can cause damage to the bone itself, ligaments and tendons, cartilage, meniscus (in the knee), and synovium (the lining around the joint).


If someone is overweight and does not get much exercise, that inactivity could lead to increased stress being placed on the weight-bearing joints, such as the knees and hips. This amount of stress increases the risk of OA developing in those particular joints. There are also some metabolic effects associated with obesity that could influence your risk of developing bone-on-bone pain with OA.



Genetics might also play a major role in who develops bone-on-bone OA pain. If you have a family member with bone-on-bone pain from OA, then there is a chance you could develop it, too. What’s more, people who have OA in their hands are more likely to develop it in their knees. The predisposition for OA can be passed down the line through family generations. However, scientists have yet to discover the inheritance pattern of OA.


It appears that, in many cases, there are several genetic changes that each have a small effect that combines in a way that increases the risk of developing OA. Lifestyle and environmental factors can interact with these genetic factors and make the bone on bone pain even more significant.


Prior Surgeries in the Affected Joint

Studies suggest that previous surgeries in or around the affected joint (such as the knee) can result in bone-on-bone pain. Both old injuries and previously performed surgeries can lead to the development of OA even years after they happen.


A minor amount of damage to the cartilage around the joint might seem like nothing and go unnoticed for a long time. But then, OA can develop in that area later in life. What’s more, an injury can change your body’s biomechanics – favoring one leg over the other due to an injury – and this increased stress can boost your risk of developing OA during your lifetime.


Previous Medical History

If you have a previous medical history of chronic health conditions, you could be more at risk for developing bone-on-bone pain at some point in your life. If you already have some sort of joint deformity (such as knocked knees, bow lengths, or uneven leg lengths), you could be more predisposed to developing bone-on-bone pain at some point in your life.


Patients with OA often have one or more comorbidities. Stroke, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease are all common comorbidities with OA, especially in older adults.


Weakened Muscles Surrounding the Joint

Certain muscles surrounding the joint that have weakened might affect OA pain. Skeletal muscle wasting and OA both seem to occur in conjunction during the aging process. Joint stability seemingly decreases as muscles waste, leading to bone-on-bone pain. The genetic expression might play a role in this.


Bone-on-bone pain from OA can be increasingly painful over time. If your pain is getting worse, contact our chronic pain specialists to schedule your initial consultation. Our team of specialists can assess your bone-on-bone pain and come up with a treatment plan.


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